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Where Did June Go?

by Seamus O'Callahan / Dallas Stars

Holy cow! How in the world is it already the last week of June? Weren’t we just playing Game 6 vs. San Jose deep into the night in early May? Time sure does fly.

Hard to believe it, but the free agency period is almost upon us. You know – the time where we all wish for our hockey team to go out and spend oodles of money to land some of the top talent that is out there.

Seamus O'Callahan
h, the good ol days. Gone are the times where filling holes on your team was as easy as writing a check on July 1. With the new salary cap era, hockey GM’s have to be wiser and have a look towards the future with every move.

But this is where Les Jackson and Brett Hull have earned their contracts that made them permanent co-GM’s.  The two have made some solid moves over the last eight months that have placed the team in a very good position to not have to be very active on July 1.

Mike Ribeiro – signed in early January through 2013, locking him up as a Star and preventing him from becoming an unrestricted free agent next week.

Steve Ott and Nicklas Grossman  – both signed in April through 2010.

Trevor Daley – signed last month to a deal through 2011.

Toby Petersen – signed through 2010.

And of course, Brad Richards – traded for in February to give the Stars depth at center and leadership.

The Richards deal is clearly a huge cog in the Stars’ plans for next season and the future. He just turned 28 in May and some of his best hockey is ahead of him. Sure, his contract is a little hefty but to get a player of Richards’ caliber in free agency would equal a large sum of money anyway (and he was unavailable unless you made a trade for him). Plus he’s under contract through 2011.

Then Les and Brett go out and nab 23-year-old Fabian Brunnström in May, winning his signature on a free agent contract over the likes of Detroit, Montreal, Toronto, Anaheim and Vancouver. Brunnström helps ease the pain of not having a number one pick in the draft last weekend, as he is expected to play in the NHL this coming season. Word has it that Mr. Brunnström would have been a first round selection had he been inserted in this year’s draft.

Fabian Brunnström
These moves have set the Stars up to enter the 2008-09 season with a focus on building on their success from this past season. In other words – Les and Brett have done much of the hard work already to give the Stars their best chance of winning.

So you can expect somewhat of a quiet July 1 period for the Dallas Stars. Oh, the phones will be active and inquiries will be made. But the Stars won’t be one of the teams out there spending some big bucks to lure top free agents.

They don’t have to.

So what are the Stars interested in? Well, as one good friend once told me, “You should always be interested in being interested.” Les and Brett will do their homework and be ready for anything. But chances are they will be most interested in picking up some help for the third line and possibly another defenseman for depth.

We’ll come back tomorrow with a closer look at which teams around the league have some decisions to make and who might be hitting the unrestricted free agent market on July 1.

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