What needs to be addressed the most by the Dallas Stars in 2024 NHL free agency?

Dallas will be able to fill up to ten roster positions with roughly $16 million, many of which will be decided within the next week.

We outlined the expectations for each unrestricted free agent of the Stars on Monday. Let’s now examine the major issues that the Stars must resolve in 2024 NHL free agency.

Re-signing the hires from previous year

The Stars believed they had what it took to win the Stanley Cup during the 2023–24 campaign. It seems as though they did at times.

Dallas appeared closer to making it to the Stanley Cup Final than in previous years, even though they fell short by two games.

In the midst of the Stars’ postseason run, captain Jamie Benn remarked, “This is probably the deepest team we’ve had in a few years.” “We seem to be deeper than we were when we returned to the finals last year,”

In the Stanley Cup playoffs, depth is essential for success. Dallas’ front management will need to focus on keeping as many of those components intact as possible while making adjustments and adding a few new ones, as the team was among the league’s deepest this season.

That’s the top priority for Stars general manager Jim Nill in free agency this year, he told The News on Monday.

“Going forward, it’s really just about trying to keep the squad together as I go through the draft and free agency. I started that work,” he remarked. “And how can I improve from there?”

With six unrestricted free agents and limited salary cap flexibility, Nill and his staff will have their hands full trying to hold onto some of the most highly sought-after players when they become available.

Moving forward The two players that should be signed again are defenseman Chris Tanev and forward Matt Duchene, given they were two of the team’s major contributors this season and were unrestricted free agents.

Duchene, who signed a one-year contract during the previous year’s free agency, became the foundation of Dallas’ second line alongside Tyler Seguin and Mason Marchment. Then, Dallas became one of the more formidable defensive teams in the playoffs by acquiring Tanev before the trade deadline.

The two veterans are highly sought-after on the free agency boards following their exceptional years. Dallas, however, has the advantage if it wants to re-sign the two players because they have both indicated that they would like to return.

With stars like Dellandrea and Joe Pavelski already gone, the 2024–25 squad will surely be different. However, Dallas has enough forward depth in the AHL and on its own roster to make up for those losses. Re-signing Duchene and Tanev would be crucial for Nill to capitalize on his success from this season.

It’s a strong group. Nill remarked, “I adored the group, the locker room, and their interactions with one another. “I wish to return as much as possible. Could I? I’m not sure. That’s what our investigation will reveal.

One more defenseman with the right hand
The Stars may use another talented right-handed defenseman to skate with Miro Heiskanen, even if they decide to re-sign Tanev.

Heiskanen played the entire season on his non-dominant side, even while paired with Thomas Harley, but Tanev fit in perfectly next to Esa Lindell on Dallas’ second defensive pairing in the second half of the season.

The right-handed defenseman on Dallas’ roster are the least certain players. Heiskanen, a lefty, is the only player on that side that the Stars have signed thus far. By the end of the playoffs, the Stars had just four right-handed defensemen: Tanev, Jani Hakanpää, Nils Lundvkist, and Alexander Petrovic.

Although it will be costly, Tanev is an easy pick to come back because the Stars will only be covering 25% of his $4.5 million salary cap hit this season.

“We would adore his return. Trying to sign him is what I’m working on at the moment,” Nill stated. “How do we fit it in, though? How can I include him? Furthermore, how can I fit in with the other players whose contracts are about to expire and who are restricted free agents? Trying to keep the band together is the balancing act. I don’t like the figures I’m seeing on my calculator, so I keep swapping out the batteries.

Due to an injury, Hakanpää missed the final two and a half months of the season. He was inconsistent even when he was well, which raises serious concerns about his health. In addition, he has unlimited free agency.

Lundkvist has fluctuated in and out of the starting lineup this season, making it difficult for him to gain the coaching staff’s trust. Being a restricted free agent, the Stars may decide to sell him this offseason if they decide he is no longer the perfect fit, even though they will probably provide a qualifying offer to him.

Before being brought up during the playoffs and paired with Ryan Suter as Dallas’ third defense pairing, Petrovic played the whole season in the AHL. Although he performed well in that capacity, he will probably only be employed as a depth player in the event of an injury. In addition, he has unlimited free agency.

During the trade deadline, Dallas was in desperate need of a right-handed defenseman and moved quickly to acquire Tanev, their main target. Even if Lian Bichsel, a prospect, might be ready to make the NHL squad during training camp, defense depth has to be prioritized this winter.

To increase the depth of that group, the Stars will need to re-sign a few free-agent forwards and possibly add a few more, as they did with Duchene, Sam Steel, and Craig Smith in the previous summer. However, Mavrik Bourque is poised to join the starting lineup on opening night, so the forward group is not as urgently concerning as the blue line.

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