Joe Nieuwendyk made yet another splash during this years’ offseason on Tuesday afternoon when the Stars announced they had signed winger Jaromir Jagr to a one year deal worth $4.55 million.
This has certainly been an active offseason for the club so far, as the summer has seen Mike Ribeiro shipped to Washington for young center Cody Eakin and a 2nd round 2012 draft pick, Steve Ott and Adam Pardy were sent to Buffalo in return for center Derek Roy, and the Stars have now signed free agents Ray Whitney, Aaron Rome, and Jaromir Jagr. In a sense, it has also been a tough offseason for fans with the loss of fan favorites Ribeiro, Ott, Burish, and Souray to either trades or free agency. However, Nieuwendyk must be commended for his actions to date.
Nieuwendyk knew and understood that the players listed above were fan favorites, and that it would be hard for many Stars fans to see those players go. However, Nieuwendyk also realized that the current squad had miss the postseason dance four years running and needed to be reshaped not only for the future, but also for the present. The signings of veteran wingers Whitney and Jagr give the Stars an opportunity to excel and be contenders right away, but the short length of their contracts means that the young players developing in Austin will still get their shot with the big club in a year or two. Nieuwendyk knows those young players are the future that could make the franchise successful for many years, but also realizes the desperate need to put a competitive product on the ice this year. The moves he has made so far have done exactly that. The Stars are looking at a top two lines of Eriksson-Benn-Jagr and Whitney-Roy-Ryder for the upcoming season. That top 6 is considerably stronger than what the Stars put on the ice last year, something that Nieuwendyk should get a lot of credit for. This group of forwards also allows Morrow to play on the 3rd or 4th lines this year as he tries to get his game elevated back to the level it was at a few years ago.
On top of all this, it could be very possible that the offseason moves for the Stars are not quite over. The Stars still have cap space to make another large signing and it can still be easily argued that the Stars need a top 2 defenseman for their blue line. Nieuwendyk has said that he feels he is pretty much done with moves this off season, but the feeling still exists amongst most that the Stars may make a run at a top pair defenseman before the summer is over.
The Stars will have quite a different look in October when they take the ice, but after this weeks’ moves, it is hard to think of that as a bad thing.