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New Look Stars' Blueline

When Derian Hatcher, former captain of the Dallas Stars, signed with the Detroit Red Wings, it naturally left gaping hole on their blueline, but the Stars made some significant moves to soften the blow of the loss of their captain.

Some people question the moves Dallas has made this off-season, but I am one who admires them. Without hurting their blueline too much, they have made it easier to survive in the long-run, when this current collective bargaining agreement expires and the league faces a possible salary cap.

When Derian Hatcher went on the open market as an un-restricted free agent, the bidding was clearly between two teams: the Stars and their Western Conference rivals Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings came out of the gate with a 4 year/$22 million offer to Hatcher, which the Stars matched. Determined, Red Wings' GM Ken Holland upped the ante to 5 years/$30 million and won the services of Hatcher as Dallas was not willing to pay that much money over that many years.

The Stars went out and signed long-time Bruin Don Sweeney to a 1 year deal. Sweeney is a competent defenseman who played alongside Ray Bourque in his prime years. Sweeney will not be mistaken by Hatcher, but he can fill in and make the void seem smaller, while the term of the deal prepares the Stars for years to come.

In mid-July, the Stars struck a 3 team trade that strengthened their blueline. The Stars sent Darryl Sydor to the Blue Jackets in exchange for center Mike Sillinger and a 2nd round pick. The Stars then sent Sillinger and the pick to Phoenix to get defenseman Teppo Numminen. The Stars clearly got the best player in the deal, but Sydor is much younger than the 35 year-old Numminen. However, with this move, Dallas cut the long term deal of Sydor which was to pay him $3.5 million per year. Numminen's contract will pay him $4.5 million for this coming season only.

Numminen is an extremely solid #1 or 2 defenseman. It could be said that he is Hatcher's equal without the hard-nosed style.

The additions of Numminen and Sweeney do not make up for the subtractions of Hatcher and Sydor but by not matching Detroit's offer to Hatcher, and trading Sydor, Dallas will save almost $45 million over the next 5 years, which will go a long way, in the post-CBA years.