Monday, July 2, 2018

Bevy of Free Agent Signings Brings Texas Stars Roster Churn

(credit: Texas Stars)
Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill wasted no time in boosting organizational depth when the July 1 free agency window opened in the NHL. As a result, the Texas Stars roster has experienced an overnight facelift and will look markedly different when they take the ice in October.

Here are the notable transactions up until day 2 of free agency and how they figure to impact the Texas Stars.

Joel L'Esperance - C/RW

The promising power forward who joined the Texas roster prior to the start of the Calder Cup playoffs will remain a Star with a two-year ELC. Though he only amassed four points in 22 playoff games, L'Esperance was a key cog that played up and down the lineup and quickly gained the trust of the coaching staff. His relative versatility will help him be a fixture in Cedar Park next season.

Michael Mersch - RW/LW

Having played against Mersch in their first round playoff series against the Ontario Reign, the Texas Stars know they are getting a winger who can play both sides, use his 6'2" stature to be a net front presence, and provide plenty of scoring. The Illinois native put together a 49 point 2017-18 campaign while playing within the compressed 65-game California schedule. He signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Stars.

Joel Hanley - D

Another player the Stars are familiar with from the postseason, Hanley tallied four points in nine games for his Tucson Roadrunners during their playoff run. His 31 regular season points helped also helped them run away with the Pacific division early. The left-handed shot has signed to a one-year, two-way contract and seems a good bet to replace Andrew Bodnarchuk.

Erik Condra - RW/LW

The former captain of the Syracuse Crunch has been signed to a one-year, two-way deal and brings an impressive resumé with him. With 366 career games in the NHL, Condra is a great piece to help replace what the Stars lost in the departures of Curtis McKenzie and Brian Flynn. A point per game player in Syracuse's 2016-17 Calder Cup run, that saw the Crunch come up just short, Condra could be a huge boon to high end prospects like Roope Hintz.

Colton Point - G

The 2016 5th round pick of the Dallas Stars has left Colgate University to sign a three-year ELC. The signing essentially spelled the end for Mike McKenna's time in Cedar Park. Point will battle with Landon Bow for the lion's share of time in the crease and will give goalie coach Jim Bedard an exciting project in which to invest.
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Here are the notable players that have signed elsewhere during free agency.

Curtis McKenzie - LW

Texas Stars captain for the 2017-18 season and team leader in playoff scoring, McKenzie was likely never going to get the opportunity he probably deserved in Dallas. He sought potentially greener pastures with the Vegas Golden Knights. It remains unclear whether he will play for their affiliate Chicago Wolves or compete for a spot in their bottom six. His departure will leave a massive void in production, leadership, and professionalism that some of the younger players with have the opportunity to replace.

Brian Flynn - LW/RW

The sneaky-good veteran forward was third in team scoring during the 2017-18 regular season and parlayed that production into a contract with the St. Louis Blues. Having to move only about an hour south to San Antonio, Flynn projects to be a thorn in the side of the Texas Stars when they face the Rampage over a dozen times next season.

Mike McKenna - G

An instant fan favorite with the Texas Stars fanbase, McKenna was the primary reason the Texas Stars came within one game of winning the Calder Cup. Keeping in step with his journeyman identity, he signed a one-year deal with the Ottawa Senators to help bolster their affiliate team in Bellville. With his departure, the Stars will focus more on goaltender development.


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