Late on Monday, the Dallas Stars announced the re-signing of forwards Luke Gazdic and Ryan Garbutt and the signing of new draftee defenseman Ludwig Bystrom to a three year entry-level contract. Gazdic and Garbutt were both restricted free agents at the end of the 2011-12 season and were both tendered qualifying offers. Garbutt signed a two-year one-way deal, while Gazdic signed a one-year two-way deal.
With a one-way contract, Garbutt will likely spend his season in Dallas after finishing the year in the NHL last season. After playing in the CHL just two years ago, Garbutt has now scored a one-way contract in the NHL.
If Garbutt is assigned to Texas, which could be possible but I think unlikely, fans know what to expect. Hoping that penalty trouble is resolved after time in the NHL, Garbutt can be counted on for high-energy play in the top two lines. Surely Texas would also love to have his shorthanded tenacity back on a pairing with another shorthanded beast like Mike Hedden.
Meanwhile, the Stars wanted Gazdic to focus on playing between the whistles last year, and he had a career year in terms of offense, collecting 11-12-23 while only tallying 102 minutes of penalties, a career low. After a minus-22 in 2011-12, the next step for Gazdic is to tighten up the defensive side of his game. The last thing you want from an energy forward is a defensive liability. It's the next logical step in the growth of his game.
This leaves Jordie Benn as the last RFA with a qualifying offer expected to play in Cedar Park not to have signed with Dallas yet. His brother, Jamie, the other big fish on Dallas's radar.
(Image credit: Portraits by Deena)