Thursday, June 30, 2016

Maxime Lagace Signs One-Year Deal with Dallas Stars

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Following his qualifying offer last week, Maxime Lagace signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Stars this afternoon. The rising sophomore AHLer found his groove in Texas this season and was the most consistent starter among the stable of goalies that Derek Laxdal's club employed.

Lagace is an RFA after this contract and this is, of course, a deal designed to see if he can build on this past season's success. He is the favorite to be the starter in Cedar Park but could have stiff competition from Philippe Desrosiers. Also, don't count out rookie Landon Bow.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has signed goaltender Maxime Lagace to a one-year contract. Per club policy, terms of the signing were not disclosed.

Lagace, 23, posted a 19-10-3 record with a .913 save percentage, a 2.90 goals against average and a shutout with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League last season. He won 11 consecutive decisions from Dec. 27 through Feb. 17. During the 2015-16 Calder Cup Playoffs, he registered a 0-1 record with a .886 save percentage and a 2.74 goals against average in two postseason appearances. Lagace also appeared in 11 games with Idaho of the ECHL, registering a 3-5-2 record with a .886 save percentage and a 3.09 goals against average.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound native of Longueuil, Quebec went undrafted and was originally signed by Dallas as a free agent on July 23, 2012.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Dallas Stars Expected to Announce Qualifying Offers for Texas Stars Maxime Lagace, Matej Stransky

Update (11:40 AM CST): Dallas has confirmed the below.

As the dust has settled from the draft and free agency looms this week, the Dallas Stars are expected to announce qualifying offers today. Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News fills in the details:
This means that Emil Molin, Taylor Peters and Troy Vance are the only players who will not get offers. They are immediately unrestricted free agents on July 1. Peters retired, according to Sean Shapiro, at the end of this season. Molin is playing in Europe next season. Vance played in Europe this past year.

Jack Campbell, the other notable RFA that was mentioned here in this post, was traded on Saturday to Los Angeles.

A qualifying offer does not mean that a player is signed. It means that an offer has been extended. Players must still sign the offers to play. The only risk is Matej Stransky, who may have other offers in Europe.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Texas Goalie Jack Campbell Traded to Los Angeles

Jack Campbell (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The once-promising first-rounder, goalie Jack Campbell, will wear a new jersey this fall. Today, the Dallas Stars traded Campbell to the Los Angeles Kings for defenseman Nick Ebert.

Campbell is likely to be qualified, signed and play in the AHL next season with Ontario, which means he will be back in Cedar Park very soon. Campbell has only played in the Dallas organization since being drafted 11th overall in 2010.

The trade is probably the best outcome for all parties, as Dallas was unlikely to qualify Campbell. Without the trade, he would have walked for nothing. With this deal, Dallas gets a depth defenseman for the Texas Stars in Ebert. The 22-year old Ebert has spent the past two season in the AHL with the Kings. The Monarchs and then the Reign were both excellent teams in his two years there, so he brings a winning pedigree to the table.

The goalie depth in Dallas now looks like this

Dallas: Niemi, Lehtonen

Minors: Lagace, Desrosiers, Bow

Monday, June 20, 2016

Dwindling Texas Restricted Free Agent Pool Takes Drama Out of June

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
Dallas has already done much of the work that was expected to come on the restricted free agency front, taking out much of the possible drama of the month of June. For Texas, big time RFAs Justin Dowling and Brendan Ranford both got deals early in the month. Here's a rundown of the remaining RFAs in Texas.

Maxime Lagace
Lagace turned heads this season, no question. With his effort this year, he's going to get a qualifying offer and be a big part of the plans next season in the AHL. The deal is likely to be a one year, "prove it wasn't a fluke" deal.

Matej Stransky
Stransky is in an interesting spot. He had the best season of his career this year in Texas, but it's not clear that he has a spot in the organization above the AHL level (or perhaps in any organization). If Matej Stransky were 'Matthew Stransky' from Saskatoon, he'd continue playing in the AHL on an AHL deal if he didn't get a QO, but he is not. The winger is from the Czech Republic and will always have the option to go home and make a decent amount of money for less punishing hockey in his home country. Personally, I think you give him an offer. Whether he signs it is another question.

Jack Campbell
The Jack Campbell era sadly comes to a close in Cedar Park. Campbell is a great goaltender when he is on. Since the Calder Cup season, he hasn't been on frequently enough to make him part of the long-term plans in Dallas. I do hope he finds success in the league, but I think he needs a reset. There are any number of organizations that would love to have a goalie with his experience and would give him a flyer to see what might come.

Taylor Peters
Peters isn't likely to get a qualifying offer. After a year with Willie Desjardins trusting him for big faceoffs on the fourth line as a rookie, Peters got buried in Idaho by the new regime. He spent much of this year on the injury list and his social media lends credence to the belief he has moved on from playing the game.

Troy Vance
The hulking defenseman out of the Q never played a game with the Texas Stars and spent last season in Europe. He hasn't made much noise to make it seem like he would get a deal. Dallas has more prospects incoming that would require deals. Vance isn't worth the QO.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Dallas and Texas Stars Announce Two-Year Affiliation Renewal with Idaho Steelheads

(Credit: Idaho Steelheads)
In what has become an annual ritual, the Dallas Stars announced today that they will re-up their affiliation with the Idaho Steelheads. This year's announcement comes with the added bonus of a two-year agreement. Up to this point, each agreement was a single season. It's a strong vote of confidence for Neil Graham, who was in his rookie season as the coach and GM of the team.

It is interesting to compare how Texas has used its ECHL affiliate over the past seven years. Now that the organization's depth is more established, they are using the Steelheads more to their advantage and having fewer PTO players from other ECHL clubs. With the potential goalie situation this coming season, the development that Idaho can provide will be more valuable than ever this year.

The coming season will mark the twelfth consecutive season – and 13th season in total – that Dallas and Idaho have been affiliates, which makes it the third-longest continuous active affiliation in the ECHL. Wheeling (Pittsburgh, 1998) and Florida (Carolina, 1998) pre-date Idaho’s uninterrupted time with Dallas, which began in 2005.

Here's the release:
The Dallas Stars announced today that the club will renew its affiliation with the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads through the conclusion of the 2017-18 season.

The Steelheads have served as Dallas' ECHL affiliate since the 2005-06 season, and previous to that, during the 2003-04 campaign. Idaho has reached the Kelly Cup Finals three times as an affiliate of the Dallas Stars, winning the Kelly Cup twice (2004 and 2007). The Steelheads finished second in the West Division and fifth in the Western Conference with a record of 38-24-7-3 during the 2015-16 season.

"We are pleased to renew our affiliation with the Steelheads for the next two seasons," said Director of Hockey Operations and Texas Stars General Manager Scott White. "Head Coach Neil Graham is a good, young coach who quickly built a strong rapport with his players. He gives his players every opportunity to succeed and has fostered the developmental culture we strive to possess throughout the entire organization. We look forward to our continued partnership with the Steelheads."

The Texas Stars will continue to operate as Dallas' top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Texas Stars Announce Six Guaranteed Home Dates

(Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
With much of the AHL schedule dependent on the NBA for venue availability, you won't be seeing the AHL schedule until August. However, each team gets six guaranteed dates, which were released today for Texas. The dates are below.

2016-17 Guaranteed Dates:
Friday, Oct. 14 - Season Opener
Saturday, Nov. 12 - Military Appreciation Night
Friday, Dec. 9 - Sing for Santa Weekend
Saturday, Dec. 10 - Sing for Santa Weekend
Saturday, Jan. 7 - Girl Scouts Night
Saturday, Jan. 28 - WATCH D.O.G.S. Night.

The only notable point I see here is that Texas gets its Military Appreciation in close to Veteran's Day this season. That night should perform better as a result.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Brett Ritchie Signs For Another Year with Dallas Stars

Pending RFA Brett Ritchie became the latest to re-sign with the Dallas Stars. Injuries derailed his 2015-16 campaign and limited him to 43 games between Dallas and Texas this regular season. He got into the NHL playoffs and will start the year in Dallas. It's a one-year, one-way deal.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has signed right wing Brett Ritchie to a one-year contract. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Ritchie, 22, split the season between Dallas and the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League (AHL). The winger tallied one point (0-1=1) and 30 hits in eight regular-season games with Dallas in 2015-16. Ritchie made his NHL postseason debut this season, recording one shot on goal and two hits in two games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The winger also appeared in 35 regular-season AHL games with Texas, registering 28 points (14-14=28).

Ritchie has earned 10 points (6-4=10) in 39 career regular-season NHL contests, all with Dallas. The winger has also accumulated 101 points (53-48=101) in 141 career regular-season AHL contests with Texas. A member of the 2014 Calder Cup champion Texas Stars, Ritchie has appeared in 28 career Calder Cup Playoffs games, recording 17 points (11-6=17).

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound native of Orangeville, Ont. was originally selected by Dallas in the second round (44th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Mattias Backman Re-Signs with Dallas

The Dallas Stars announced today that Mattias Backman has re-signed with the club on a one-year, two-way deal. The defenseman was a possible flight risk. He had offers in his native Sweden and indicated at his exit interview that he was considering them. He was a pending restricted free agent.

Here's the release:
Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has signed defenseman Mattias Backman to a one-year contract. Per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Backman, 23, registered 32 points (8-24=32) in 69 regular-season games with the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League (AHL). The defensemen shared first on the Stars and 23rd in the AHL with a +18 plus/minus rating in his first full season in the AHL. Backman also ranked third among club defensemen in goals, assists and points. During the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs, the defenseman posted two assists (0-2=2) and four shots on goal in four games.

Backman has earned 36 points (8-28=36) in 90 career AHL contests with the Texas Stars and Grand Rapids Griffins. The defenseman has appeared in 16 career games in the Calder Cup Playoffs, registering nine points (1-8=9) and 18 shots on goal. Backman also won a gold medal at the 2012 IIHF U20 World Junior Championship with Team Sweden, skating alongside current Dallas Stars John Klingberg and Patrik Nemeth.

The 6-3, 185-pound native of Linkoping, Sweden was originally selected by Detroit in the fifth round (146th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft. He was acquired by Dallas along with Mattias Janmark and a second-round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft from Detroit in exchange for Erik Cole and a third-round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft on March 1, 2015.