Sunday, June 30, 2019

AHL Free Agency: What to Expect for the Texas Stars

(Credit: Texas Stars)
Tomorrow is the start of free agency in the NHL and AHL alike. While Dallas looks at forwards like Joe Pavelski, the Texas Stars also have important gaps to fill as the free agent period opens on July 1.

First of all, it's important to note that NHL/AHL signings are traditionally not taken care of first thing on Day 1. NHL clubs have to see who wins the various sweepstakes for top line players like Pavelski, Mats Zuccarello and Matt Duchene to see where everything else will shake out. That being said, the introduction of the free agency interview period in the most recent CBA has given more clarity to that process and put more AHL-relevant deals on day 1 of free agency.

Among Dallas unrestricted free agents who played in Texas last season, only Erik Condra and Reece Scarlett remain unsigned. Taylor Fedun, who played just three games with Texas, and Justin Dowling both had extensions announced earlier this summer.

Texas will want veteran scoring up front as always, but may not have a lot of roster spots to get it done. With the massive influx of top prospects such as Tye Felhaber, Jason Robertson and Riley Tufte, it is likely to be a leaner veteran year.

As previously reported, Dallas plans to make an offer to D Reece Scarlett, but he is a group six UFA, which means he can sign anywhere tomorrow.

The big UFA question mark for most Texas fans is the status of Travis Morin. The 10 year Texas Star has been cagey about his status for next season with the media. Texas would like to bring him back if the numbers work out but the knock-on effects of signings in Dallas may push him out of the plans for 2019-20.

Based on the way Colton Hargrove was deployed at the end of 2018-19, I would expect him to be re-signed to Texas. Hargrove was a healthy scratch in the final two games of the season to preserve his non-veteran status for AHL rosters.

Of course, Texas has done well in recent years to find a stable of players that populate the Idaho roster and serve as in-season callups. Last year, the Stars were so successful in this regard that they did not sign a single PTO player. These signings won't happen on Day 1, or if they do, they won't be announced for a few more days.

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