The Dallas Stars got the veteran defenseman they were looking for, now they have to deal with the repercussions.
Dallas had tried to make a deal for Dan Hamhuis at the trade deadline five months ago. However, the Vancouver Canucks reportedly kept asking for more in return and squashed the exchange, as Dallas instead made a deal for Kris Russell from the Calgary Flames.
Russell eventually walked in free agency, while Hamhuis agreed to a two-year, $7.5 million ($3.75 million per season) contract with Dallas on Friday.
Hamhuis brings in a 872 games of NHL experience. That’s more than the Stars six youngest defensemen combined, while it immediately makes him the veteran blue liner in the locker room (Johnny Oduya has 746 career games) and he could could be a calming influence on a young team.
Hamhuis can also play play a top-four role for Dallas. He could potentially fill the void left by Alex Goligoski — who signed with the Arizona Coyotes after Dallas traded his rights — on the Stars top pairing with John Klingberg.
He averaged 21 minutes per game with Vancouver last season (21:24 to be exact) and was used on the penalty kill. He moves the puck well when needed, while he’s reliable in his defensive zone.
Hamhuis also signed a highly-favorable contract (both in term and in dollars) in what turned into a crazy market for free agents, adding to the list of positives.
While that’s a positive, the Stars have to make another move to make the Hamhuis signing a success after they created another logjam on blue line — similar to the one they had last season.
Things may change, but Stars beat writer Mike Heika indicated that Dallas is comfortable entering the the season with eight defensemen.
This would be a developmental mistake for the Stars and it would halt the career of a younger defensemen.
Last season Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth were stuck in NHL purgatory. They were on the NHL roster, but stuck as healthy scratches for the majority of the season.
When they did play, both struggled to find consistency and neither had the opportunity find their groove in the AHL since both would have to pass through waivers.
This coming season Klingberg, Hamhuis, Stephen Johns, and Oduya are going to be regulars in the Dallas lineup. That should leave Nemeth, Oleksiak, Esa Lindell, and Jordie Benn (who recently signed a three-year contract extension) to battle for two spots.
While depth is important — perhaps even more so with Hamhuis’ recent injury history — forcing a pair of big, young defensemen into the press box each night is a mistake.
It’s wasting their time to develop, while it’s also wasting Nemeth and Oleksiak’s usage as tradable assets. That’s why the Stars will have to make another move this summer on the blue line and trade Oleksiak or Nemeth, possibly as part of a package to land goalie.
It’s a good start, but signing Hamhuis isn’t a successful move until the Stars effectively find a way to carry seven defensemen.