Ryder, Souray, highlight free agency for the Stars

PHOTO CREDIT: AP

The Dallas Stars lost Brad Richards to free agency without receiving anything in return.  Not for lack of trying, anyway.  Reports say that General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk repeatedly tried to trade the rights to Brad Richards for some sort of asset, but in the end, it didn't happen.

Richards is now loving life with a new long-term contract with the New York Rangers.

In the meantime, Nieuwendyk had to find a way to restructure his team by trying to find some dependable pieces up at forward and some defensive options as well.  I'll be sure to take you through each of the acquisitions.

Stars Sign F Michael Ryder to 2 year, $7 million contract

The 31-year-old scoring winger spent his career with the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins.  Most recently, he captured a Stanley Cup with the Bruins this past season.  Ryder is a tough act to follow.  Pundits like to say that plus-minus is one of the most flawed statistics, but looking at Ryder's statistics, he had a -25 in Montreal in 2006-07, and a +28 in Boston two seasons later.  He proved to be a proven playoff commodity, posting 8 goals and 9 assists for 17 points en route to a Cup.  

Stars fans, know that you're going to get goals out of this skilled player.  His past two seasons have been a bit of an anomaly in goal scoring, but with the right fit at center, Ryder will put up the points and the goals.  Ribiero is the easiest choice to center a line with Ryder alongside.  The Stars need to lean on this guy to put up goals, because they just lost a large source of them by losing Brad Richards.  

Stars Sign F Vernon Fiddler to 3 year, $5.4 million contract

Three words describe Vern Fiddler the best--"reliable checking centerman".  The guy won't put up points, but he will defend and get scrappy when you need him to.  As I have mentioned before, by losing offense, the Stars and coach Glen Gulutzan may need to play a more defensive style.  Vern Fiddler fits that bill perfectly.  

The 31-year-old centerman is also a reliable faceoff man.  Fiddler is a specialist type of role player, but one that a team needs.  His last name is fit for Nashville (he played there for six seasons).  However now, he works for Big D for the next three years.

Stars Sign F Jake Dowell to 1 year, $800,000 contract

Dowell comes from the Chicago Blackhawks organization where he spent most of his time with the AHL's Rockford Ice Hogs.  That explains the cheap contract, and the short term.  Dowell's ice time increased last season, and in the process, he posted 21 points.  

Dowell is also another role player type centerman that can win faceoffs and play in his own end really well.  He makes good decisions.  Don't expect him to get a lot of ice time, but expect his ice time to be at important moments.  Low risk, potential for high reward.

Stars Sign D Sheldon Souray to 1 year, $1.65 million conract

Looks like Sheldon Souray is finally free from potentially the worst contract ever signed by a defenseman.  Souray spent the last couple of seasons feuding with Edmonton Oilers management, and in the process, being reassigned to the AHL's Hershey Bears.

Souray is a defenseman, but that doesn't exactly describe his job very well.  He has a complete cannon shot from the point that works five-on-five, or on the powerplay.  After losing Richards (again, his value is not overstated), the Stars needed some offensive punch.  Nieuwendyk figured it would be a good start to maybe get that offense from the back line.

Souray's clapper can reach speeds of over 104 mph.  The guy can flat out bring it.  He also can play very well on the physical side of the game.  He may have to be paired along with someone who can play defense in the defensive end fairly well to be successful.

Stars Sign D Adam Pardy to 2 year, $4 million contract

Adam Pardy is an interesting specimen, and to be honest, this contract seems like a bit of an overpayment.  It's hard to find the correct value for a stay-at-home defenseman like Pardy, but two million dollars per season for an average defenseman seems like a bit much.  

In any case, Pardy weighs in at 220 pounds, meaning the dude can throw the big hits.  His plus/minus hovers around even after every season, so again, the word "average" comes to mind.  He can play well, but not sparklingly well.  He may end up being a third pair defenseman to replace someone like Karlis Skrastins, should Nieuwendyk decide not to bring him back.

------------------------

Even with the additions, the Stars have a few unrestricted free agents that have not been signed.  Forwards Jamie Langenbrunner, Brandon Segal, Jason Williams and Brian Sutherby and defensemen Jeff Woywitka and Karlis Skrastins round out the group of UFAs that have not been re-signed.  

The Stars have room to work with, but how much are they willing to spend given the out-of-whack ownership situation that has yet to be resolved?  It's only day two of free agency.  Who knows?

------------------------

Stay tuned to The Checking Line for more on Free Agency!  Follow me on Twitter @jckuhns.

6 Comments

Chuck Gaston Jr's picture

Ryder was a solid signing and for the price, it wasn't bad at all.

However, I will completely disagree with the Souray signing. What the hell was Dallas thinking. This is a guy that even Hersey's coach said was bad. He wasn't even their top Dman in the AHL. They made a huge stretch and a gross overpayment for this guy.

George Prax's picture

A one year deal at less than two million, I'd take that risk too if I were the Stars. If he starts shit in the locker room like he did and Edmonton (and most likely in Montreal) then it won't be too hard to get rid of him. I don't think it was a matter of Souray sucking in the minors but more that he likely wasn't motivated to go there. The guy was a superstar in Montreal then went back home and failed. I can see him wanting to redeem himself now because if he does then he can earn another big contract next year. So we'll see.

Ryder's a good signing though, surprised he took a discount.

Jordan Kuhns's picture

Ryder may have to make a leap to "Star" status (ha, didn't even see that coming) in Big D...it just seems like the Stars need a major source of offense. Ryder will HAVE to repeat his 30 goal campaigns of the past, or else he's gonna get ripped for being a bust.

George Prax's picture

Thing is, Pressure + Ryder = trouble. In Boston he was basically a piece of the puzzle. In Montreal there were times he was a first line forward, and that didn't work out too well. He needs to be well-insulated to perform and I'm not sure he gets that in Dallas. He'll frustrate you just as much as he makes you proud, but he'll still score goals because he has the hands. It's a matter of managing expectations.

Phil T's picture

I don't see Dallas being very good next year without Neal and Richards

nowhere's picture

Between Souray, Ryder, Robidas, & Ribiero, you'd think Dallas is trying to reassemble the Montreal Canadiens from the early 2000's.