There are two events in the world of hockey that test our mental and emotional health: trade deadline and free agency. Like most teams in the league, the Dallas Stars have some notable names on the free agency list.

But first, let’s take a quick look at the difference between a restricted free agent (RFA) and an unrestricted free agent (UFA). The first one refers to a player whose contract expired but doesn’t qualify as UFA yet (more on that later). The team must extend a “qualifying offer” (for a one year contract) to the RFA, and if rejected, the player remains a RFA and can negotiate offer sheets with other teams.

If there’s no offer, he becomes an UFA. If he doesn’t sign before December 1, he is ineligible to play in the NHL for the remainder of the season (William Nylander, anyone?).

UFA is a player without a team – either he was released or the contract expired without renewal, and it’s also a player that is over 27 years old or has played in the NHL for at least seven years. This status gives him the chance to consider offers from all teams and then he can decide who he wants to sign with. Like John Tavares a year ago.

So now that that’s settled, let’s meet the Dallas Stars’ RFA and UFA Class of 2019.

Restricted Free Agents

Julius Honka
Gavin Bayreuther
Niklas Hansson
Jason Dickinson
Landon Bow
Dillon Heatherington

Unrestricted Free Agents

Jason Spezza
Marc Methot
Mats Zuccarello-Aasen
Ben Lovejoy
Erik Condra
Reece Scarlett
Taylor Fedun
Brett Ritchie
Ryan Hartman
Chris Martenet
Philippe Desrosiers

Desrosiers, Hartman, Martenet, and Ritchie were RFA that didn’t receive qualifying offers, thus becoming UFA.

What Now?

Accepting the offer of the Stars doesn’t mean they are good to go to play in the NHL. The player can be reassigned if the organization decides to, but they can’t be traded for one year. That’s not a bad scenario: every year we see players than jump from the AHL to the NHL and stay for a long, long time.

Stars fans are surprised that the team made an offer to Honka, given that they don’t actually play him that much. Only the Dallas Stars organization knows what they’re doing with him – we should just call it “The Honka Experiment”.

Out of the RFA list, it could be safe to assume that at least Dickinson and Bow will stay. Now, as for the UFA… this is where things get emotional.

Jason Spezza is already at the door, with all his luggage and his family by his side. Marc Methot is surely gone too (sadly, with his injury history, there’s no way the Stars will bring him back), and so the biggest question is: will Zuccarello stay?

And that’s a hard one to answer, because Zuccarello wants to test the trade market, and there is more than one team out there ready to make some offers. In the end, it doesn’t really depend on the Stars, but on Zuccarello himself.

Whatever July 1 brings to the Dallas Stars, let’s hope it’s for the best, and they can build the team they have been wanting to – one that will take them into a deeper playoff run and leave the haters and non-believers quieter than ever.

Featured Image: NHL
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