General Manager of the Year Jim Nill has a lot to think about this summer.

After being recognized as the top National Hockey League GM for the second consecutive season, Nill has 11 players without an NHL contract for next season: five forwards, five defensemen, and one goalie.

The forwards were incredible, especially as the team journeyed through the playoffs.

However, this article spotlights three defensemen who played critical roles for the club and should be strongly considered for a contract renewal. 

Thomas Harley

This one might be obvious. Harley surged this last season, putting up career offensive numbers and becoming a Dallas blue-line fixture. He led all Stars in +/- with a +28 output and ranked second in points out of all defensemen. His contract, an entry-level three-year deal signed in Sept. 2019, expired this offseason.

Per league rules, the Stars were able to slide Harley’s contract for two years. This means that the contract was not in effect until Harley made his professional debut during the 2021-22 season. 

Nils Lundkvist 

Lundkvist joined the Stars via trade ahead of the 2022 season. He was acquired from the New York Rangers for a conditional 2023 first-round pick and a conditional 2025 fourth-round pick. Talk about thinking ahead. Lundkvist amped up his game through 59 appearances last season.

He was a +13 and produced 19 points, both of which are career milestones. Still young at 23 years old, Lundkvist should be given a one or two-year deal to prove himself as an NHL regular. 

Chris Tanev 

Probably the best defensive defenseman that Dallas had in their lineup, Tanev should be a target for retention by Dallas brass. Tanev is coming off a four-year contract that paid him annually $4.5 million. With an aging Ryan Suter (39 years old) entering the final year of his potentially last NHL contract, the Stars could have Tanev be his apprentice.

The defense core is young, with cornerstones Miro Heiskanen and Harley only being 24 and 22 years old, respectively. Tanev would be the second-oldest oldest defenseman and can provide veteran leadership.  

PHOTO: Getty Images

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