Free agency is not a cure all in the NHL, but even though the Dallas Stars are under new management with a real wallet it appears they are operating under the old rules of playing it painfully safe at this time of the year.
The Stars' signing free agent center Ray Whitney to a two-year, $9 million deal and defenseman Aaron Rome to a three-year, $4.5 million deal feel like more of the same from the front office. The Stars continue to bank on a host of young players, and a farm system, that they are praying will yield the next Blackhawks or Canucks.
With the Fehr of uncertainty of the new collective bargaining agreement hanging over the entire league, being conservative with player contracts is understandable. And tying up players for seven to 10 years, unless your last name is Crosby, is stupid.
Adding Whitney fills the void of the traded Mike Ribeiro as far as a top-six forward, and it should be a major upgrade in the locker room. Whitney is a solid, durable pro. But he is 40. And he is 40. He is 40. You can't expect him to score 77 points again the way he did last season in Phoenix.
Rome, when healthy, is a decent addition. Don't expect a lot of points. He's physical, and responsible.
The Stars and owner Tom Gaglardi do not want to get into any dumb contracts, which is fine, but it also means their scouting and development better have hit on these prospects. Real help isn't coming from anywhere else.
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