According to this, Armstrong is happy with one round and out playoff hockey.
Armstrong, Stars Remain Prudent
July 2, 2007
On day one of the free agency period in the NHL, various clubs committed to spending hundreds of millions of dollars over the next handful of years in order to shore up perceived weaknesses on their rosters. The Dallas Stars remained relatively quiet while the whirlwind of dollars was taking place across the league, but the club is content with its plan and with the way next season's roster is shaping up.
Since Doug Armstrong took over as Dallas' general manager during the 2001-02 season, one of his key strategies has been to lock up the players who have established themselves with the Stars, players the club know and trust. Yes, there have been some major free agent acquisitions, such as Bill Guerin and Philippe Boucher, but for the most part, Armstrong has strived to maintain a sense of continuity on the Stars roster, rather than trying to make a splash.
Armstrong continued in his attempts to secure continuity on the roster yesterday, as he signed defenseman Sergei Zubov to a one-year extension that will keep him in a Stars sweater through the end of the 2008-09 season. The Stars will compensate Zubov $4 million for the coming season and $5.35 for the following campaign, which appears to be a major bargain compared to other contracts signed by defensemen yesterday. Brian Rafalski's five-year, $30 million deal with Detroit and Mathieu Schneider's two-year, $11.25 contract with Anaheim come to mind for those comparisons.
Along those same lines, the Stars acquired defenseman Mattias Norstrom from the Los Angeles Kings at the trade deadline in February, with the knowledge that he was signed through the end of the coming season. Also, Philippe Boucher is under contract through the end of 2008-09 at a very fair price, further solidifying the Stars' defensive corps for the near future.
Last September, Armstrong proactively signed Brenden Morrow and Jere Lehtinen to contract extensions rather than letting them test the free agent waters this year, as their deals would have expired on June 30. Morrow was inked to a to a six-year, $24.6 million extension through the 2012-13 campaign, while Lehtinen signed a two-year, $8 million deal that extends until the end of the 2008-09 season.
With some of the staggering numbers involved in the contracts issued yesterday, one must wonder what Morrow and Lehtinen would have commanded on the open market. If Paul Kariya received $18 million over three years from St. Louis and Ryan Smyth was given $31.25 million for five seasons by Colorado, the sky could have, and probably would have, been the limit for the Stars forwards.
"We identified our core players and we wrapped them up early so they weren't part of that process yesterday," said Armstrong of his deals last summer. "To their credit, they wanted to be here and we wanted to keep them here so signing Brenden and Jere in advance insured that we were going to be competitive moving forward. When you look at the number of players we have under contract moving forward, our core is strong, and while that does limit what you can do on July 1, it also limits what you can lose."
That being said, the Stars did make phone calls yesterday and continue to do so today, but Armstrong adamantly states that potential free agent targets must be the right player for Dallas. The Stars are excited about some of their young prospects, and do not want to hinder their progress with a free agent who might not fit the system.
"They (free agent targets) have to be better than what we have here already," said Armstrong. "When you look at a player like Jussi Jokinen, who is 24 years old and has put together two 50-point seasons, that's a valuable asset moving forward. Also, Loui Eriksson is a guy that we expect more from, for example, so we need internal growth and we expect to have that this year. I'm looking at Eriksson, (Niklas) Grossman and (Joel) Lundqvist, and they are going to be major contributors. That's the balance we are looking for, a balance from top to bottom. If you look at the core of our team, goaltending, defense and our forward group, it's as solid as anyone's."
Armstrong and the Stars will continue to evaluate options on the free agent market, but the general manager is also content to sit tight and retain some of the salary cap flexibility the club currently enjoys.
"If there is a fit that can improve our team, we will certainly evaluate the opportunity," said Armstrong. "By signing our own players, we will have some ability to be active next year, if the cap stays where it's at. Every year is different, but when you look at our team, we have a lot of good players. That may have cost us yesterday, but in my humble opinion, some of the guys that went yesterday aren't nearly as good as Brenden Morrow and Jere Lehtinen, guys we could have lost if we allowed them to become free agents."
Armstrong will continue to tackle the free agent market and mold the 2007-08 Stars roster with a prudent and responsible mindset, maintaining the club's long-term goals and strategies while remaining among the league's elite teams.