Dallas could be a major player in free agency, trade talks

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Some interesting quotes came from Dallas last week after Fox Sports Southwest’s Bob Sturm spoke with the Stars braintrust.

Owner Tom Gaglardi, President Jim Lites and GM Joe Nieuwendyk were all on hand to welcome back Bob Gainey to the organization in a consulting role and shed light onto what Dallas might do this offseason.

If their words were any indication, it could be a big summer in the Big D.

“We are without budget,” Lites said. “As crazy as that sounds. We are restricted by only the CBA and fitting long and short term into that system. This is a different situation than we have been in for the last four seasons –- which is we have an owner who is willing to spend and not being run by the league.

“We are prepared to spend what we need to spend.”

More, from Sturm:

I asked Tom Gaglardi if he anticipated the Stars being front and center on July 1 with all of this cap space. His response? “Uh, Yes. We have identified some guys we are going to pursue hard. And so we expect to be in the mix.”

The boldness and confidence with which these two men speak is quite wonderful to see. I think we can examine the shallow pools in free agency and see this is not the greatest summer to have loads of money. But, there are more than just one way to do this. You also have a number of teams who are now squeezed badly by the cap and are looking for some relief by dealing away a piece.

Lites: “You know what is out there now? The Brad Richards type. The reason we got Brad Richards is that he became available for prospects because Tampa Bay fell apart after they paid him. Other teams have lost flexibility and they may want to move that guy. Contracted players who either have no trade clauses but will waive it to come here and you may be able to work things through with that guy who may have a burdensome contract for their team. For instance, you see Jeff Carter in Los Angeles who Columbus didn’t want to keep.”

The Stars project to have $20 million in available cap space, depending on what they do with UFAs Sheldon Souray, Radek Dvorak and Sheldon Souray Adam Burish. What’s key is that Dallas sounds like it’ll take on money in any way, shape or form — and that’s huge, considering the number of cumbersome contracts currently out there.

Remember, we’ve seen players with mega-deals moved in recent years: Mike Richards (12 years, $69 million), Brian Campbell (eight years, $57 million) and Carter, who has seen his 11-year, $58 million deal traded twice.