On Monday, the Dallas Stars locked up one of their two remaining restricted free agents by signing Cody Eakin to a two-year, $3.8 million contract. If you believe Brenden Dillon’s agent Jarrett Bousquet, they could have retained both players if they were OK with handing the defensemen the same deal.
“It’s frustrating and disappointing, and I know Brenden feels that way,” Bousquet said. “There is a market out there for him to be paid even more than this, so this is an offer that we think should get things done.”
The 23-year-old played in all but two of the Stars’ regular season games during the past two seasons after getting a solitary appearance back in 2011-12. He’s averaged more than 21 minutes of ice time per game these past two seasons, showing a willingness to mix things up (151 penalty minutes and plenty of hits in 129 games) with an improving offensive touch (career-highs of six goals, 11 assists and 17 points last season).
Bousquet laid out some compelling comparables to the Dallas Morning News:
Bousquet has raised Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson ($2.5 million) and Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser ($2.1875 million) as comparables, and his offer is significantly under those. The Stars could raise up a player like Torey Krug, who signed a one year deal for $1.4 million earlier this week because he lacked negotiating power as a restricted free agent with no arbitration rights.
(Dillon’s possession stats actually might be more impressive than DeKeyser’s, although both blueliners have room for improvement.)
For the most part, Stars GM Jim Nill’s comments have been scarce, as he wisely doesn’t want to “negotiate in public.”
/Camera pans to the Columbus Blue Jackets logo
While some might accuse the Stars of “nickel-and-dime-ing” here, such stances have helped Dallas amass one of the cleanest salary structures in the league. Few teams can boast a combination like Tyler Seguin ($5.75 million per season) and Jamie Benn ($5.25 million) for $11 million combined per season for 3+ seasons.
Both sides have at least some argument here, yet like in many RFA situations, each would benefit from reaching a compromise before regular season games are lost. We’ll see if anything happens as they “go back to the drawing board,” then.