When I published the Stars' training camp roster, I failed to mention the unsigned restricted free agents James Neal and Matt Niskanen as I went along. I filtered them out of my roster, since they didn't have a deal and continued on my merry little way. Well, worry no more everyone... they signed on the eve of training camp.
Neal signed a 2-year deal worth $5.75 million, which works out to be a $2.875 million cap hit per season. That's a pretty good deal for a guy who had 55 points (27 goals and 28 assists) in 78 games for an underachieving club. With that kind of deal in place, I kind of get the feeling that Neal did not want to miss out on training camp and probably took a little bit less than what the market would bear for his talent. Definitely a good deal for the Stars, who are pinching their pennies.
Niskanen also signed a 2-year deal with the club on Thursday night, which is reportedly worth $3 million over the two seasons, a $1.5 million cap hit per season. Niskanen should come into camp as the team's number three defenseman after picking up 15 points in 72 games for the team last year. He actually finished outside of the drafting threshold, but might find his way back in with some recent retirements and defections back to Europe.
This now lifts the Stars projected annual salary cap number up to $51.3 million for the season, which now ranks them 21st in the league in that category. They are still operating under some budgeted limitations, but now they have 23 players on their roster, plus the re-entry waivers penalty of Sean Avery. That's still putting them in a pretty good position.