The announcement today that Jason Robertson and the Stars have not agreed on a contract resulting in Robo missing the beginning of camp was greeted with the usual mass hysteria on social media that accompanies this sort of breaking news. The 23-year- old sniper is one of only four players in Dallas Stars history to score 40 goals in a season and is well on his way to becoming one of the new faces of the franchise. Having him skating on Day 1 would have been optimal, but business takes precedence.. While this is not great news, it certainly isn’t as bad as it may seem on the surface. Let’s take a “glass is half full" approach to where things stand.
This is a very difficult and delicate negotiation. The best interest of Dallas management is a bridge deal. Get a three-year term and see if Robertson continues his meteoric ascent. It’s hard to justify backing up the Brinks Truck for someone who has played only one full, 82-game NHL season. Get the shorter term now and then in three seasons, with the Salary Cap unfrozen and several large contracts expired, make an offer for money and term that can’t be refused.
The best interest for Team Robertson is to get the money and term now. Nothing in hockey (or life) is guaranteed. Why gamble on the future when you have proven to be among the best single-season scorers in Stars history? The market has been set as players of similar age and production (Robert Thomas, Tage Thompson, and Jordan Kyrou) have gotten their long-term deals and big bucks. No reason to sign a bridge deal when all the other cool kids are getting paid.
The opening of training camp isn’t a hard deadline. It’s actually more of a wake-up call to get negotiations started in earnest. The Acadia, California native isn’t going to be missing much by not being in Cedar Park. Robertson is known for his hockey sense and game awareness, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for him to pick up Pete DeBoer’s new system. It’s a given that the Avenger’s Line will remain intact, so there isn’t the worry of having to work on chemistry with Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski. Again, it would be better to have a full roster in camp, but it’s not time to go into crisis mode either.
In the interim, someone has to fill the void at forward, and that results in opportunity. No Robo means more preseason game time and practice reps with true NHL-caliber talent for young prospects trying to make the club. For these kids, now is the time to step up and show out. For Jim Nill’s front office, getting a more complete picture of Mavrik Bourque, Wyatt Johnston, Logan Stankoven, and even Matej Blumel is a good thing. The extra chances to evaluate also apply to veterans who may be underachieving. If trades need to be made to create room under the Salary Cap to sign Robertson, additional analysis is useful to make sure the right moves are made.
For the short term, there can be some positives out of the current situation. But no one wants this standoff to be a lasting cloud hanging over the franchise. It’s okay to make chicken salad out of chicken…let’s just say feathers, for a while, but it’s not the long-term solution. The Stars are a better team with Jason Robertson wearing Victory Green. Neither side wants to make a miscalculation, while both want to get a deal done. There is no need to panic unless October 13 rolls around and Robertson is still MIA. Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the fact that hockey is back. If some extra preseason negotiation time is needed to make a win-win deal, so be it.