5 NHL Teams That Should Go After Dallas Stars Restricted Free Agent Jason Robertson
One of 2021-22's biggest breakout seasons belonged to Dallas Stars winger Jason Robertson. The 23-year-old from Arcadia, California, exploded for 41 goals and 79 points and even earned some MVP votes for his efforts in helping the Stars get to the postseason.
Conveniently enough for him, that monster season occurred in the final year of his entry-level contract, and although the Stars' season begins on Oct. 13, Robertson is still unsigned.
The flow of information about progress has slowed down. Elliotte Friedman shared on Monday’s 32 Thoughts podcast that frustration has set in even though things are close.
The Stars would be foolish to play too much hardball with Robertson, and other teams around the NHL would be all too eager to find a way to take him off their hands. He’s a budding star and is poised to be Dallas’ best scorer for years to come…if he stays there.
Ah yes, every Stars fan's least favorite word there is “if,” and let’s be real: It’s awfully fun to think about other teams that make a ton of sense for Robertson.
“But Joe, every team would make sense!”
That’s a fair statement to make, but there are others who stand out more or who have attempted to make splashes over the summer only to be runners-up in the race to acquire talent. We brainstormed and picked through rosters to come up with a list of five teams that make a ton of sense for the league’s latest big-time net-filler.
Agree? Disagree? Wildly unhappy Stars fan? Tell us about it in the comments because we love to read it.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils are on the verge of becoming a dangerous and fun team in the Eastern Conference.
Over the summer, they made their intentions to make a splash clear when they tried to sign Johnny Gaudreau, as well as acquire Matthew Tkachuk from the Calgary Flames. Teams don’t try to make a move like that unless they feel confident with where they’re at. That’s what makes the Devils prime contenders to take a run at Jason Robertson.
Consider what New Jersey has going for it right now. Jack Hughes is on the verge of breaking out in a monster way (he had 56 points with 26 goals in 49 games last season). Nico Hischier, when healthy, is a dynamite two-way forward. Jesper Bratt and Yegor Sharangovich have grown into superb players. They’ve got Alexander Holtz, Jesper Boqvist, and Fabian Zetterlund poised to make the leap. But aside from Hughes and Hischier, those are all superb support players and not ready-made star scorers like Robertson.
To add Robertson to the Devils would assuredly mean sacrificing a couple of the players listed above and more on top of paying Robertson whatever he would like to become New Jersey’s newest big-time goal scorer of the future. A forward trio of Hughes, Hischier and Robertson would give the Devils a top-three group you could put up against almost anyone else in the league and come away on top.
We know these Devils aren’t your father’s drag-you-to-the-depths-of-neutral-zone-trap-hell Devils of the 1990s, and coming out of the blue to make a move for Robertson would force them into the conversation of Eastern Conference contenders.
New York Islanders
To say the Islanders had a disappointing summer would be putting it politely.
GM Lou Lamoriello’s team changed coaches from Barry Trotz to Lane Lambert, traded for Alexander Romanov from Montréal, re-signed RFAs Romanov, Noah Dobson and Kieffer Bellows and…that’s it. No UFAs, no other trades, nothing.
Doing nothing after a disappointing season in which they missed the playoffs after a miserable start to the season doesn’t really sell the whole situation to their young star center Mathew Barzal. You know what would do that? Acquiring Jason Robertson.
Bringing Robertson to Long Island to play with Barzal, Brock Nelson and Anders Lee would send the message that, yes, the Islanders are serious about getting back to not just the postseason but also the Eastern Conference Final and beyond. It’s easy to forget they did it two straight years before last season, but adding a 40-goal scorer to the group backstopped by Ilya Sorokin would give them the kinds of pieces that would make them a chic pick to go places in the playoffs.
Of course, the cost to make it happen is the rub. The Islanders do have all their draft picks for the next few years (a 2023 third-round pick does have a condition in which they could lose it), so they could part with some of those and prospects for Robertson. Or they could try to sign Robertson to an offer sheet and make the Stars really sweat it out trying to make a choice between matching or just taking the draft-pick compensation. Doubting Lamoriello is the easiest way to make sure Lou gets the upper hand.
Detroit Red Wings
One of the most aggressive teams during the offseason was the Detroit Red Wings. General manager Steve Yzerman has guided the organization through its rebuilding years, and with many of their up-and-coming prospects are either in the NHL or ready to make an impact there soon, Yzerman sprang into action to give them veteran depth.
After all, with Moritz Seider, Filip Zadina and Lucas Raymond playing alongside Dylan Larkin and Jakub Vrana, adding Ville Husso in goal and Andrew Copp and David Perron up front made a ton of sense to give the Red Wings more pop in the lineup. Adding Robertson on the wing would rightfully start making people think about the Red Wings of recent history.
The last time the Red Wings had a 40-goal scorer was Marian Hossa in 2008-2009 in his one season with Detroit. Bringing in Robertson would give them a perennial threat to score prolifically the way Brendan Shanahan or Sergei Fedorov used to do in Motown in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
It’s been long enough since the Red Wings were any real threat to the rest of the NHL, offensively or otherwise, but acquiring Robertson by using any of the bevy of prospects they’ve drafted over the past few years and using draft picks to sweeten the offer would force Detroit back into the conversation for the postseason once again.
In Western New York, the Sabres have gone about their latest way to rebuild the organization in a much more patient and well-thought-out means than they’ve tried under previous regimes. Where GM Kevyn Adams has taken the steady approach is where previous GMs Jason Botterill and Tim Murray’s efforts landed Buffalo right back to square one again and again. Patience is, so far, a virtue for the Sabres and making rash trades or signings is something they haven’t done.
Oddly enough, this is what makes Buffalo a very intriguing team to make a run at rising star Robertson, and former-NHLers-turned-podcasters Andrew Peters and Craig Rivet even said they believe the Sabres reached out to Dallas about the unsigned star.
Robertson’s age (23) makes him much different than other trade targets they’ve tried in the past to help the Sabres take the next step. He’s much more in line with the young core of talent Buffalo has with Rasmus Dahlin (22), Owen Power (19), Tage Thompson (24), Dylan Cozens (21), and Jack Quinn (21). Even veteran younger players like Casey Mittelstadt (23) and Alex Tuch (26) are in the same generation as Robertson. Those prospects aren’t the only ones cooking for Buffalo either; they’re just the ones set to be in the NHL right now.
Buffalo has more than enough assets when it comes to prospects, draft picks and, perhaps most importantly, salary-cap space to make bringing in Robertson an absolute no-brainer. Buffalo wouldn’t be sacrificing the future to add him because…he’d also be part of the future and they would still have plenty of prospects and draft picks even after a trade. You can’t cheat the rebuild, and past regimes certainly tried to do that, but acquiring Robertson would enhance it instead.
You know who could really use Jason Robertson the most? His current team.
Look at the situation the Stars are in. Their leading scorer the past two seasons wasn’t Tyler Seguin or Jamie Benn, it was now-38-year-old Joe Pavelski. Seguin and Benn’s offensive numbers have dipped in each of the past couple of seasons, and trends like that don’t usually improve as players get older. Dallas has another young stud at forward, Roope Hintz, for Robertson to grow with as their careers move ahead. If you can’t have peak Seguin and Benn, why not run with the next generation’s version of it instead.
Robertson coming through Dallas’ system and being a natural scorer makes him the kind of player you don’t just pass off when the contract demands get serious (and seriously large at that), and GM Jim Nill certainly understands that. After all, he came up as an executive working with Jim Devellano in Detroit, so it’s not as if a player exploding on the scene and looking to be paid big bucks is a new situation.
The Stars have younger players on the way soon to contribute to the lineup and join Robertson, especially Jake Oettinger in goal. Young scorers, a rising star goalie and, oh right, Miro Heiskanen is a total dynamo on the blue line as well. Seems like a solid young core to keep together and build around, no? Breaking up the band before it has a chance to make big hits is the kind of thing that happens in tragic True Hollywood Stories. Fortunately, the Stars don’t have to do that. And they shouldn’t.