The Dallas Stars are off to a surprisingly disappointing start, but center Roope Hintz has come into his own. Hintz is his second season with the team and is already two goals away from equaling last year’s total of nine. He leads the team in goals with seven and is tied for second in points with Miro Heiskanen and Alexander Radulov with eight.
Dallas is 5-8-1 so far this season, which has surprised many experts. Some are thinking that general manager Jim Nill may need to shake things up with a move or two to jumpstart the season. However, the only worry for Nill may be figuring out the right number to pay Hintz after this season.
The 22-year-old currently makes a bargain price of $925,000 for the Stars and is in line for a hefty raise. He’s currently on pace to score 40 goals this season and that means Dallas will have to pay to keep the Tampere, Finland native.
What Could a Roope Hintz Deal Look Like
Sean Shapiro of The Athletic (subscription required) recently delved into what a potential Hintz contract may look like. The Finnish forward is a restricted free agent and general managers around the league may start using the offer sheet as a tool.
Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin inked Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho to an offer sheet over the summer. Carolina general manager Don Waddell quickly locked up Aho to a five-year, $42.270 million contract.
The offer sheet was the first one since the Calgary Flames tried to lock down Ryan O’Reilly in 2013. It could open a Pandora’s Box where the offer sheet becomes a tool used to force competing general managers to make tough decisions.
Many GMs have been trying to lock down some of their upcoming RFAs. This is happening more during the season to prevent this game of chicken. New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero locked down former top pick Nico Hischier to a seven-year, $50.75 million deal on Oct. 18. This deal prevented a talented young player from hitting the market and forcing a tough decision from the Devils’ brass.
Hischier’s contract may have set the market for the upcoming RFA class. His contract that starts next season works out $7.25 million per campaign. The young Swiss forward will end up being more of a value contract. This may really be true when the new collective bargaining agreement and TV money are factored into the equation.
Hintz may not have a reason to sign a long-term deal during the season as Shapiro speculated. The young Finn may try to improve his bargaining power and use that on the market. More goals will likely mean more money Nill has to spend.
If someone did come at Hintz with an offer sheet like Aho’s $8.54 million per season, it could cause headaches. Dallas would probably match it, but that means some key pieces like Mattias Janmark and others could be priced out of town.
There’s also the unknown if the Stars will try to go “all-in” this season. They may make a trade or two to jumpstart their slow start. Dan Rosen talked about it in the latest mailbag on if Nill would be tempted to make a move.
Rosen said that it’s too early to tell and that veterans like Corey Perry and Joe Pavelski could turn it around. However, there’s going to be that background noise about making move. Making that move could eat up some of that money earmarked for the future.
What it Means for the Future
Dallas locking down Hintz will be a priority because he’s taken a big step forward. A big season will force Nill to pony up around $7-$8 million per season.
Many young players have been taking mid-length deals to try to squeeze out on more giant payday. Hintz will likely get one more crack at that big-money deal after this one. However, the Stars would be wise to try to nail him down for at least five to seven seasons.
DALLAS, TEXAS – MARCH 05: Alexandar Georgiev #40 of the New York Rangers blocks a shot on goal against Roope Hintz #24 of the Dallas Stars as Brady Skjei #76 of the New York Rangers defends in the third period at American Airlines Center on March 05, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)