Radek Faksa. Image by: Getty Images
Radek Faksa was a hyped prospect but has settled into a shutdown center for the Stars, and will surely be a favorite of new coach Ken Hitchcock.
We know the Dallas Stars are going for it. Heck, they were going for it last year before goaltending caved them in, but now Ben Bishop is manning the crease, so that shouldn’t be an issue. Dallas made a couple of splashes since missing the playoffs, with Alexander Radulov, Marc Methot and Martin Hanzal joining the ranks as well.
But you still have to retain the talent you’ve nurtured and that’s what the Stars did in re-signing center Radek Faksa to a three-year contract with a cap hit of $2.2 million.
Faksa was a hyped prospect in his younger days, with his size, skill and an obvious commitment to the game that practically punched his pro ticket for the future.
He put up decent numbers on some very good Kitchener Rangers teams in the OHL, but never found offensive success at the international level with the Czech Republic.
But the kid worked hard and over time, Faksa became a very good two-way NHLer, using that reach and drive to shut down players and kill penalties for the Stars. Perhaps the most exemplary stat from Faksa’s 2016-17 campaign is that he had the second-best Corsi For percentage of any Dallas regular, behind only Antoine Roussel. And like Roussel, he did it while starting less than one-third of his shifts in the offensive zone.
Which is a long way of saying that Faksa has value, even if he’s never going to be a 70-point guy in the NHL.
If anything, this new contract works because it pays him a decent wage, while also acknowledging the realities of the salary cap. Elite scorers are still going to rule the roost when it comes to big-money deals, but you don’t win anything without players who can do a host of things on the ice. If Dallas is going to make a run at the franchise’s second Stanley Cup championship, the team will do so with a balanced lineup. As we’ve seen in recent years with the Pittsburgh Penguins, depth can kill an opponent.
The Stars fell way short of their goal this past season, but GM Jim Nill had as good a summer as a builder could. Are there questions? Sure. We’re assuming Bishop will round back into form after a shaky exit in Tampa Bay. We’re assuming the defense corps will tighten up thanks to a year’s more experience for the young guys (John Klingberg in particular) and the veteran addition of Methot. We’re assuming Radulov will still be a force, even though he’s no longer playing for a contract.
What we do not have to worry about is Faksa. The shutdown center has been awarded for his Yeoman’s work with this new deal and his role on Dallas has been firmed up. He can be a key part of the collective and I’m sure will quickly become a favorite for new coach Ken Hitchcock.
Sometimes it’s the smaller moves that end up paying the biggest dividends and in getting Faksa re-signed on such a reasonable deal, the Stars have put themselves in a solid position heading into the season.