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How Steve Ott’s contract extension helps the Dallas Stars long-term

That the Dallas Stars signed Steve Ott to a contract extension yesterday is not surprising at all. The thought that Ott would be able to just fit into any other locker room in the NHL is a tad amusing, and really it seems the only place for him in the league at this point is in Dallas.

That Ott was able to get just about the $12 million he wanted and truthfully deserved from the Stars is what was surprising.

The Stars are in a tough situation, as Tom Hicks is seemingly in the midst of preparing the team for sale this season and has put a lock down on the payroll. The Stars have operated all season long well under the salary cap, and it appears as if they’d be operating under the same internal cap next season as well. Of course, an ownership change could turn things around but since that’s not expected to happen until this summer at the earliest, there’s a good chance that the finances for the Stars won’t be freed up for a while.

So how did the Stars afford to extend Ott?

In a testament to Ott’s loyalty to the team and Nieuwendyk’s ability to work a contract (something we haven’t seen yet, really), Ott’s salary breaks down like over the course of the contract: (via Dallas Morning News)

2010-11: $2.1 million
2011-12: $3.3 million
2012-13: $3.2 million
2013-14: $3.2 million

Next season the Stars have $33 million is salary committed to 13 players, with no goaltenders under contract. While the difference in a little under a $1 million might not seem like a lot, that could be what allows the Stars to be able to sign one of their many restricted free agents this summer. They’ll also likely be losing Marty Turco, Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen, so next season could see a completely different Stars roster than we’re used.

Could the Stars start following the “Nashville model”? GM Joe is going to have to get inventive with free agent and contract signings to keep the Stars competitive until a new owner can free up the budget a bit more.