The Colorado Avalanche take a lot of flak from their current fanbase for not spending during free agency. They have been hovering near the cap floor for several years, and even voluntarily kept Peter Mueller on the roster last year through his concussion issues just so his contract would keep them above the floor.
They have nothing on the Dallas Stars, who are out to prove that spending money in the current NHL landscape is overrated. The Stars even voluntarily traded for Eric Nystrom, a player who they could have simply claimed for free because he was already on waivers, solely so they could use his entire $1.4 million salary to stay above the floor.
Guess what? Cheap is working in Dallas.
The Stars lead the incredibly tough Pacific Division with a mostly anonymous roster. Loui Eriksson isn't really a household name, but he leads the team with six goals. Kari Lehtonen is rarely mentioned among the league's best netminders, yet he has a 1.75 GAA and a sparking 8-1 record this season, en route to the league's Second Star award for the month of October. The Edmonton Oilers gave up on Sheldon Souray, who leads the Stars defensemen with eight points. This isn't a fluke, either. Dallas stayed near the top of the Pacific Division most of last season, barely missing the playoffs on the final weekend.
Colorado will have a new look offense against the Stars. Matt Duchene has moved to the left wing of Paul Stastny's line, and T.J. Galiardi will now center a line with Joakim Lindstrom and David Jones on his wings. The Avalanche have been looking for another top winger to pair with Stastny, but Duchene wil get some playing time there in hopes of sparking both centers from disappointing starts to the season.
Semyon Varlamov will start in net, and will face off against Lehtonen in what should be an excellent goalie matchup.
Puck drops at American Airlines Center in Dallas at 6:30 p.m. MDT.