Alex Goligoski is key piece moving forward

FRISCO -- When the Dallas Stars traded for defenseman Alex Goligoski last season they saw him as a key part of the team’s blue line moving forward. Now, they have him locked up for four more years.

The Stars announced Monday they had signed Goligoski to a four-year, $18.4 million contract extension.

“I think the key is we view Alex Goligoski as one of our core players. I think the philosophy of our organization is to identify our core players and make sure they are long-term Dallas Stars,” said Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. “He’s a great person, he’s well-respected in the locker room and he’s a big part of our team with the minutes he plays and the style of game that he plays. I think it is important to our success, and we didn’t want him to get into a situation where he becomes an unrestricted free agent the year after. He’s that important to us.”

Goligoski, 26, would have been a restricted free agent at the end of this season. He’s in the final year of a three-year deal that is paying him $2.75 million this season. The new contract, which kicks in next season and runs through 2015-16, will pay him $4.2 million the first year, $4.6 million the second and $4.8 million in each of the last two years.

“I’m excited. Relieved the process is over. It’s really exciting. Four years in a place that I love,” Goligoski said. “We’ve got a good group of guys here. Since the second I got here I’ve felt really comfortable and liked it a lot.”

When the Stars shipped left wing James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen to Pittsburgh in exchange for Goligoski, they saw him as a skilled, puck-moving defenseman the team had needed, and a player whose best years were ahead of him.

“I think we’ve seen in the post-lockout era, players like him thrive with the minutes he can play, the movement he has on the ice and his abilities with the puck,” said Nieuwendyk. “Its’ an important signing for us. He’s in the prime of his career.”

The four-year deal establishes Goligoski as one of the key players for the next several years, and that should move him into a bigger role as far as leadership.

“I definitely think right now I’m at a point where that’s a role I can take on,” Goligoski said.

Goligoski leads the Stars in average ice time this season at 22:34 per game, and he logs time in all situations.

“He’s an important part of our puzzle here,” said coach Glen Gulutzan. “Not only his play, but his character. … It’s a big step for this organization to have Goose for four years locked in is a tremendous step for our organization in getting us where we want to go.”

Goligoski’s new deal, which has a cap hit of $4.6 million, gives the Stars 13 players under contract next season for about $40.5 million in cap costs. The Stars have just under $42 million in actual salary committed to those same players.

A new Collective Bargaining Agreeement is on the horizon, so it’s still up in the air as to how things will look once the new system is in place. But Nieuwendyk believes the Stars are in a good spot to make additions down the road as they move ahead under new owner Tom Gaglardi.

“The big picture is we want to continue to get better. We want to sign the guys that are ultimately going to help us get to where we want to go,” said Nieuwendyk. “As long as we continue to grow the business of hockey, ticket sales and things like that, there are many options that we have to look forward to. We’ve always said that we are well-positioned where we are cap-wise and we have no bad contracts that we are having to eat, so those are steps that we can look at for sure.”

Benn talks will wait until after season

Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said talks with forward Jamie Benn, who is the final year of his three-year, entry-level contract, will probably take place once the season is over.

'We've had discussions, but there won't be any more discussions, I don't think," Nieuwendyk said. "His situation is different than (Alex Goligoski's). He's still in entry-level and doesn't have the rights that maybe Alex has. We'll have further discussions with him at the end of the season."

Dallas Stars Salary and Salary Cap Roster 2012-13

Salaries and cap hits for the 2012-13 Dallas Stars