FRISCO, TX — Jason Robertson will not be with the Dallas Stars when they open training camp Thursday because the forward remains without a contract.
“He’s disappointed he’s not at camp. We are too,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said Wednesday. “It is very important for a younger player and a new coaching staff. We do have some time on our side. We wish he gets here as soon as he can.”
Nill said the two sides have been in constant talks trying to negotiate a contract for Robertson, a 23-year-old restricted free agent who led Dallas with 41 goals and was second with 79 points last season.
“We’ve had ongoing negotiations here steadily over the last couple of weeks, but unfortunately he won’t be there,” Nill said. “We’re open to [either a bridge contract or long-term contract], but other than that, I don’t want to discuss anything. I’m not going to negotiate through the media. We’ve had good conversations.
“Anybody missing camp is tough, so let’s hope this comes together quickly.”
Coach Peter DeBoer, hired June 21 to replace Rick Bowness, who resigned May 20, said Robertson’s absence from camp will not change what he plans to do to get the Stars prepared for the season.
“I laid awake at night with the excitement of coaching Jason Robertson, 40-plus goals, but he’s not here,” DeBoer said. “Until he gets here, I can’t spend any energy on that.”
A second-round pick (No. 39) by Dallas in the 2017 NHL Draft, Robertson has 125 points (58 goals, 67 assists) in 128 regular-season games and four points (one goal, three assists) in seven Stanley Cup Playoffs games.
Goalie Jake Oettingerwho was a restricted free agent, signed a three-year, $12 million contract ($4 million average annual value) on Sept. 1.
“Anybody who knows [Jake] knows who he is as an individual, first of all,” Nill said. “High, high-end character. First guy on the ice and last guy off. He works hard, he’s committed to the game, and plays for his teammates. We’re excited, we know what he can do.”
The Stars (46-30-6) finished as the first wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference last season and lost to the Calgary Flames in seven games in the first round.
“This is one of the most exciting camps I’m looking forward to,” Nill said. “New coaching staff, it’s a fresh start for a lot of players. And when I look at what we have coming into the organization, between the core that’s been here for 5-10 years since I’ve been here, and we’ve had a new influx of talent — the Jake Oettingers, the Roope Hintzestea Jacob Petersons coming in. All of a sudden we’ve got another flush of players coming in that are knocking on the door. We’re excited with the depth, the new faces that are knocking on the door, and the opportunity that’s available for everybody.”
The Stars open the regular season against the Nashville Predators on Oct. 13.