Sellers Once Again
Let the games, er, dealing, begin.
Such is life for the Dallas Stars these days. Dead-last in the Central Division with a record of 27-26-10 for 64 points, this season is all but done when it comes to making the playoffs. The NHL trade deadline is today at 2 pm, but the Stars didn’t have to wait for Monday to come to start dealing.
Eric Cole was the first veteran to go, dealt to the Red Wings last night with a conditional third-round pick in exchange for a second-round pick and two prospects.
Let’s hope, for the Stars fans’ sake, that this isn’t the only deal announced prior to the deadline.
The bottom line is that this group isn’t getting it done, which is disappointing. Less than a year removed from a bounce-back season and a return trip to the playoffs in 2014, it is time for changes once again in Dallas.
What went wrong? Many (including me) picked the Stars to return to the playoffs, but the shortfalls of this team can really be boiled down to three things: outscored 79-52 in the third period this year (third-most goals-against in the league), a subpar record in games past regulation (a 3-10 record equals way too many points left on the table), and too many soft goals (Dallas’ save percentage was .894 entering Sunday’s game, second-worst in the NHL).
Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat in this discussion, and that is who shouldn’t be dealt today. It’s a short list, actually, it starts with Jamie Benn and ends with Tyler Seguin. OK, so it’s not really that short. Promising young talent like John Klingberg and Patrick Nemeth also shouldn’t be touched, but if there’s a blockbuster out there to be had, I’m open to adding them to a discussion.
Now, if you want to talk Scott Glennie or Jack Campbell, I’m all ears. Maybe it’s still early to give up on Campbell (he’s still just 23), but seeing Cam Fowler on the Anaheim blue line again last night was another reminder of what could have been from the 2010 draft.
The next-likely candidate to be traded is veteran center Shawn Horcoff, who is 36 with an expiring contract. He can play in almost any situation and has playoff experience. Another player who should receive some interest is Alex Goligoski. Offensive defensemen who can skate are hot commodities in the NHL.
If there’s one player I would love to see GM Jim Nill unload today it would be Kari Lehtonen, who unfortunately has not lived up to expectations since a promising first couple of seasons in Dallas. He can be dominating at times, but honestly has not been consistent enough. Perhaps a change of scenery would do the trick for him. It’s not going to happen though.
This is a perfect example (once again) of why guaranteed contracts are a terrible thing for the league. I certainly do not blame the players for wanting them, but giving the teams some flexibility in picking up some of the money owed (ala Major League Baseball), then perhaps the Stars could move Lehtonen. Think any other GM wants the last three years of that deal with $17 million left on it? Uh, no.
The guy with the biggest value that the Stars may want to consider moving today is Trevor Daley. One of my personal favorite players (and people), Daley has stepped up his game over the last couple of seasons, embracing a leadership role and flat-out playing some clutch hockey. He’s always been a good skater, and his added offensive punch of late makes him a fantastic option for a team looking to strengthen their blue line for the playoffs and beyond (Daley is under contract for the next two seasons at a modest $5.8 million). The catch – Daley has a no-trade clause so any deal will have to be approved by him.
It’s a shame that we’re back to old drawing board once again with the Stars; We all know how exciting the playoffs can be. Nill’s job is simple – make moves now to get Dallas back in the post-season again soon, and consistently. This team still has as solid foundation to build on, but its time to move some of the veterans on this squad.