The mythical number one on the block

This isn't the post I set out to write initially but well I couldn't let it go. Sorry for the length but I hope it provides useful information about how shortcutting this won't work.

Fixing the defense won't be easy or cheap in terms of talent traded to make the backline respectable. Anyone looking for some overnight immediate and substantial upgrade is going to be disappointed. Its not going to happen. At least 4/6ths of the defense needs to go and perhaps even 5/6ths. Doing it on a budget where you can’t money whip a FA stud like Volchenkov, Kubina, Michalek, or Martin makes it even harder. I’m not calling out Kritter because I’ve seen this thought process by several others on various Dallas boards and her quotes here were just succinct and handy to use. They’re here to illustrate some logic fallacies and debunk one straw man argument.

My thought is they need to trade for a young-ish (i.e., under 30, and ideally still RFA age), big-time defenseman. Yes, that will cost a lot in terms of player/draft pick assets, but it will definitely address the need in the near future instead of possibly addressing the need in 3-4 years. I get that a player like that may not have been available, or they weren't willing to pay the price available, at the deadline, but I think it's the much smarter way to get the type of player they're looking for.

The list of true number one defensemen in this league is smaller than you think and those who fit the under 30 label reduces it further. In addition those assets are not on the block. Established 1st defensemen who are cost controlled are not moved, ever. Boyle wasn’t under 30 and made too much money. Dallas isn’t going to trade for a 6 million dollar defenseman. If that were the case Visnovsky would be here rather than Anaheim. But just to prove my point here’s the list.


Team Name Age salary signed thru
Atlanta Tobias Enstrom 26 3.75 2013
Anaheim none      
Boston none      
Buffalo none      
Calgary Jay Bouwmeester 26 6.8 2014
Carolina Joni Pitkanen 26 4 2011
Chicago Duncan Keith 26 5.53 2023
Chicago Brent Seabrook 24 3.5 2011
Detroit none      
Edmonton none      
Florida Keith Ballard 28 4.2 2015
Los Angeles Drew Doughty 20 ELC 2011  
Minnesota none      
Montreal none      
Nashville Shea Weber 24 4.5 2011
Nashville Ryan Suter 25 3.5 2012
New Jersey none      
NY Islanders none      
NY Rangers Marc Staal 23 RFA  
Ottawa none      
Philadelphia none      
Phoenix Keith Yandle 23 1.5 2011
Pittsburgh Kris Letang 22 RFA  
San Jose none      
St. Louis Erik Johnson 22 RFA  
Tampa Bay Victor Hedman 19 ELC thru 2012  
Toronto Dion Phanuef 24 6.5 2014
Vancouver none      
Washington Mike Green 24 5.25 2012

Of this list Hedman hasn’t reached that point but since Tampa won’t trade him it doesn’t really matter. The bolded names of Ballard, Staal, and Phanuef I would debate are even number ones. But let's say that's true. Ballard is probably on the block but for 4.2 million I'd rather pay Robidas and I'm no fan of Robidas. Staal isn't the true puckmover we need and the price would be Benn or Neal going back the other way and if you're going to give up those assets then I want a better all around guy than even Marc Staal. Phaneuf was just traded for. Burke isn't going to move him after 25 games in a Leafs uniform.

Letang will only be moved if Gonchar signs a long term deal and even then they'll probably trade Goligoski first. Either way the price for them is Neal or Benn. Again, if I'm trading one of them I want a true bonafide stud, not a guy who's still trying to earn that label.

Seabrook may be traded because of the cap but I doubt that will be the case before his current contract expires after next season. They'd be much better off dumping Versteeg and Byfuglien than moving their other stud on the blueline.

So this whole idea of finding a stud under 30 defenseman that Dallas is somehow going to trade for is a non-starter. It won’t happen.

The second list of players are young guys trying to establish themselves on the above level. Some are more solely puck movers and while adequate in their own zone are never going to be labeled as complete defensemen.


Team Name
Atlanta Bogosian
Boston Wideman
Buffalo Myers
Calgary Giordano
Colorado Quincy
Edmonton Gilbert
Los Angles Johnson
NY Rangers Gilroy
Ottawa Lee
Philadelphia Coburn
Philadelphia Carle
Pittsburgh Goligoski
St. Louis Pietrangelo
Tampa Bay Foster (UFA)
Tampa Bay Meszaros
Toronto Gunnerson
Vancouver Ehrhoff
Vancouver Edler
Washington Carlson
Washington Alzner

Everyone has played at least a few games in the NHL this season. And I didn't even get into Franson, Blum, Shattenkirk, Sanguinetti, McDonagh, Weber, Sibisa, Bulter, Subban and dozens of other prospects that could be targeted.

These bolded ones are generally either having a down season or players that may have to be moved because of money. Who's better than whom, well that's a matter of opinion and probably even NHL teams would debate the upside of lots of these guys.

I don’t think there’s anyway in the world Atl let’s go of Bogosian, Buffalo Myers, Calgary Giordano, Colorado Quincy, NYR Gilroy, or Van Ehrhoff. Prying Calrson or Alzner is going to take a very nice payment as well.

So yeah the options are rather limited. Once you accept that the idea of rebuilding seems far more likely. Because of that list perhaps five of them turn into true number one studs. The rest become twos and threes and some will wash out completely.

Most of the players can be good in particular, lower-minute roles, but this team has failed to acquire or draft/develop truly top-end talent.

Okay wait. Daley has yet to be average so far in his career. Keeping him in a lower minute role and paying him 2.3 million for the privilege is poor money management. If he can’t fill a 3-4 spot then he doesn’t need to be on this roster. Why would you want to keep him? Why would it be a good idea to keep him instead of trading for a younger player with better potential? A pick is better than Daley even if it never works out. At least a pick won’t cost 2.3 million of NHL failure in all likelyhood. A new younger guy’s mistakes might be a learning curve for improvement. With Daley what you see is what you get and that’s not very good.

Skrastins is that older vet who finds work but really again I’m going to ask if keeping him for leadership purposes may be the first reason he should go out the door. I’m not blaming him for the failing of everyone but at this point the defense needs a fresh start and anyone associated with the old crew and its leadership probably needs to go.

As for drafting, well Niskanen’s a failure, does that mean they shouldn’t take another defenseman? Larsen’s done pretty well for himself over in the SEL and as long as he stays healthy, really what more can Dallas ask of him then what he’s proving in his current league. You want to question whether Dallas should have taken Kulikov instead of Glennie, I can understand but lets not kid ourselves that had we done so he’d be in the NHL right now. He’d still be playing for Drummondville of the QMJHL this season.

They've focused on offense rather than defense because for whatever reason where they've been drafting they prefer the forward to the defenseman available there. Yes that needs to change some. They have to take a couple of defensemen in this draft but its a matter of cycles. I don't think they've given up on d-prospects as a whole.

Until they upgrade the defense, and that's going to be very expensive in terms of assets in trade or FA (and no draft pick will help for several years, and none are guaranteed to help, and I don't think they risk that - it's what they've attempted to do with this group).

So they should just stop drafting these players? Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Because Niskanen is a failure they shouldn’t try to draft or acquire other young puck moving defensemen? They’re not all created equal and they don’t all come fully matured at 20, 23, or even 25. You also can’t compare a defensive defenseman like Fistric to a player like Kulikov because they play completely different styles and types of games. People who believe Folwer won’t save this franchise are entirely correct. That doesn’t mean that drafting that type of potential franchise defenseman is a bad thing or that developing him for four years before he’s NHL ready should in any way contradict what’s going on at the NHL level. You have to have a good scouting and drafting system. Players like Eriksson, Neal, and Benn don’t show up on the roster otherwise. Drafting also doesn’t preclude finding NHL ready players through other means. You need the combo platter of NHL talent, prospects and picks. Otherwise you're trying to cheat the development curve and will probably fail. Part of that is targeting guys who’ve played in the AHL. Guys able to step into the NHL now. Thirty or more of those guys show up on various teams throughout the season. Most won’t make it as more than 4s but if you trust your scouting department and believe in your coaching then acquiring a guy in that mold is a solid first step.

And at this point does anyone really want to see another year of this group of defenseman or would you rather watch some young kids and maybe a guy like Coburn or Goligoski? They may not be better as a group but I’d bet money they’ll improve. Can the same be said about Daley, Skrastins, and Niskanen?

Forgive me for not being excited about a potential draft pick when this defense is made up of mostly draft picks.

Comparing the car you buy off the dealership lot to the car on a NASCAR race track is hardly fair. Dallas is going to get a good pick. The 8th or 10th overall pick is far more likely to make it than the 22nd, 24th, and 33rd selections. And again because Niskanen and Daley didn’t develop the way you want doesn’t mean the method of drafting and developing is flawed it just means those two didn’t reach their potential. In case you’re unaware the AHL and NHL is littered with guys who had amazing potential they never reached. You still have to draft and develop these guys, especially in a salary cap system. Youth failing is a direction. Daley and Skrastins failing is just wasting everyone’s time. If the team is going to be widely inconsistent and again not good I'd rather watch the Islanders plan than the Minnesota one. Young player development is preferable to the hodge podge.

Trading what we’ve got, be it Morrow, Richards, Robidas, Ribeiro, Daley, Skrastins and Niskanen for a combination of picks and younger players is how its going to work. They’re not going to nor should they dump everyone listed above. They’re also not going to limit themselves to all NHL players or all picks and prospects. They’re going to try and walk the fine line of getting both so they can hopefully improve next year and in the future. Once everyone accepts that the question becomes will they try to muddle along and hope things improve. Will they embrace the rebuild? Will they redistribute money and hope it works out and do you trust this management group to get it right? Because if they try and plug holes without really making any major changes this team will continue to finish 16th-24th in the league on a regular basis. No one here wants that.

This is a user-created FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of SB Nation or Defending Big D. FanPost opinions are valued expressions of opinion by passionate and knowledgeable hockey and Dallas Stars fans.

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