As you are all extremely aware, another long off season for the Stars means there are once again a few key issues that need to be resolved. The two most prominent of these issues is the possibility (probability?) of losing Brad Richards after the Free Agent period begins July 1st, and the situation with our defensive corps. Both are huge concerns for next season and the future of this franchise.
Letting my mind wander on a lazy saturday afternoon where the weather is disgusting here in Boston, I started toying with a couple ideas.
First: Since leaving the Columbus Bluejackets, Nikolay Zherdev has been that guy with mountains of skill but close to 0 work ethic who 30 teams and their fans toy with taking a chance on. He's had a pretty up and down career so far. He had 34 points in 57 games as a rookie, 54 in 73 as a sophomore, then an extremely lackluster 32 in 71. He had a bounce back year his contract year with the bluejackets back in 08-09 tallying 61 points in his first full 82 game season. However that either wasn't enough to convince the jackets to keep him or (as some reports suggested) he was unhappy playing for the bluejackets so he decided to test the market. Looking for some offense as usual, the Rangers picked him up and he had a decent but not impressive or talent-indicative 58 points. The thing that had rangers fans confused/unhappy/frazzled/frustrated with him was his streakyness. He would have a few games where his ridiculous skill was apparent and he made the other team's defenders look like drunk babies on skates and put up a bunch of points, but then he would go and disappear for a few and his lack of effort/commitment would show itself. So after taking a year off where he went to play in the KHL, he came back and the deep Philadelphia Flyers decided it couldn't hurt to take a chance on him... He had 22 points in 56 games.
Now by this point some of you are probably wondering what awesome drugs I'm probably on to think this would be a good idea, but if you look at the flyers forward corps you'll see one of the main reasons he put up points- after you throw up at their depth of course. The flyers forwards corps is highlighted by Danny Briere, Jeff Carter, Claude Giroux, Mike Richards, still emerging James Van Riemsdyk (this kid will be an all star), Ville Leino, and now Kris Versteeg. In that kind of lineup of course a guy who still needs to prove himself is going to take a back seat. Zherdev spent most of the year playing 3rd and 4th line minutes so he was never really given the chance to show his stuff.
Seeing as Richards is probably leaving, the Stars need to do anything and everything they can to boost their offense and signing Zherdev for pretty cheap or giving him a tryout if nobody else does could be a big win if it works out and a meh if it doesn't like Cheechoo was. Giving him big minutes either with Ribby and Morrow or on whatever the other scoring line will be could spark him. With a good new coach, Gary Roberts to watch over his physical conditioning, and the character the Stars have in the room Zherdev could be start working hard to stay in the NHL and provide key scoring for the Stars. I know we've had our fair share of bad experiences with highly skilled unmotivated/over hyped players (brunnstrom, stefan, Niskanen to an extent) but this team is going to need to replace at least a chunk of Richards' offense somehow and this could be something they try.
Now to the even worse part of this post...
Jack Campbell is going to be an all star and is a huge part of the Stars' future right now. But again the Stars need some help now with both their offense and their defense. While trading Campbell isn't desirable at all and I DON'T LIKE THE IDEA (remember this is a possible scenario/lazy musing so don't act like i want this to be the case) he's an extremely highly touted prospect and a bunch of other teams who have assets the Stars could use are looking for that next goaltender. Kari Lehtonen returning to form is the main reason I thought of this- I don't think his current contract will be the extent of his time with the Stars. With Lehtonen ensuring our next few years between the pipes and Richard Bachman rounding into a good pro goaltender and hopefully a future NHLer, Jack Campbell could reap huge rewards for the Stars if they trade him to one of the teams who are going to really need one. I made a little list of teams needing a goaltender of the future, who their current guy is, and what players they have the Stars can use. I'll give you a modified Version:
DISCLAIMER- Trading for any of these guys would almost definitely have to include other players/draft picks so I'm not creating possible trades here I'm just saying who the Stars could try to get from a trade involving Campbell. Also this list is in no particular order just the order they came up in my head
1. Calgary Flames; Current tender: Mikka Kipprusoff (34 yrs old, aging quick with the workload); Guys they have the Stars could use: Jarome Iginla, Rene Bourque, Mark Giordano, Robyn Regehr, Anton Babchuk
4. Philadelphia Flyers: Goaltenders: Boucher, Leighton, Bobrovsky; Guys we could use: James Van Riemsdyk, Kris Versteeg, Danny Briere, Jeff Carter, Ville Leino (I left Mike Richards and Giroux off because I think they're untouchable)
^The last two are probably the hugest stretches in the world except maybe with Gagne.