Attempting to actually put my thoughts down in coherent words about today's events has certainly been tough.
I'm not even certain this post is coherent.
On Tuesday, the Dallas Stars made a series of moves that could have some very real lasting implications for the long-term future of this franchise. For weeks we've speculated about a Derek Roy trade and what his worth could be as a renter center, while only recently did it become apparent that Joe Nieuwendyk and the Dallas Stars were also planning on trading Jaromir Jagr.
This morning I quantified the impending trades with the notion that Nieuwendyk would finally be enacting a "true" rebuild, that moving Jagr at the end of an obviously lost season for a decent return could certainly be worth more than the possibilities of keeping him beyond this season.
I do think that one thing needs to be made clear: trading Derek Roy and Jaromir Jagr ahead of the deadline is not "giving up on the season" or even sending a "bad" message to the current players. The reality is that the team simply did not accomplish the mission set before them and while technically the Stars are still in reach of the postseason, Nieuwendyk could no longer ride on blind faith that this was a team that could suddenly figure everything out and go 9-3-1 to close out the season.
No, the season was lost the moment the Dallas Stars lost three of five home games on this homestand -- all three coming in increasingly embarrassing fashion. The trades themselves were almost inevitable; it's the value of the return that has been most troubling.
As we sit here after the dust has settled, it's certainly tough to say that the return for Jagr (a 2013 conditional second round pick and two mediocre prospects) was ultimately worthwhile. Jagr has been the most uplifting factor of this miserable season and perhaps the one thing the fans still had a hold of as the team spiraled out of control.
Just a week ago there was talk of the Stars signing Jagr to one-year extension; now we're discussing a trade that is quite obviously underwhelming at best and intensely depressing at worst.
So what happened?
To be clear, it's perfectly possible that this was the market for Jagr -- no matter what Jarome Iginla fetched -- and that this return was the absolute best that Nieuwendyk could get for the 41-year old winger set to be a free agency this summer. It's more than possible that holding out until tomorrow would not have fetched a better return, although it's troubling to think that the Stars turned down two second round picks just to turn around and make this particular trade.
The issue is with the notion that this particular return was more valuable to the Stars than what Jagr could have been to the franchise for the remainder of this season and possibly next. While trading Derek Roy was certainly a white flag on the rest of the season, moving Jagr is a sign that the team has completely given up and moved on -- so the return needed to be substantial, something that we could look to and say that the 2013 season was not nearly the wasted effort it feels like it is today.
The return for Derek Roy, while not exactly flashy, is certainly promising. Kevin Connauton is a promising young defenseman with very good offensive upside and exactly the type of player the Stars have been targeting lately. Along with the acquisition of Joe Morrow, the Stars have effectively rebuilt the franchise's depth on the blue line in just a few years -- and that's should be commended.
The problem now is the same as it ever was: Just what is the direction and identity of this franchise? If the Stars absolutely had to trade Roy and Jagr then the hopeful return would be one that effectively improved upon the future chances of the team -- and hopefully much sooner than later.
Instead, we're left with a pair of second round picks, a promising prospect and two middling prospects with fourth-line ceilings, with no actual improvements to the current team and absolutely no promises for the future or even a true bluechip prospect to pin our hopes to. Once again, we're left with hope and optimism that the future is brighter than the present, and even that is far from a given.
What is all boils down to is the very public fact that Jaromir Jagr had stated he wanted to return and that the Stars were interested in keeping him, and the promise and enthusiasm such a short-term future would bring, has left the fanbase grasping at attempting to determine just what the Dallas Stars and Nieuwendyk are attempting to accomplish.
It's one thing to decide that making the playoffs is a lost cause; it's another entirely to throw the season away for underwhelming value and a hope and a prayer for the future. If a top, bluechip prospect couldn't have been acquired then what was the actual value in this move? The Dallas Stars are speaking of a certain strategy in public, yet the actions do not effectively backup that message.
At any rate, the Dallas Stars trudge on. There are 13 games remaining this season and then we move forward into the offseason.
We'll have more on the state of this franchise and the challenges ahead for the Dallas Stars tomorrow.