The Vancouver Canucks are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in at the moment. They are one of the Stars' main competitors for the last two wild card spots, but they are a point back and the Stars have two games in hand. The Canucks expected to be significantly better than they are, and trade rumors have begun swirling lately presumably as a way to spark a playoff run.
In early February the Canucks were said to be willing to trade anyone save for Henrik and Daniel Sedin. This roster isn't so far away from being one of the top in the league to be devoid of talent. Two names that were immediately mentioned were Alex Edler and Ryan Kesler.
The Stars' two biggest needs are top four defensemen and a second line center. At the tops of their games those two names would be very good fits. But, if the Canucks had been at the top of their games then would these guys even be available?
Edler is the most glaring example of the problem. The Canucks trading Edler would be the definition of selling low. He has 15 points in 41 games. He doesn't play overly difficult minutes, and somehow is a whopping -23. Plus minus isn't overly telling, but a -23 in only 41 games is jaw dropping. Edler also mans the point on the third worst power play in the league.
These are not good footnotes.
The Canucks are also not going to give Edler away for free. Oh, by the way, did I mention he just had a six year 30 million dollar extension with a no trade clause kick in? The situation isn't ideal for any team wishing to acquire him. They are going to have to give value for him, he has to want to go to the team asking about him, and the team has to be willing and able to absorb a five million dollar cap hit.
On the bright side, some of his poor production can be explained away by bad luck. Edler has the lowest PDO (shooting percentage for plus save percentage for) on the Canucks by far. Only three defensemen in the league with at least 20 games played have a lower PDO. He's bound for some regression back to the norm, but is counting on some improvement worth the risk for a developing team like the Stars? If the Canucks are expecting peak value probably not.
Ryan Kesler is the type of second line two way center the Stars could use for the long haul. No one in the Stars organization fits that bill unless you want to dream on possible further development from Cody Eakin. At some point they will likely need to go outside of the organization to acquire a second line center. Perhaps the potential availability of Kesler is the time to strike.
Kesler is suffering from a low PDO like Edler, and the same question marks about Kesler's impact on the power play remain. He is signed at a cap hit of five million dollars per season for the next two years. Like Edler, Kesler would be a nice long term piece to pencil into the lineup.
The key with Kesler is that he has a history of taking critical defensive matchups. Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Eakin have been taking those for the 2014 Stars. Acquiring a player like Kesler would conceivably put Seguin and Benn in better matchups which should have a positive impact on offensive production for the team as a whole.
What would the Canucks be eyeing in trades? Ben Kuzma of The Province speculates:
The Canucks would have interest if they could get a potential top-six forward who’s under term and has an upside.
The enviable forward depth the Stars possess could make them a realistic trading partner for the Canucks. Alex Chiasson would still seem to be the Stars most obvious trade chip if they look to make a big move, and he fits the needs expressed above. Brett Ritchie would seem to be another solid fit.
Adding either player is an interesting proposition, but as we dive head first into trade season it would be wise to heed the words of the already notoriously cagey Jim Nill as passed on by Mike Heika:
Nill said he feels the organization has great forward depth in the AHL to handle any issues. Asked if he might consider a trade to add a boost to the forward ranks, Nill said: "I don’t think so."
"I’m not sitting here saying I need to add a scorer," he said. "I like our mix, I like our growth. You've got to be careful with additions, with the chemistry of the team and the growth of the team."
It might be fun to speculate about the addition of a forward, but Nill suggests it isn't going to happen. He certainly has no reason to tell anyone publicly what he is planning, but we can't go by much of anything other than what he says. And he says he doesn't think they would trade for a forward. A defenseman though? Well, that definitely seems more likely if a favorable deals pops up.
If Dallas does decide to get active both Edler and Kesler would be interesting targets. They haven't yet been publicly linked, but given the Stars needs it wouldn't be shocking if the link is made over the next week.