Scott Burnside at ESPN.com has put together a list of player who might be available at the trade deadline. Some are obvious, others not so much. Here are some of the few the Stars should definitely take a look at (or at least consider), if they feel a move at the deadline is needed.
Jay Bouwmeester, Florida Panthers
Last season, Atlanta GM Don Waddell did his best to sign Hossa to a long-term deal, but could not. Because the Thrashers were a draft-lottery team, the decision to trade Hossa was an easy one. Not so for Florida GM Jacques Martin when it comes to the talented Bouwmeester.
The Panthers hit the All-Star break just two points out of a playoff berth. The longer the Panthers stay in the hunt, the more difficult Martin's job is going to be. Bouwmeester has never played in a playoff game since the Panthers drafted him third overall in 2002, but has emerged as one of the top young all-around defensemen in the game. He appears certain to bolt Florida as an unrestricted free agent in July. The Panthers could use more offense, but if they trade Bouwmeester and fall out of the race, that won't endear the team to the handful of fans still left in South Florida.
Not likely for the Stars in a trade. The Panthers will want some serious scoring depth in return and the Stars are going to be reluctant to give up any young forwards or prospects that in a system that is already stretched thin. He's an UFA at the end of this season, so there's a good chance he would just be a rental since he's going to get top dollar in the off season and the Stars won't have much cap room. It's a nice dream, though.
Tomas Kaberle, Toronto Maple Leafs
Speaking of Plan B's, if Martin bites the bullet and hangs on to Bouwmeester, the next best thing in terms of a puck-moving defenseman might be Kaberle, who is fresh off a berth on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. He has a no-trade clause that he refused to waive last season when the Flyers wanted him, but Kaberle has suggested he would waive it now if asked. But Burke doesn't believe in asking players to do that. But he will move Kaberle if Kaberle asks to be traded. Confused? Regardless, Kaberle might be a boon to a team like Washington that already boasts Mike Green along the blue line. Or the Rangers? Kaberle has two years left on his current contract at a manageable $4.25 million annually, a pittance compared to what the Rangers are paying underachieving Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival.
Now this is a move the Stars could potentially make. While he isn't Bouwmeester, Kaberle would definitely be a boost to the Stars' blue line.
Goalies after the jump:
Vesa Toskala, Toronto Maple Leafs
Speaking of Mr. Burke, he's been watching closely to see if the Finnish netminder is really the guy around whom he wants to build his new team in Toronto. Toskala, so good for so much of last season, has been wildly inconsistent in 2008-09 (3.29 goals-against average, .885 save percentage). Justin Pogge hasn't exactly lit it up in the AHL, but the Leafs goaltending prospect will likely get some starts in the coming weeks to see if he's got NHL stuff.
Toskala, who has another year left at $4 million, could be on the move. Where? Well, we're guessing Montreal GM Bob Gainey won't go into the playoffs with just Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak again, and there might be some appetite to try and upgrade between the pipes in Detroit in anticipation of a playoff showdown with San Jose or even Calgary, both of whom are much better between the pipes.
Manny Fernandez, Boston Bruins
Speaking of goaltenders, Fernandez represents an interesting dilemma for Boston GM Peter Chiarelli. With his 2.07 GAA and .928 save percentage, the former Minnesota netminder has been one of the most interesting stories of the season after coming back from a serious knee injury. Fernandez will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer and there is top netminding prospect Tuukka Rask waiting in the wings for the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins. Patrice Bergeron will return from a concussion in the next couple of weeks, but his durability is clearly an issue, and Marco Sturm is gone for the long haul. Does Chiarelli move Fernandez and bring in some offensive depth? Or does he look to ride his goaltending tandem deep into the playoffs?
Nikolai Khabibulin, Chicago Blackhawks
Good thing for GM Dale Tallon that Khabibulin didn't follow through on a plan to play in Russia this season. Like Fernandez and Tim Thomas in Boston, Khabibulin and Cristobal Huet have formed an unlikely tandem that has the Hawks imagining a long playoff run. Would Tallon like help down the middle? Yes. Would he move Khabibulin to get it? That's a big risk to take, but one he might consider. Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi might be intrigued by Khabibulin, who became the first Russian netminder to lead his team to the Stanley Cup when he guided Tampa Bay to the 2004 championship.
A backup goalie is something the Stars might feel they need and could go for in a trade. It's obvious they don't have any confidence in Tobias Stephan and the Stars need depth behind Turco. Manny Fernandez is the one that interests me the most; he's having a terrific season so far for the Bruins and he started his career in Dallas. He would definitely be able to take a few games and give Turco some rest and the Stars won't have to worry about a breakdown in goal. And just for the record: I know we all loved Mike Smith and miss him now, but Brad Richards has been great for the Stars and is something this team needs now and in the future.
Any move the Stars make hinges on one important factor: Where the Stars are in the standing leading up to the trade deadline. If the Stars continue to move up in the standings and are in a playoff spot, don't expect any big moves to be made. The Stars have too much payroll locked up in injured players and are thin at depth in the minor league system. They may feel that if this team as currently constructed can still make the playoffs then a move isn't warranted. If the Stars backslide in the standings however, a trade will become more likely.
What are your thoughts? Should the Stars go after a backup goalie or should they make a big trade for a star defensemen? Or are they fine like they are now?