I don't know how we missed this last night, but On The Forecheck has a very lengthy post up this afternoon detailing how the Nashville Predators should trade for Fabian Brunnstrom. This has suddenly become a hot topic after Darren Dreger reported last night that Brunnstrom's name has become the subject of trade talks in Toronto, where the GM meetings are taking place.
Dirk Hoag makes a convincing argument that a Dallas and Nashville trade makes nothing but complete sense, especially considering the Predator's point of view:
Is he the ideal Predator? Maybe not, but he brings to the table exactly those qualities which Nashville needs desperately up front. Put him on the wing with Erat and Legwand, and they've finally got the speedster they haven't had since Paul Kariya left town. Or put him with Colin Wilson and Patric Hornqvist, and get some real offensive pop out of that line.
According to CapGeek.com, Brunnstrom is on an entry-level deal with a base salary of $875,000, and bonuses that could take him to just over $2.2 million. After this season, he'll be a restricted free agent, meaning the Preds should be able to re-sign him for a reasonable sum, particularly since he hasn't had a breakout season yet.
Mike Heika weighs in and we share our thoughts on this scenario after the jump.
Unless somebody knocks them out with a great offer for something that could be even more helpful. What is that something? It could be draft picks, it could be a young defenseman, it could be a right-handed right wing. I don't think the Stars can take on big money right now, and Brunnstrom only makes about $900,000 (with A-level bonuses that he probably won't reach that could push it to $2.25 million). So unless Tom Hicks surprises us (and he has before), I don't think the Stars will make a move for a proven player with a big contract.
Still, many GMs see Brunnstrom as a player who could help them in the top six, and they would love to see if they can shape him as a scorer. That makes sense. But the Stars are not going to give away Brunnstrom unless they get something really good for him. They don't have to.
Right now Fabian Brunnstrom is the victim of two things: a slow start and too much depth ahead of him. He has the talent to be a top six forward in the NHL, but on the Dallas Stars he's relegated to third and fourth line action. When the team is fully healthy, he's going to be pushed all the way down the fourth line. He struggled off to start with last season, then has regressed a bit this year when he had to fight to adapt to a new coach and new system. He's certainly looked better the last couple of games and when he's playing next to Tom Wandell he's been pretty damn impressive.
He has good size and great speed and last season become the most accurate shooter on the team. He can be deadly at times with the puck and has started to show a knack for creating chances around the net with tenacity and puck handling. Yet it's been frustrating to see him knocked off the puck time after time, which is odd considering his size; perhaps Brunnstrom is still adjusting to the physicality of the North American game and hasn't developed the strong center of balance needed to fight along the boards. He's also shown to be a defensive liability at times in his own zone, something he's improved upon but still has a very long way to go.
The Stars made a commitment to Brunnstrom last season when they signed him, knowing that it would take time for him to develop. He has the potential to be a truly special scoring talent in the NHL, but right now it's frustrating to see him so far down the depth chart and he hasn't shown a lot to prove he belongs any higher either. I really want him reach his ceiling with the Stars and become that dependable scorer that every team needs.
So would I be open to the open to the idea of trading Brunnstrom? Just like with most trade rumors I'd be fine with it if the Stars gained something momentous in return. The Stars are deep at forward, yes, but we've seen what happens once injuries start to hit; Brunnstrom is valuable to this team. At the same time, if a team offers up a top defenseman or defensive prospects, I'd be willing to listen.
I'm just as frustrated as any that Brunnstrom has not progressed to where we want him to be. But he's also showing some great improvement lately and has finally started to look comfortable under Crawford. I don't want to see the Stars just trade him away for a bag of beans, but if there's a great offer on the table for a player that can truly help the team now, Nieuwendyk has to take that chance.