It's been announced today that the Dallas Stars have placed backup goaltender Alex Auld on waivers, temporarily solving the question of what the team was going to do with three goaltenders on the roster. After the trade for Kari Lehtonen, many believed that Marty Turco would soon be on his way out. Yet Turco immediately played perhaps his best hockey of the season leading up to the Olympic break and put the Stars into great position for the playoffs, just one point out of 8th place.
So the question then became, what will the Stars do with Turco? Was his elevated level of play too valuable for the Stars to trade away when he gives them the best chance in the playoffs, or is this a team that desperately needs to get something in return for a goalie they're most likely going to lose this summer? The Stars decided the move would be to place Auld on waivers, and immediately solve the issue of having three goaltenders on the roster.
After the jump, we'll examine these issues and break down why we think this was the perfect move for the Stars to make.
There is a sentiment out there that the Dallas Stars have to trade Turco away no matter what, because they are most likely going to lose him this summer for nothing and this isn't a team that is going deep into the playoffs anyways. The Stars need to build for the future, and holding onto Turco now and getting nothing in return is suicide for the future.
Yet there are a couple of factors you have to consider when dissecting the decision Joe Nieuwendyk and the Stars made when placing on Auld on waivers.
Marty Turco gives the Stars the best shot for the playoffs.
If the Stars were 6+ points out of the playoffs at this point, and sliding down the standings headed into the Olympic break, then the Stars were most likely going to trade Turco no matter what. The season is most likely over at that point, as it's near-impossible for them to make the playoffs. It's already improbable that they are this close at this point as it is, and they are still facing a massive uphill fight.
Yet the Stars must focus and work towards making the playoffs this season, especially considering their place int he standings. No matter what the plan for the future might be, Marty Turco gives this team the best shot now, not a tandem of Alex Auld and Kari Lehtonen.
Remember, the Stars traded for Lehtonen for the future and what his potential means for the goaltending position for the Stars in the long-term. He has yet to play a game in the NHL this season, and needs to be worked back into playing time, ideally backing up the starting goaltender for the Stars the rest of this season.
Marty Turco's value in a trade is not worth losing him for the rest of this season.
Many say Turco needs to be traded, simply to get some value for a him before he leaves via free agency this summer. Yet he is nothing more than a rental player, he has an expensive contract, he's 34 years old and there are not any teams out there in the playoff race that is in desperate need for a starting goaltender. The goaltender market is flooded right now, especially considering some of the names coming available this summer.
So what could the Stars hope to get in return if they traded Turco now? Other teams have the upper hand, knowing the Stars would be in need of trading him considering they have three goaltenders on the roster.
Unless Turco is traded as part of a much larger package deal, the best you could for in return is a mid-round draft pick and perhaps a mid-level prospect. You certainly won't receive anything in return that will help the Stars immediately after the trade.
I understand that many are convinced that Turco must go, and the Stars need to get the best value they can for him. Obviously the Stars are ready to move on, seeing as they jumped on the chance to acquire Lehtonen and get ready for a future without Turco.
The Stars have reportedly shopped Turco, have inquired about what teams would be willing to give up in a trade. The Philadelphia Flyers seem to be the most logical destination, yet even they are on the record as saying there's no way they can afford his contract.
So if the Stars can't get good value for Turco, there's no need to actually give him away. A winning season, a playoff berth now is much more valuable than a random 6th round player that won't make the NHL for 2-3 years at best.
Turco and Lehtonen > Lehtonen and Auld
If the Stars had to lose one goaltender, yet still find a way to make the playoffs and still be successful, then keeping Turco was the only option. Alex Auld was good with the Stars and did exactly what he was signed to do, yet there's no doubt that this team was not confident they could rely on Auld down the stretch if Turco was traded. Thus, if the Stars were going to trade Turco and take that chance then it would have be be for a return to make that risk worth it.
So the team has to weigh whether success this season is more important than trying to get any value they can for Turco by trading him. Nieuwendyk and company have maintained all season that the goal is to make the playoffs, not just building for the future. If they can do both at once, them they've solved and mastered the ultimate challenge for a new general manager.
There are still many pieces this team needs to be successful in the short and long term, and keeping Turco for the next few months will not suddenly solve them all. Yet with the team this close to a playoff spot, trading Turco now would be the equivalent of waving the white flag on the season.
There's also no guarantee the Stars keep Turco. Perhaps a team comes along with a package deal that overwhelms the Stars with the value they'd receive, and they'd have to make the move and hope continue with Lehtonen and Matt Climie. Doubtful, but possible.
The finances are still going to hamper this team's ability to make any major moves, and perhaps having Turco's salary on the books will hamper that further. Yet if we hope to have a successful season, this year, then having Turco in net is the best bet for this team in the near future.
Next season? Well, that's a different story.