We're getting closer and closer to the 2012 NHL trade deadline, which is just over two weeks away. It's during this time that rumors will start spreading like wild fire and each game by the Dallas Stars will make the path forward for this team all the more clear.
We've discussed the various strategies the Stars could take headed into the trade deadline and while we like to think that how they play over the next few weeks will decide whether this team is a buyer or a seller, it's likely that Joe Nieuwendyk and Tom Gaglardi already have their plan firmly set in their minds. The Stars are a team that is obviously not built to contend this season and while making the playoffs is always the goal, this franchise desperately needs to start planning and building for the future.
After all, the Stars have a good, young core of players to build around. Given the circumstances of the past few seasons, we should be thankful that we have this hold onto. At least there is a hope for the future, with an owner in place who has stated emphatically that he plans on spending money to build this team into a contending hockey club once more. That's something the Dallas Stars has been missing for quite sometime.
The reality of the current situation is kicking in and each game our hope for postseason heroics gets picked away, piece by piece. The Dallas Stars, because of a complete lack of financial stability, are at their lowest point since coming to Dallas. That this team is still competitive at all, after three years of little vertical improvement, should be commended. The 2012 NHL Trade Deadline is the first step in the "rebuilding" process for the new owner and Nieuwendyk and while we don't expect as big a splash as most would like to be made, the Stars will at least be active in attempting to making some moves.
So, who on this team is likely to be available at the deadline? Let's take a look after the jump.
Nicklas Grossman, Defenseman.
2012-13 Contract Status: UFA
Nicklas Grossman is the name that keeps coming up again and again and it's only logical to see why. The pending free agent has plateaued in his development in Dallas and after a few strong years to start his career he's struggling at times this season, in ways that make him visible on the ice for all the wrong reasons. Given the defensive depth this team is building in the system (and the type of defensemen the Stars are developing) Grossman is likely become expendable, for the right price.
Grossman is the target of scorn by the Dallas Stars fans this season (a bit unfairly, if you ask me) and his lack of physicality, along with defensive zone turnovers, are making him the scapegoat for a number of this team's troubles. Yet Grossman remains one this Stars' best penalty killing defensemen and he's been used in tough minutes against tough competition for most of his career. This stability makes him a shiny object of attention by other teams and he could be the target of those in need of a defensive blueliner who can play well in the right situation. Teams like Chicago, for instance.
Sheldon Souray, Defenseman
2012-13 Contract Status: UFA
Sheldon Souray signed with the Dallas Stars in a win/win situation for both player and team. The Stars needed physicality and depth on defense and Souray needed a team willing to give him the chance to prove he could still play in the NHL. Souray is going to be 36 this summer, however, and it's unlikely he has much of a future with the Stars beyond this season.
Souray started the season with a bang and for the first month was in the running for comeback player of the year. Yet his offense has slowed down and his penalty troubles remain, and while Souray's physicality and positioning have been a welcome addition to the team he has dropped off a bit in terms of offensive effectiveness, although that big booming slapshot is still there.
It should be noted, however, that he and Stephane Robidas are still seeing the toughest minutes by any defensemen and they're doing their best to hold up under the challenge. Souray has been a solid player and leader for this team this season and his contributions should not go unnoticed.
Souray could be moved to a team in need of a solid, veteran defenseman for a playoff run -- although he likely would be part of a package deal.
Adam Pardy, Defenseman
2012-13 Contract Status: 1 year, $2 million remain
Pardy is the first true "bust" by Joe Nieuwendyk as far as free agents go, although Andrew Raycroft comes in at a close second. Giving Pardy a two-year, $4 million contract seemed extraordinarily risky this past summer and it looks positively horrific now. Playing in just 22 games this season, Pardy has been a healthy scratch for most games and when he plays is far from effective. His lack of mobility with the puck and inability to maintain defensive positioning has become a liability for a team already struggling with team defense.
It's tough to say whether Pardy is even going to be trade-able, since that contract is something teams will certainly shy away from. That likely won't stop the Stars from trying, however, as they attempt to get out from under a contract that was a mistake from the start.
Adam Burish, Right Wing
2012-13 Contract Status: UFA
Adam Burish came to Dallas last season after winning a Stanley Cup in Chicago, with his leadership on the ice and personality off of it immediately making an impression with the fans and the locker room. Last season he played anywhere from second line to the fourth and saw a ton of time on the penalty kill unit, proving himself as a dedicated shot blocker and defensive forward.
This season, Burish hasn't been nearly as effective and has lately been on the fourth line most nights. Limited minutes and low penalty killing minutes have reduced his role further and while he remains a leader off the ice, the spark he provides on the ice has been diminished. Yet, his grit and mental fortitude could make him attractive to a team in need of a spark themselves, with some thinking he could be headed back to Chicago.
Eric Nystrom, Left Wing
2012-13 Contract Status: 1 year, $1.4 million
I know this will hurt many Stars fans' hearts, but Nystrom could be one of the more valuable forwards the Stars have in terms of trade value. With a career year on offense and his always high-energy, physical play Nystrom could be the sort of player many teams would covet as they build depth for the postseason.
Nystrom has instantly become a fan favorite in Dallas thanks to some big goals and his charismatic personality off the ice. His offensive output remains an anomaly, with an incredible 18.8% shooting percentage this season and 15 goals, with just 3 assists in 50 games. Yet his ability to finish around the net won't go unnoticed by teams in need of depth and it will be interesting to see what value he could bring should teams ask about him at the deadline.
Radek Dvorak, Right Wing
2012-13 Contract Status: UFA
Dvorak has been a solid addition to this team in the twilight of his long career, especially with his contributions on the penalty kill. Yet he's an older vet who will be a free agent this summer and like other veterans on this roster, doesn't have a future on a team looking to get younger and more skilled. Dvorak won't be the centerpiece for any trade but once again could be part of a package deal used to bring better depth to the Stars.
Michael Ryder, Right Wing
2012-13 Contract Status: 1 year, $3.5 million
Here is one that is creating some debate among the DBD staff. Should Ryder be someone the Stars consider trading? Obviously, for the right price, anyone is technically available. Yet Ryder is one of the few "snipers" on the roster, capable of scoring from almost anywhere in the offensive zone. We've seen this season that he is certainly a streaky player yet he's on pace to score over 30 goals will will come close to sixty points this season.
His defensive liabilities have created some matchup issues for the Stars at times but there's no doubt that his scoring ability will look very, very good in a trade market devoid of prime scoring wingers. The question, of course, is how the Stars justify trading one of their few scoring wingers when this team is already in dire need of scoring depth? It's a matter of building for the future and if the Stars see Ryder as a viable piece of that long-term plan, then I can understand holding onto him. Yet if Ryder could bring back good value to the Stars to further help that building process, then they should not hesitate a trade for the right price.
The likelihood of Ryder being traded is certainly small and would be a sign that the Stars are completely bailing on the possibilities of making the playoffs. Yet the Stars also need to think of the future, and it will be interesting to see just how tempted Nieuwendyk would be to move the top goal-scorer on this team.
I'm sure we'll get comments about Morrow, Robidas, Ott, Ribeiro and some others. The thing to remember is all of these players have NTC's and while the Stars could certainly ask them to waive it, it's unlikely any of them are moved at the deadline. Morrow's injury status takes him out of the conversation, although it was looking like he might be open to the possibility of a trade if the Stars asked for it. Mike Ribeiro, given his contract, will likely not be a target for teams and the Stars are already dangerously thin at center.
As far as prospects go, there's no way to tell who is available and who isn't. If the Stars aren't going to be buyers then trading away picks and/or prospects makes little sense, as those players are part of the plan for the future. The depth at goaltender isn't as deep as we'd think, either, with Bachman a RFA this summer and Tyler Beskorowany having lost favor a bit in Austin this season.