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Defending Big D Mailbag, Volume 4: Deadline Dealings, Amnesty Clause

As the NHL trade deadline came and went last Monday, Dallas Stars fans were on pins and needles waiting to see what, if anything, their favorite team would do. It turns out Joe Nieuwendyk had seen enough from his team to convince him to stand pat and take his chances at a playoff push with the current roster. Just about everyone I've talked to since then has asked my opinion on this, and if I think the Stars made the right moves (or non-moves).

"Do you think the Stars could have done more on deadline day? What players were in-play? Do you think GMJN has the confidence to pull off a big trade if one was made available to him?


I think one point that the Defending Big D team has been pretty good about hammering home in the past few weeks is that you shouldn't make a trade just for the sake of saying you made a trade. I think that if a trade to improve this roster had been offered, Nieuwendyk would have pulled the trigger. That said, prices were going up all day long, and what was available didn't really jibe well with what the Stars had to offer and what they had in place.

One school of thought is that the Stars could have traded off some supposed dead weight veterans on expiring contracts to stock pile on later round draft picks, but I don't buy that as a viable option. Depth is incredibly important to a team that thinks it can make a push for the playoffs, so decimating that depth for a few late round draft picks would have been counter productive.

Sure, the Stars have hit on some late round steals in the past, and it's generally a good plan to have many draft choices as possible, but I think this is a very unique team in a very unique situation right now. Making the playoffs is an incredibly important goal for this ownership group, management team, and fan base. Because of that, I feel that selling for the sake of selling, without a specific target, would be detrimental to this team's best interests.

After the jump, I answer questions about what the Nicklas Grossman trade means for Mark Fistric, and explore the possibilities of the NHL adopting an NBA-style amnesty clause for bad contracts.

What does the Grossman trade mean for Mark Fistric's future on the team? I really like Fistric. He's one of the few Stars I actually care about.

Jess Denna

The reason Nicklas Grossman was made available was the Stars logjam at defense. With solid prospects at the minor league level waiting for their chance to shine, plus the well-documented hunt for a top-end defenseman via either trade or free agency, it became a game of numbers for the Stars. When it became obvious that Grossman wouldn't be offered a new contract, the Stars looked to move him to avoid losing him for nothing.

Nick Grossman and Mark Fistric are very similar players who came into the system at the same time. They're both big, physically imposing, defensive-minded, and with incredibly limited offensive potential. Why the Stars felt Fistric had more of a future with this team than Grossman, I can't say. Maybe they felt that Fistric's more physical style and penchant for throwing big hits fit in more with the "Hard to play against" mantra of Glen Gulutzan.

I don't think that Fistric's role on this team is approaching untouchability or anything, but his presence had a lot to do with Grossman's departure. The Stars only had room for one player in that mold, and they made their choice for the time being. I think they made the right one, and not just because Mark is my step-daughter's absolute favorite athlete. His big hits have an intangible effect on the team and the fans, not to mention their marketability in commercials and in-game videos.

"So, I'm watching the Sharks/Caps game on NBC Sports, and I started thinking: what if, in the new CBA, they adopt the NBA's amnesty clause provision. There has been some discussion of this around the internets, with Ovechkin being listed as a primary candidate. What do you think the odds of Gagliardi going full on impact signing and making a play there? While he may not be the player he was 2-3 years ago, he's a heck of a name signing to get noticed in DFW, provides some scoring, and even a lesser Ovi is still pretty good. Who do you think the Stars would amnesty? Any other targets? "

For this question, I actually had to do a little research. I'm not a basketball fan by any means and had no idea what the amnesty clause was all about. From my understanding, it allows every team to waive one player's contract without suffering any kind of salary cap penalty. While on waivers, the player's rights would belong to the highest bidder on his contract, while if no one makes a claim, he becomes an unrestricted free agent, who is free to sign with any team he chooses.

This isn't too dissimilar to what the NHL did a few years back, allowing teams to buy out their bad contracts at the start of the new CBA. As far as who the Dallas Stars would use this provision on, I don't think anyone comes to mind. The Stars are luckily not saddled with any albatross contracts right now. Brad Richards was the closest the Stars had, and they seemed pretty pleased to have him until he bolted for New York.

As far as the chances of taking advantage of this provision to employ Alexander Ovechkin in Dallas, I think that's as big of a long shot as you can imagine. While he is certainly not putting up the production the Washington Capitals have expected from him recently, I think there would be more than enough teams out there willing to trade for him if he were put on the block right now.

The Washington Capitals aren't about to give up on Ovechkin, and if they do, it won't be via waivers, amnesty or not. He's simply too important to the identity of their team. All the excitement that runs through your brain when you think of Ovechkin suiting up for the Dallas Stars is exactly why the Capitals won't give him up. They know his potential just as much as we do, if not better. They're excited to have him.

The more likely candidates for something like this would be Montreal's Scott Gomez, the Rangers' Wade Redden, or the Islanders' Rick DiPietro. Not exactly salivating anymore, are we? While it's certainly possible that a good player would end up on a new team via an amnesty clause situation, it's important to keep in mind that the vast majority of these players were waived for a reason.

That's all for this week's mailbag. Remember to send in your questions to Defending Big D for next week's Mailbag.

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