The Panthers are just awful. Due to their awfulness, GM Dale Tallon is reportedly open to dealing any of his players not named Jonathan Huberdeau, Erik Gudbranson, Jacob Markstrom, or Drew Shore. The Panthers are bad for a reason, but they do have some talent to offer interested parties. They have plenty of players who could make an impact for the Stars.
The Stars are in the position to be both buyers and sellers. Ideally in trades they will target players they can control for years past this season. They have plenty of cap space with which to fit players in, but cap space can erode quickly if spent carelessly so several players making more than they probably should are going to be axed immediately. (On a related note, sorry parents of Tomas Flesichmann, Kris Versteeg, Scottie Upshall, and Tomas Kopecky.)
Four players in particular stand out as fits. Marcel Goc is the only forward. Mike Weaver, Brian Campbell, and Dmitri Kulikov stand out on defense.
Goc isn't a particularly sexy trade target, but he's the type of player teams always pick up this time of year for the playoffs. He would be an excellent depth addition. Over the past two seasons the Panthers have used Goc to mop up their tough minutes, and he's been relatively successful at limiting the opportunities of the opposition. He's signed to an affordable contract at 1,700,000 per year also.
Goc brings some offensive pop as well. Not much, mind you, but some. He currently is picking up 1.34 points/60 in 14 even strength minutes per night. He's 7th among Panthers forwards in points/60 ahead of Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg, and Tomas Flesichmann. All of a sudden I feel like I'm writing a post on why the Panthers stink. Weird.
Another aspect of his game that would be a godsend for the Stars is his ability to win a faceoff. On the season he's at 51%. The Stars have struggled mightily on the dots, and another guy down the lineup capable of winning a draw here or there wouldn't be the worst acquisition in the world.
The duo of Brian Campbell and Mike Weaver are both interesting potential additions for the Stars blueline. Both see top competition on a nightly basis and succeed in possession. Weaver sees more of his ice time in his own end of the rink than Campbell, but Campbell is the far superior offensive player.
Contract questions come into play with the duo. Weaver has one year remaining at a hair over a million dollars. The Panthers still owe Campbell 28 million dollars over four years. The Stars could ask the Panthers to keep 50% of the cap hit on their books, but as is 7+ million dollars for a 33 year old defenseman seems unlikely for the Stars.
Were the Stars to pursue Weaver he could help the defense considerably. The problem is where he fits in the lineup. The Stars have a fairly deep group of defensemen. They need someone to lead the group. Weaver is a nice player, and would be a solid addition, but I think the cost would be prohibitive given that he isn't the top pairing guy they need.
Finally, there is Dmitri Kulikov. It's strange to me that the original report didn't mention Kulikov as untouchable, but since they didn't we will work under the assumption that the 22 year old offensive defenseman can be had via trade.
Kulikov, at 21 last year, had four goals and 24 assists in his already third season. He plays 21 minutes a night, but hasn't had much puck luck so far this season with zero goals. One thing that continues to improve is his possession ability. He leads Panthers regulars in Corsi after subpar possession numbers in his 2012 campaign (though a large portion of that can be attributed to the Panthers getting him in the offensive zone more often this season).
Kulikov has ideal size to go with his offensive ability. He's signed for this year and next at 2.5 million. His skillset is one that the Stars current group of defensive prospects is missing. The problem is slotting him into the lineup. He likely makes one of Trevor Daley, Alex Goligoski, or Jordie Benn redundant. Benn probably shouldn't be going anywhere, but I think acquiring Kulikov would signal that Daley or Goligoski will be moving.
I went into this exercise thinking this could take a while. The Panthers have proven that assumption to be false. The doors are open, but the cupboard is bare. Outside of these four players I can't see the Stars being interested in much anyone else. Kulikov is the most unlikely target, but he would be a coup if the price isn't astronomical. The deadline is in three weeks so we will see how much interest the Stars have in any of these guys in short order.