Let's keep this simple, shall we?
The Dallas Stars and their three very notable pending unrestricted free agent forwards are going to dominate trade discussions over the next ten days or so. That's going to be absolutely unavoidable; in fact, I'm surprised more tangential rumors haven't started up.
Sure, we have Brenden Morrow to the Bruins (or Penguins) and we have Derek Roy to the Vancouver Canucks but that's just speculation and conjecture based on logical landing spots -- not any actual rumors based on insider information.
So, until we get to the point where actual trade talks start to happen between we're going to be left with the discussions we're seeing on Friday morning from some of the top (and legitimate) hockey sources around. Discussions that essentially boil down to "the Dallas Stars have some difficult decisions to make and just who will get Morrow when he's eventually traded?"
There's also the fact that with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry locked up, along with the financial situations of most teams next season with the lowered cap, the trade market is decidedly bare -- and the Dallas Stars are right at the top of the teams possessing actual tradeable assets other teams might covet.
So that makes a trade a possibly very valuable option for Joe Nieuwendyk and company. But the Stars aren't in the basement of the conference; they're still very much in the playoff hunt, as improbable as that sounds.
Let's quickly run down the latest:
*Pierre LeBrun of ESPN tackles the situation head on and acknowledges that the Stars once again could face another very tough decision at the deadline, almost exactly similar to what Nieuwendyk faced in the past two seasons. The past two years the Stars were burned by not making moves at the deadline, although LeBrun acknowledges that it was Brad Richards who turned down any trade offers -- not that Nieuwendyk decided not to move him.
At any rate, LeBrun feels the Stars and Nieuwendyk should wait until April 1 and see where the team sits in the standings after this five-game homestand -- if the Stars are within two points of a playoff spot, then keep Jagr but trade Roy and Morrow.
It's important to remember that this trade deadline, in a shortened season, complicates things a bit. There are just 13 games remaining for the Stars following the April 3 deadline, so not as much time in year's past for the ramifications of trades to fully make themselves known.
But I agree with LeBrun on his proposed strategy, no matter how much I want Roy to stay.
Morrow, a terrific captain over the years and a player oozing with character, won't stay in Dallas, I don't think. His role has been diminished this season, and it's probably time to make Jamie Benn captain next season. But you're also very respectful of what Morrow has accomplished for your franchise. Because of his no-trade clause, you let Morrow steer the ship here. Does he want to go win a Cup on a contender? Boston, perhaps? Find him a soft landing spot and let him have fun this spring.
Contract talks with Roy haven't gone anywhere over the past month. You can't blame Roy for seeing what Anaheim paid Ryan Getzlaf and realizing that, as a UFA scoring center in a weak UFA market, your price just went up. So if I'm Nieuwendyk, I trade him. Obviously you try to land a first-round pick in a deep draft. Short of that, a second-rounder plus a prospect.
Then hope Jagr, Benn & Co. can still get into the spring dance, where anything can happen when you've got Lehtonen playing goal like he is this year.
*Morrow gets the love from NHL.com as well as Adam Kimelman asks if the Stars should move the team captain:
The effects of 13 seasons of playing a crash/bang style began to catch up to Morrow last season, as injuries limited him to 57 games, and though he's missed two games this season, he clearly isn't the same player. Coach Glen Gulutzan even tried shifting him to the fourth line in the hope that would somehow spark him. Morrow's skills haven't completely deserted him, but it could be time for a change for both player and team. Morrow was on the younger side when he came into the League, serving as the guy who bumped out Mike Modano and Brett Hull; now he's in their spot as Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn emerge. The Philadelphia Flyers reportedly have shown interest in Morrow, and other teams could enter the bidding for a power forward who can contribute at even strength and on the power play.
*Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy also jumps in on the action
Morrow's physical, gritty style makes him the quintessential "last piece" veteran player. The Mark Recchi type that still can find the back of the net, but really excels at leaving everything he has on the ice when it matters most.
Brenden Morrow: Playoff Warrior is an indelible memory from his last trip to the postseason in 2008. He had 15 points in 18 games, carrying the Stars into the conference finals with one of the most stirring individual efforts of the last decade.
If he gives a team an iota of that effort in the postseason, he's an asset. So will he move?
*Consensus: Morrow isn't what he used to be, he could be valuable to a playoff contender and the Stars are almost certainly going to trade him before the deadline.
So...something that's been discussed for two years now is on the cusp of happening. I don't know how I feel about that just yet. I know it's good for the team and the franchise, in the long run, but boy it's going to be tough to see him play elsewhere.