Trevor Daley never developed into the high-end offensive player some hoped he could be some day at the dawn of his NHL career. He just keeps doing the same thing, year after year.
24 points, 25 points, 22 points, 27 points, 25 points, 13 points last year (which projected to about 26 in a full seasons...). A +2 rating, a +2 rating, +3, +7, +3, +1...It's the same old boring stuff.
And is that such a bad thing?
The Stars didn't seem to think so when they gave him a six-year extension at average cap hit of $3.3 million in 2011, the third year of which he now enters. In today's market that's not an unreasonable price for a 29 year-old defenseman in his prime with over 600 games experience who will give you 25 points per season, kill penalties, and see spot power-play duty.
See Dan Girardi ($3.4 million), Jonathan Ericsson ($3.25 million) and Johnny Boychuk ($3.4 million) all at 29 years of age like Daley, and with similar or worse point totals.
The Stars' problem is that they too many of these solid, dependable, second or third pairing-type guys, and not enough of the number-one types to lead the group. Again, it's their problem. Not Daley's.
He was dealing with a neck issue under the radar last season that caused off-season surgery in which a bone was taken out of his hip and placed in his vertebrae.
"When you deal with the neck, it is pretty serious, but I feel great now. I've been cleared to do all of my workouts," Daley told Mike Heika last month. "It definitely affected me last season. It needed to be done."
Daley could find himself in a variety of places when the season opens on October 3rd. He shared 26.5% of his ice time with Stephane Robidas last season, 26.2% with Alex Goligoski and 24.8% with Jordie Benn. Goligoski, Robidas or Brenden Dillon seem like strong possibilities this year after Lindy Ruff sorts out who will skate with Sergei Gonchar.
Daley has been placed in a group with Robidas and Jordie Benn to start camp in Ft. Worth, but as the other NHL caliber d-men in Gonchar's group are Jamie Oleksiak and Aaron Rome, we won't read much into it.
We know what Daley will be in-season, and so his rank on this list is relatively low, though his dependability at this point in his career is quite high. What we don't know is his future.
If Jim Nill and Tom Gaglardi should get the impression during the year that their current rebuild may need elongation and further patience, isn't Daley a prime contender to get dealt? If they believe that Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak or Kevin Connauton should be given time to grow at this level while the rebuilding process continues and contention is years away, should they not see what kind of value there is to be had?
On the other hand, Daley has developed into a leader in the locker room and in the community. With Stephane Robidas possibly moving on along with Ray Whitney, and Gonchar's short tenure here, veteran leadership and depth will be in short supply soon, and that is an area where Daley could excel as his deal progresses.