Good morning there, everybody. Too bad the Stars can't just play the Coyotes and the Kings all year, right? Haha, just kidding--we know that's against the rules. Plus it would get boring playing the same old teams over and over. And if there's one thing we don't want around here, it is "boring." Unless you are a beetle or a specific sort of carpenter. Then go for it.
While there have been a lot of takes on the Demers/Dillon swap, Sports Illustrated is the latest source to chime in by calling the trade "puzzling." Here's their spiel, which includes thoughts on the Spezza extension as well. Read the whole thing:
Considering [the defense's] struggles over the first quarter—Dallas is averaging 3.35 goals-against per game, 27th in the league—a change was exactly what this group needed. At age 40 Gonchar was playing out the string and Connauton, while highly skilled, never managed to earn the faith of the coaching staff. No tears were shed over their departures. But the decision to move Dillon is puzzling. As recently as last season the 6'-4", 225-pound late bloomer was thought to be part of the Stars' core moving forward, a reliable physical counterpoint for a group that was mostly geared toward puck movement.
Granted, Dillon got off to a slow start this season, but that was expected after he missed all of training camp while waiting for a new deal with the team. And a slow start is no reason to move a 23-year-old with upside. Nor is concern over having to go through the contract process all over again next summer. At its core then, this has to come down to a desire to add yet another puck mover. And the fact that Demers is a right-handed shot made him all the more desirable. The Stars started the season with six lefties on the back end. Now, with Demers and the surprising John Klingberg, who was recalled from Texas (AHL) last week, they've got two righties and a whole slew of options for reconfiguring the unit. [Sports illustrated]
What this trade seems to keep coming back to in this and other recent articles is two things: The value of a right/left defense balance and Dillon's upside. Nill has mentioned how the old Red Wings were always keen to have a balanced blue line, and Lindy Ruff has said similar things about the Canada Olympic team as well. So we know that's a big thing for leadership, even though they didn't really do anything about it last year or even this past summer (unless you count drafting Honka, which I can see you doing. I can see you right now, doing that.)
It's pretty tough to isolate the benefit of a balanced defense pair, though. There's no question that it should be better, just because of the obvious preference for having the puck on one's forehand in order to make quick passes, win 50/50 battles, and even shooting before the lane closes. Realistically, though? It's far from a concrete thing. And when you look at Dallas' first game with their top four defensemen balanced, as it were, I'm not sure you can cite their shot suppression numbers as an example of said benefit. Quite the opposite, in fact. Granted, it's one game, yada yada yada, but I think it's safe to say that the defense has not quite been "fixed" so far. Time will tell, though.
The other thing is Dillon's upside, and that's something that time will reveal to us as well, unless you're a believer that Dillon's unique blend of size and skating ability (and apparent shot suppression aptitude) make him a better bet to solidify your defense than Demers. And you know what? In my heart of hearts, I kind of think that Dillon is special, and that the Stars will miss him more than they realize right now. Yes, Demers is no slouch, and the 3rd rounder could be downright deadly in the Stars' hands down the road, but I don't know that I would have the guts to ship out Dillon after fewer than two full season of NHL experience based on what I think he's capable of doing long-term. Of course, that is why Jim Nill has a multiyear General Manager contract. He should be the person best able to make decisions like this, since their implications have enormous import for his job and his coworkers' jobs.
One last thing that jumps out at me here is this: Demers is signed through the 2015-2016 season, at which time the Stars will either re-sign him (if he hasn't been extended, of course) or find themselves needing to replace him with a different right-shot defenseman. If you have any guesses on who might be ready to take that spot by then, go ahead and give your horn a Julius Honka. That sounds weird, but it isn't. Well, maybe just a bit. Good weird, though.
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Monday Links are here. You got a problem with that, bub?
Fear the Fin called Brenden Dillon's debut for the Sharks "a mixed bag." Here's more: "Dillon's excellent skating and puck-moving ability was on display all night; it's nice to have a defenseman with the confidence and skill level to skate the puck out of the defensive end by himself rather than deferring to the coaching staff's stretch-pass-leading-to-a-dump-in method of zone exits. At the same time, he had some issues when trying to cover for Burns' mistakes and the Doan goal appeared to partially go off Dillon's skate and in as he got crossed up with Antti Niemi." [Fear the Fin]
While Dallas traded Dillon for the sake of righty/lefty balance on the blue line, San Jose gave up their handedness balance in favor of Dillon's size and (ostensibly) possession aptitude. [Hockey Buzz]
Darryl Sutter was not impressed by the earthquake during the Kings' game in Dallas Saturday. I also deserve some serious props for not saying a thing about how lame a three-point earthquake is compared to what California has to offer. Because, just like weather, these things are all relative to your average experience. I'm sure it was unsettling. [Kings Insider]
Jamie Benn also got the #2 star of the night from Puck Daddy after slicing up the Kings over the weekend. [Puck Daddy]
Jay Bouwmeester's absence Sunday after a lower-body injury marked the end of his "iron man" streak at 737 games played. It was the longest active streak in pro sports. [Stl. Post Dispatch]
Brian Elliott showed another way such streaks can end. Yikes. [Twitter]
Dallas Eakins is proud of the "real class" the fans in Edmonton showed during the Oilers' 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Chicago on Saturday. He wasn't being sarcastic, either, which is kind of puzzling considering the aftermath of the loss. [NHL Video]
And perhaps the reason for a lot of the Oilers' troubles is, Adam Proteau speculates, their continued reliance on former stars who maybe shouldn't be so relied upon. [The Hockey News]
Here's a random profile of a former North Stars player: Glen Sharpley. [The Hockey News]
Finally, speaking of great passes from defensemen, check out one of my all-time favorites from Zubov at this link right here.