Ric Jackman is a 36-year-old defenseman currently playing for the Nippon Paper Cranes of the Asia Ice Hockey League according to Wikipedia. During his somewhat brief NHL career, the right-shooting blueliner scored 77 points in 231 NHL games while picking up a Stanley Cup ring with the Ducks in 2007. Hey, maybe he could be a 3rd-line pairing for the Stars' D this year to balance things out, right? I mean, sure, Jackman never really landed with any club long-term, but he must have been useful to the Ducks on some level. Those are the type of players you need to have lying around, able to soak up minutes in your bottom pairing without too much trouble. And hey, a defenseman that can average 25+ points a year while soaking up ice time is great to support your flashy rookies who are still acclimating themselves to the arduous nature of a full NHL season. After all, that's where the true top-defensemen come from, right? You have to use those high draft picks (or get fortunate on your later ones) and develop those guys into blue line studs.
The Stars, of course, have done kind of the worst job at this, but it's not like they've had much opportunity. Since 1993, do you know what the Stars' three highest overall picks have been? Fifth, eighth, and ninth. And they even used that fifth overall pick in 1996 on a defenseman, although it didn't work out. That defenseman was named, of course, Ric Jackman. So the Stars have used both their highest and most recent draft pick since 1993 on a right-handed defenseman. Even in their very limited action in the draft's top ten, the Stars did try to find a franchise defenseman, once. Let's hope Honka works out better than Jackman, though. I think he will.
Sean McIndoe recognized just how bereft of high picks the Stars have been (some through their own trades) in deeming the Stars the second-worthiest team of landing Connor McDavid next summer. So go ahead and read this if you're convinced the Stars are doomed:
The Stars haven’t had a first overall pick since moving to Dallas. They weren’t supposed to be in the running for one this year either, with most experts picking them as a potential breakthrough team after back-to-back offseasons spent loading up offensively.
Instead, they’ve been one of the season’s biggest disappointments, thanks largely to shoddy goaltending and a weak blue line. But while they may not be very good, they’re still an awful lot of fun to watch. The Stars are never going to be the Cowboys, but Dallas is a big market the NHL would probably love to have a larger chunk of, and the fan base is reasonably strong.
Drop McDavid into the mix alongside Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and friends and every Stars game would instantly become must-see viewing. Sure, they might lose 8-7, but you’d be watching. [Grantland]
Let's be clear: finishing low enough to even qualify for the lottery would be a massive failure for this team this year, even though the result of such failure would be a windfall of no small order. Expectations may have been set higher than warranted in a lot of quarters, but this is a team that should make the playoffs, not one that should be getting throttled by Toronto and Colorado and giving up five goals night after night.
That said, it's nice to know that some people out there wouldn't mind seeing next year's Stars look much more like the dominant hockey team that was supposed to be on the horizon. Their window is open as long as Kari can become a top-10 goalie again, and the defense next year should certainly be a high tick better than what we've witnessed so far this year. Toss a franchise player in there to boot, and yes, it's easy to see why that would get people excited. And hey, if the Stars continue their current path, maybe that hope could be almost as exciting as winning hockey games. That is not nothing, technically.
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Friday Links promise respite from work and, perhaps more mercifully, no need to watch goals being surrendered.
Don't bother. [Stars Recap]
Guess what Dallas defenseman is now in Corey Pronman's Calder Cup watch listings? Insider link. [ESPN]
One outfit has already given Dallas an "F" for the season. [Rant Sports]
Ryan Suter has the mumps. Not great news for the Minnesota power play, which has been bad. [Minnesota Star Tribune]
Adam Larsson is finally starting to find himself after some early season healthy scratches. [THN]
If you have further interest in Connor McDavid, check out this longform piece by Sam Riches. Good stuff here. [SB Nation]
Who is hockey's real iron man when you take playoffs and other professional leagues into account? The answer might surprise you. Did you click yet? Um, also, someone DIES. Well, somewhere. Life happens. Click click clickity clackity click this link -> [The Hockey Writers]
All Star sweaters? How about NEON GREEN AND CHROME ALL STAR SWEATERS. [Icethetics]
Finally, Daniel Alfredsson is officially retired now, and here was a cool ceremony they did for him and with him last night: