The Dallas Stars have long sought the elusive top pairing defenseman which makes them no different from any other team. Every team wants one. If they're greedy, every team wants another one when they find one.
They're a rare breed. When a team finds one, they generally do whatever they can to hold on to them. Should one become available for some reason you have to think the Stars will be in line trying to acquire him along with most teams in the league.
The question is: how big of a need is a top guy?
The Stars, like any other team, would always welcome a top pairing defenseman. It appears that they may already have one though. The emergence of John Klingberg is the single most significant event of the 2014-15 season.
Klingberg is already producing at an elite level at even strength. It should be noted that he is riding a 15% shooting percentage out of the gate so the goal total is a bit inflated. Defensemen usually shoot from further out given the nature of their position so expecting him to maintain such a high shooting percentage is unrealistic. This doesn't overshadow what we've witnessed him do. His hockey IQ is off the charts, his passing is exceptional, and he does have a quality shot. The kid is a keeper.
The stable of defensemen, particularly young defensemen, behind Klingberg is getting pretty full. Patrik Nemeth was great at the end of last season, and at times it is easy to forget he still figures in prominently after missing most of this year due to his freak wrist injury. Last year's first round pick, Julius Honka, is holding his own in the AHL. Jyrki Jokipakka and Jamie Oleksiak are alternating back and forth between the NHL and AHL.
This doesn't even speak to the veterans. Alex Goligoski and Trevor Daley are under contract for a while. Jason Demers, Jordie Benn, and David Schlemko are kicking around too.
Further this is only guys in North American professional hockey. Esa Lindell and Niklas Hansson are both producing at promising rates at young ages in Finland and Sweden respectively. The Stars own the rights to several other defensive prospects who could provide some value to the NHL roster down the line too.
All of this depth puts the Stars in an interesting position at the trade deadline. They want to make the playoffs. They know where they are weak. The area they are the weakest happens to be their biggest area of prospect depth. That depth is going to give them options.
1. Pony up for the biggest, baddest defenseman they can find.
This is easily the most appealing option if it's possible. The biggest name we've heard mentioned is Tyler Myers, and that isn't going to cut it. This is a case where reputation outweighs value. The same can be said for Dion Phaneuf.
Jake Gardiner and Cody Franson have had their names in rumors at various times this season too. Keith Yandle is another name to watch. These guys may not move the needle like a Shea Weber or P.K. Subban, but those guys aren't available. Any of these three could be the best defenseman dealt at the deadline, assuming they are moved in the first place, and they would all fit with the Stars in both the near and long term.
2. Acquire a shorter term contract second or third tier defenseman.
Brandon recently mentioned a perfect example in Marc Methot. These guys are much more common to find on the market, but valuable nonetheless. Acquiring one of these guys is going to make the situation on defense even murkier for 2015-16 if the player is under contract for multiple years, but the focus is on making the playoffs now without hurting the future so this may make sense. Another good example is the recently acquired Jason Demers.
3. Continue to let the prospects develop and see where things go.
At first glance this seems like a reasonable answer given the depth, but the regularity with which prospects flame out has to be acknowledged. The Stars could stand pat if nothing materializes, but there are no guarantees that the prospects in the system will work out. The sheer volume of prospects suggests things will be fine long term, but do the Stars really want to stand pat if given the opportunity to strengthen this year's team?
The trade deadline is approaching. We could see the Stars do any number of things, but the upgrades which will give the Stars the biggest bang for their buck will come to the defense corps. The question is do the Stars want to pay the price to make a big splash, or is their preference to play it safe? Based on their recent history if a big fish is available they will be in on it, but any upgrade to help down the stretch will be considered.