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Dallas Stars Surplus: Who in Victory Green can Dallas Afford to Lose Through Trade?

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The Dallas Stars have been quiet during free agency, but regardless of what Jim Nill tells the fanbase, he's got plenty of farm pawns to move for a potential king. Especially at center and defense.

Trevor Daley takes a look at his War on Ice page
Trevor Daley takes a look at his War on Ice page
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It's crazy to think that a lot of Dallas Stars fans were probably as stung by the loss of Loui Eriksson just as much as we were joyed by gaining Tyler Seguin. But it's just mere psychology at work; the pain of loss is also the function of reshaping.

So how should the Stars reshape themselves to become better? Who will we reluctantly wave goodbye to when the time comes? Nill has said that should free agency not present them favorable opportunities, that a trade is more likely. So the big question is, who can Dallas afford to get rid of? For a visual guide of what I'll be looking at, I suggest checking out Derek's handy outline.

Center

Who they can't afford to lose

The Stars have a solid one-two punch in Tyler Seguin, and Jason Spezza. If injuries become a problem for Spezza, maybe we'll hear rumors about a potential trade within the next two years, but for now, Dallas wants to see how he responds to Act II. He's the kind of veteran who will be critical to developing wingers (especially with players like Denis Gurianov, Valeri Nichushkin, Jason Dickinson, and Brett Ritchie on his potential wing). And important to general depth should Seguin risk the life of his ligaments by playing the Florida Panthers again.

Who they can afford to lose

After Seguin and Spezza, things get a little murky. Cody Eakin is one of the most polarizing players on the Stars. He faces tough opposition, puts up reasonable points, and while he struggles defensively, he's still relatively young. However, he'll be an RFA for the 2016-2017 season. He's also the kind of player GM's tend to favor with his two-way ability, and even willingness to drop the gloves if need be (As a side note; my favorite part is hearing Razor and Ralph simultaneously exclaim "Cody Eakin?!") which means another team may be willing to overspend to acquire him.

There are lot of players in Dallas' system who would relish a potential third line role in Jason Dickinson, Radek Faksa, Devin Shore, Mattias Janmark, Brett Pollock (mostly a winger, but can play center), and Gemel Smith. Dickinson, Faksa, and Shore in particular have the kind of pedigree to assume a moderate level of NHL success right away, if not long term.

Faksa in particular. His numbers look downright anemic with 10 points in 32 games for the 2014-2015 Texas Stars season before his shoulder injury. But numbers can be deceiving. He plays the part of a big strong puck possession forward very well. My personal belief is that having NHL quality wingers will unlock at least some of his offensive game (similar to how Klingberg's defensive game actually improved in the NHL where he seemed skittish in the AHL now that he had teammates who could keep up with him mentally). Or maybe something crazy happens and he plays on Spezza's left wing with Nuke on the other side for a bruising, puck possessing trio.

Even if Faksa can't replicate Eakin's offense, the Stars have enough depth to supply him with wingers. And if not, plenty of teams will covet the former first round pick's two way ability and size. For me personally, I will never not root for the kid no matter where he plays:

Two or three will likely make it in the NHL, and even that's pushing it. So the Stars have to consider just who is the most expendable.

Right Wing

Who they can't afford to lose

Right now Dallas has Valeri Nichushkin, Patrick Eaves, Denis Gurianov, and Brett Ritchie on the not expendable list and that's pushing it.

Right wing is a strange position for Dallas. They clearly lack general depth. So their right wingers are players they can't afford to lose, but only by default. If the right trade comes along for the knight in shining blue line armor, it's hard to say.

Who they can afford to lose

Ales Hemsky, Ryan Garbutt, and Colton Sceviour round out the players Dallas would miss the least. Garbutt does have value. As Josh Lile documented, Garbutt is even top 25 over the past three years as far as penalty killers go. But he's done this. And this. And even this"Dirty as a truck stop restroom" to quote Razor.

At 30 years of age, and set to become a UFA for the 2017-2018 season, Garbutt won't be part of Dallas' long term plans with or without a more disciplined game.

Hemsky is an interesting case. Last season was a disaster. He put up his lowest point per game average than any other season, rookie year included. However, it's hard to believe he'll have a similar performance, especially given he appears to have been hampered by a bad hip all year. In addition to the fact that nobody would want his contract given last year's performance.

Left Wing

Who they can't afford to lose

You mean besides the resident Art Ross winner? Nobody really. Dallas has Roussel, and McKenzie to help round out the forward group and that's pretty much it. Remi Elie, Cole Ully, Brett Pollock, and Brendan Ranford are all players who could potentially see playing time, but not only are they long shots, they're also players who could get bumped down from the glut of centers we have that can play wing. Especially if Dallas keeps Eakin.

Defense

Who they can't afford to lose

John Klingberg, Dallas' resident unicorn.

Who they can afford to lose

You'll find a wide range of opinions over who and who is not expendable. Alex Goligoski, Jordie Benn, and Jason Demers will be UFA's next year along with Trevor Daley the year after that. Jyrki Jokipakka and Patrik Nemeth will be RFA's the same year Daley's contract is up. In addition, Mike Heika, always doing inspired work and always in the know, made a pretty interesting statement about Dallas' future blue line in his observations piece (emphasis mine):

They have a ton of young defensemen and believe two guys in the minors (Julius Honka and Esa Lindell) are NHL locks in the future. You don't get every deal you want.

The logjam is downright Lovecraftian.

If Dallas wants to make room for Lindell and Honka in the near future, the most likely scenario is for Benn and Demers to be replaced. But both have, beyond all odds, proven to be quite adept together.  So where do they fit? The tone from Heika's article is that Trevor Daley could one of the expendables.

Nemeth and Jokipakka have settled in and earned new contracts, but would it really surprise anyone if any one of the glut of defenders ended up outplaying them? It has less to do with being skeptical of Nemeth and Jokipakka, and more about the progression and randomness of prospects. Jamie Oleksiak, Ludwig Bystrom, Mattias Backman, even the newly selected Jospeh Cecconi might end up displaying just a little more ceiling, and all of a sudden Nill would be forced to make tough decisions about his prospects as much as his veterans.

Goaltending

The position has been discussed a lot since the Niemi signing. The Stars' goaltending prospects haven't exactly lit the world on fire, but they deserve to marinate. Because no one has taken the crease bull by the horns, there's no real play here.

Conclusions

Center and defense are the positions Dallas has the most depth at. It'll be hard to see some go, but you have to give to get. What would you be willing to give up for some of the UFA's next year who could be moved? Like Dustin Byfuglien? Dan Hamhuis? Or Braydon Coburn?

Dallas's offense wasn't a problem last season. They often say if it ain't broke don't fix it, but something that isn't broken can still be improved upon. After all, defense doesn't exist only behind the blueline, and coaches like Mike Babcock have articulated why wingers are more critical than ever to team defense. Trading for a winger, especially given Dallas' lack of depth, wouldn't necessarily be a doubling down of their offense despite appearances.

It's amazing to think that after several blockbuster trades, Dallas still has their prospect system thoroughly intact. But if they feel like this team can contend in the near future, the collective farm will need to be cleaned with more than just a few spigots.