With the salary cap world the NHL finds themselves operating in these days, teams have been forced to get creative to keep themselves on the right side of the cap ceiling. As the Canadian dollar continues to struggle, the salary cap is not increasing as much as in years past, and teams find themselves looking to shed contracts.
Such was the case when the Chicago Blackhawks looked to trade Patrick Sharp last summer. Sharp, an integral part of Cup winning teams of years past, was coming off one of his worst offensive campaigns in seven seasons in terms of points per game. Combined with the emergence of several younger players, Sharp found himself in a different role on the Blackhawks squad which many felt impacted his production.
Whatever the reasoning for the move, Chicago traded Patrick Sharp to the Dallas Stars last summer, and Sharp seemed to thrive this season. He posted a respectable 0.72 points per game this year, improved over the 0.63 points per game in the year before. Sharp was used on the top unit of the power play. While he found himself bounced around the top six to spark offense on different lines throughout the season, Sharp performed on a team that was stock full of offensive talent.
The best part may have been the apparent fun Sharp was having this year. Any time a player spends so many seasons with one club and then finds themselves on a new team, there can be a bit of a transition period. Sharp seemed to fit in seamlessly, and early in the season remarked he hadn't had "this much fun playing hockey in a long time."
Sharp's experience was a big part of the Stars' hot start to the season. By all accounts, he was a leader in the locker room and provided playoff experience for the Stars' relatively youthful and inexperienced team. In other words, he did everything the Stars were hoping for when they acquired him from Chicago last summer.