Barring some miracle, the Dallas Stars are not going to make the playoffs this season. At the trade deadline, the Stars will look to unload several unrestricted free agents in hopes of acquiring draft picks and/or prospects that will help them either:
A) make moves this summer to trade for a piece that will help them next season (goaltending, defense, penalty killing forward, maybe some scoring depth)
B) acquire a player that a team needs to offload in order to protect themselves in the expansion draft this summer
What players are the most likely to move at the trade deadline? We look at three major UFAs that Dallas could trade for assets by March 1st.
Perfect for: teams considered to be contenders or bubble teams looking to add scoring
Strengths: goal scoring, leadership, Stanley Cup pedigree
Weaknesses: high cap hit, declining production, injury concerns after concussion earlier in the season
Why He’ll Move: Sharp’s services will be in high demand for those teams that are either comfortably in the playoff picture and want to shore up their scoring depth, or for teams that believe they’re just one piece away from making that push into the picture.
Several of these kinds of rental forwards move at the trade deadline, when teams have a clearer picture of their cap space available at the end of the season and can fit someone with a big cap hit contract in due to the prorated amount they’ll have count for just a portion of the season. (Cap hits are complicated, yo.)
Why He Won’t Move: While prorated, that contract still has a hefty cap hit and there’s a number of contenders that would have to make additional moves work to fit him in as they’re up against the cap already.
Though his production has declined the past couple of seasons from his 60+ point years, he’s only one year removed from a 55 point campaign with the Stars. He’s not likely to get a contract at the $5 million+ range like his last, and the Stars could see him as a valuable part of the future here. If Sharp likes it here, and can see winning here, the Stars may hang onto him through the end of the season to try to re-sign him in the offseason.
Perfect for: literally every team
Strengths: career offensive season, relative health, insanely affordable cap hit
Weaknesses: history of concussions, shooting percentage that is due to regress a smidge
Why He’ll Move: Eaves is the perfect combination of offensive forward that is on a very team-friendly contract. In other words, as close to a unicorn at the forward position as a team is likely to find at the trade deadline. He’s a very enticing rental forward for basically every team, and particularly for those teams looking to boost their power play. Not to mention, he has a top-notch beard which we’re pretty sure gives him magical powers.
The return the Stars might be able to wrangle from a team for Eaves at the trade deadline makes him possibly one of the most enticing trade assets for the organization this season.
Why He Won’t Move: Eaves has signed three straight one-year contracts with the Dallas Stars. He seems to really like it here, and the Stars seem to really like having him here. He’s tops on most people’s list of UFAs to re-sign, and with several key forwards set to become UFAs this summer, Dallas may not be able to find a better option to fit into the lineup so easily as Eaves does.
Perfect for: playoff teams looking to shore up defensive depth, bubble teams with young bluelines looking for veteran experience
Strengths: hockey IQ, defensive acumen, Stanley Cup pedigree
Weaknesses: age, contract size
Why He’ll Move: He’s one of the most experienced blueliners that could be available at the trade deadline. Those teams that miss out on the Kevin Shattenkirk sweepstakes will be looking for a similar player, and Oduya offers a combination of offensive capability and penalty killing skills as an all-around defensemen. He’ll likely help bolster a blueline and fetch at least a draft pick in return for the Stars.
Why He Won’t Move: Oduya may not be healthy enough to trade at the deadline. While some players have been traded while they are injured, most of the time those deals are based on long-term injuries that the player is unlikely to come back from (see: Chris Pronger being traded to the Arizona Coyotes in the summer even though he hasn’t played a game since the 2011-2012 season.)
As well, Oduya is one of the veterans the team has on a relatively inexperienced blueline:
Esa Lindell: 52 career games (48 this season alone)
Stephen Johns: 57 career games (43 this season alone)
Patrik Nemeth: 92 career games
Jamie Oleksiak: 100 career games
John Klingberg: 192 career games
Jordie Benn: 297 career games
Johnny Oduya: 782 career games
Dan Hamhuis: 927 career games
By trading Oduya, and opening up a top four defensive spot to be filled by someone else, the Stars would be basically throwing in the towel on the season and going full youth movement even more than they have this season. Without any other moves, Dallas would have six defensemen with a total of 790 career NHL games (excluding Dan Hamhuis) - or 9 1/2 total seasons across six people.
He also has a modified no-trade clause that allows him to control his destination to a degree (he can list 17 teams that he cannot be traded to, so that leaves 12 teams he could be traded to for Dallas to try to reach terms with.) Given his age and experience, it is unlikely that Oduya would want to be traded to anyone but a playoff-bound contender. The question is whether any of those teams can afford his cap hit — or have a roster spot for him to slide into.