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3 Trades That Could Improve The Stars Next Season

Like it or not, Dallas would be wise to be sellers at the trade deadline so they can start preparing for next season.

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Even fans with the most glass-half-full lenses are prepared to write the obituary for the Dallas Stars 2016-2017 season. Dallas would have to leapfrog Vancouver and Calgary (who have games in hand), which would require six points as it currently stands to sniff a wildcard spot. In the mission impossible scenario where Dallas does work their way into a spot, does a team with shaky goaltending, bottom-of-the-barrel special teams, a blueline lacking speed and depth, and a stagnant offense for a club that has only strung together three wins in a row once in 57 games project to make any noise in the playoffs?

Jim Nill has a tough task, navigating phone calls and back alley discussions among general managers weirded out by the expansion draft. However, nothing is strange about a team’s willingness to push for the Stanley Cup. Teams will be more than willing to trade assets for what Dallas has to offer.

As armchair GM in this article, I’ve only chosen three for the sake of brevity.

Patrick Eaves and Patrik Nemeth to the Washington Capitals for a conditional 2nd round pick and Jonas Siegenthaler

Conventional wisdom among fans is that Eaves could potentially fetch a first. He’s having a career year, with 21 goals a little more than halfway through the season. However, first round picks are still valued. Despite the reputation of the 2017 NHL draft, the lack of generational talent is offset by the abundance of depth.

After all, people said the same thing about the 2014 NHL draft and off the top of my head, the following names project to be impact players: Ekblad, Reinhardt, Drasaitl, Honka, Larkin, Nylander, Ehlers, Fabbri, Pastrnak, Vrana, and many more I’m either forgetting because they haven’t yet made the jump, or made the jump a long time ago.

The condition for the 2nd round pick would be that it turns into a 1st round pick if Washington makes the Stanley Cup Finals.

Trading Nemeth would help remove the veritable Shibuya crossing of hoarded defensemen Dallas currently has. It offers Washington a young defensemen with NHL experience (including playoff experience) in case someone like Brooks Orpik goes down due to injury (which he has a history of). In addition, the Capitals can fit both underneath their remaining $2M in cap.

Then there’s Siegenthaler. The 19 year old defensemen is currently playing in the NLA, Switzerland’s top league for the ZSC Lions. He’s surprisingly similar to Nemeth, except he’s much more mobile despite his equally imposing 6’3 frame. Below is a good, in depth, shift by shift look at what he’s capable of:

His agility is exactly as advertised. Like Nemeth, his point totals throughout his young career are low (perhaps alarmingly so), in part because he doesn’t have a booming shot from the point. But he makes (very) quick, confident passes, and transitions up ice smoothly with two-way IQ. He’s a lot like a left handed Stephen Johns, just with less bite. Sticking more defensive prospects in the cupboard through trade also allows Dallas to focus on adding depth at wing through the draft, which they are short on. It would hurt to see Eaves go, so pour one meme out for our bearded soldier homey in the comments section.

Dearest Annabelle, I shall soon be mustered in for a new temporary term of service as Lt. Col. in Washington. Though our paths must diverge for the moment, I trust that you will be thankful to read of the great deed as I ride shank’s mare against Crosby’s evil to protect the eternal service as your devoted companion.

Patrick Sharp, Jason Dickinson, and a 3rd round pick to the Anaheim Ducks for Jonathan Bernier and Shea Theodore

This one is tricky, contingent on the success of the third trade scenario below (since Nill wouldn’t take Bernier unless one of Lehtonen or Niemi were gone).

Having said that, Anaheim is in a difficult spot with both their goaltending, and their defense. On the netminding front, John Gibson is their defacto starter, making Bernier a very expensive backup. Even better, Anaheim has a cheap backup if necessary in Jonas Enroth, who is currently playing for the San Diego Gulls with a fantastic .954 save percentage. Getting rid of Bernier’s contract would allow them to have Gibson and Enroth in net, while setting them up for extra cap space next season.

The defense is even trickier for Anaheim. They can only protect four defensemen for expansion. That means Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler, and Kevin Bieksa (because he has a no movement clause) at minimum. This will leave Bob Murray to choose between Sami Vatanen (signed through 2020-2021), Josh Manson, who combined with Fowler make up one of the better duos in the entire league, Brandon Montour, and Shea Theodore (this isn’t even counting Simon Despres and Clayton Stoner, who are injured). One way or the other, their defense will be targeted.

Adding Sharp improves a Duck offense that has struggled (18th in the league in goals for), as well as improves their power play. The pick is the price Dallas must pay to get Theodore, who is worth much more on his own. He’s a left handed puck moving defensemen that Dallas doesn’t have either in the NHL or on the farm.

Losing Dickinson, who projects to be a diet-Kesler, would hurt but you have to give to get. With Seguin, Spezza, Faksa, and Shore down the middle (not counting Janmark, who can play center, and Eakin, who Ruff considers one), Dallas can afford to trade a center so long as they’re getting a quality return, which Theodore is.

Antti Niemi to the Edmonton Oilers for Laurent Brossoit

At some point, Nill is gonna have to begin extricating himself from the two-headed Finn monster that are Kari and Antti. They haven’t been the reason for Dallas’ collapse by any stretch. But they’re also not the answers moving forward, especially with their cap hits.

Edmonton is a team with plenty of cap space. They’re also a team with playoff aspirations, so nabbing a goaltender with Stanley Cup experience with just another year after this season might be attractive to them since it doesn’t handicap them in the future, and benefits them short term if Niemi acquits himself well. Brossoit has only played three games this season, but he’s looked respectable. He’s not the missing link in Dallas’ neverending string of underperforming backup goalies (his career numbers aren’t eye popping), but he’s a netminder Dallas can send to Cedar Park if need be. This could also set up a theoretical scenario where Justin Peters (Texas’ netminder who has almost single handedly stabilized the Texas Stars) gets some NHL playing time as well. Then Nill can re-rack in the summer.

The Big Picture

Granted, these trades might simply confirm why I’ll never be a general manager, but that’s why Nill gets paid, and I just beg for blogging change. I don’t think Dallas needs that much work to return to contention. The following three trade scenarios clear up their defensive situation. The blueline hasn’t struggled because Dallas has eight defensemen. They’ve struggled because they don’t have the type of defensemen to prove they’re more than depth. Siegenthaler and Theodore project to do precisely that, short-term and long-term while profiling as blueline needs.

Meanwhile, Dallas frees up cap space for next season so that Nill can nab a real number one goaltender, winger, or left-handed defensemen. Dallas is in a unique position as a playoff caliber team that happens to have a young core. As such, a strong move to pick up prospects on the cusp of making the jump feels like the best move to ensure Dallas can be a successful team more than just twice every four years.