Dallas has already plugged a few holes in their 2016-2017 leaking ship. They've got a coach who has explicitly penciled in Tyler Seguin as Dallas’ number one center. They’re picking third overall because the hockey gods decided Dallas finally deserved some mercy. And Ben Bishop will be Dallas' starting netminder.
It’s a good start for Jim Nill and the Stars. But it’s still just a start. There’s a lot of work to be done. So below I’ve listed three teams I think Dallas should be, at minimum, kicking the tires with.
The Wild are in a tough spot with the cap and expansion looming over them like white walkers with a public accountant certification. They’ve got $11 million in projected cap space to sign three critical RFA’s: Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, and Erik Haula. Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon have no movement clauses, which means the Wild have to choose between Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, and Marco Scandella to figure out their last spot.
As a result, Elliotte Friedman speculates that the Wild could swing a deal with Tampa Bay. However, why not Dallas?
Dallas still needs a top four left handed defensemen. However high the organization might be at exploring the chemistry between Esa Lindell and John Klingberg, the truth is that they’d be wise to explore the two away from each other. They’re simply not first pairing material together. Even if you grant that Lindell might improve enough to help the two become more efficient, it doesn’t change the need for a good left handed defenseman to compliment Julius Honka and Stephen Johns.
Enter Brodin. He’d be a perfect fit for Dallas right alongside Klingberg. He’s a modern day defensive defenseman, relying on mobility and IQ to break out of the zone. He also has some pretty amazing shot suppression stats.
With Minnesota lacking a first round pick, Dallas could dangle their Anaheim pick and a quality roster forward, or perhaps a pair of picks for the young Swedish defenseman. Brodin’s value will never be lower thanks to the Wild’s expansion problems.
Two problems with this scenario. One, Minnesota is in the same division, and even though trades within the division happen, this is a trade within the division between mortal enemies.
Two? Jim Nill is on an egg timer - Boston is reportedly talking to Minnesota about Brodin. Minnesota won’t mind a bidding war, but if you’re Dallas, you should at least be in on the conversation. Maybe you even entertain the notion of taking Jason Pominville off their hands to win that bid (Pominville has an albatross of a contract, but his $5.6 million cap comes off at the same time as Jason Spezza’s, and not for nothing, but as it stands today, he would instantly be Dallas’ most productive right winger).
As is often the case with Canadian teams, when you underperform, nobody’s shy about hurt feelings and hot takes. Jordan Eberle didn't have a good playoffs. So naturally he's in tradebait land.
Dreger on Eberle: "It sounds like he'll definitely get traded." #Oilers— Chris Nichols (@NicholsOnHockey) June 2, 2017
A lot of talk surrounds Dallas' defense. It's been an issue for the franchise for what feels like aeons. However, it's important to remember how average Dallas' offense was this season - 16th in goals for. And they'll begin next season the same way they started this season: with Ales Hemsky, Patrick Sharp, Valeri Nichushkin, and Mattias Janmark as complete question marks (at best).
Their situation at right wing is dire enough they may even want to bring back one of their UFA's.
Edmonton still needs a few things at forward, including a good young third line center. Normally this would have been a good spot for Cody Eakin, but from the way Sean Shapiro makes it sound on his latest podcast, Eakin might have played himself off the market and into an expansion slot.
Might Chiarelli start listening if Nill offered him Brett Ritchie, Patrik Nemeth, and a pick? Eberle, after all, is a perennial 20 goals scorer. Ritchie projects to crack 20 goals, but he’s not there yet. Dallas could get someone who would compliment Benn and Seguin, while Edmonton gets the younger Milan Lucic type that Chiarelli covets. Denis Gurianov is on the cusp of making the Dallas roster, after all, and he has a higher ceiling.
I know. The owners don’t like each other.
But Benning had a pretty good trade deadline, and so maybe Benning has earned carte blanche from Vancouver ownership to simply do what he’s paid to do, bloodfeuds be damned. Benning is interested in moving higher in the draft. Right into Dallas’ wheelhouse, in point of fact.
In addition, Frank Seravalli at TSN reported that Dallas has expressed interest in Chris Tanev.
Tanev would definitely cost Dallas their third overall pick. But this might be mere smoke. Mike Heika suggests that Dallas really likes the players that will be available at 3rd overall, and are more likely to deal their 29th and 39th picks if they do trade.
Could moving down to 5th along with another pick/prospect cost Vancouver someone like say, Alex Edler? Tanev is the better defenseman. Tanev might even be the best defenseman on Dallas’ roster should he wear victory green (certainly the best defensive defenseman). But regardless of how “weak” people call the draft, third overall will be an impact player from whatever position you want - whether at center (Cody Glass), wing (Gabriel Vilardi), or on the blueline (Cale Makar*, Miro Heiskanen, and Timothy Liljegren will be quality NHL defensemen).
Trading for Edler would give Dallas a good stopgap similar to Dan Hamhuis (who was genuinely good this season after some early struggles). Edler and Klingberg looked good together in their brief time at the World Cup, and Edler would warm the seat for any future Dallas prospect (whether someone in this draft, Gavin Bayreuther, or elsewhere). It helps that he’s a UFA when Spezza’s off the cap.
*The more I read and learn about Makar, the more I like this potential pick. Quality of competition should never be as important as quality of habit, and him being right handed is starting to feel like the oxford comma in Dallas. If you’re committed to development, try to develop him (or someone on Dallas like Honka or Johns) for potential offside instincts. Handedness is important, but talent’s kind of a big deal too.