If you were writing up a trade deadline strategy for the Dallas Stars after 20 games, you’d likely have them pegged as a seller. They had a 10-9-1 mark, on pace for about 86 points on the season. That’s not generally enough to get teams into the playoffs in the West, and that kind of point pace would usually mean the jettisoning of pending free agents as a way to get some assets in return in lieu of them walking away for nothing in the offseason. It’s a way to re-rack for the next season and a way to focus towards the future.
It’s kind of amazing what a second quarter can do to change that direction.
Dallas is 18-8-3 since then, and find themselves in a close battle for the playoffs in one of the tightest divisions in the league. As they approach the trade deadline with one month to go (the trade deadline is Monday, February 26th this year) and 13 games between now and then, and sitting in the first Wild Card position today, the Stars aren’t likely to be sellers at the trade deadline.
After all, players like Dan Hamhuis and Greg Pateryn, both pending free agents after this season, have been part of the winning solution recently. Trading Hamhuis might net a middling prospect or draft pick (or potentially more, depending on the desperation of playoff teams and their injury situations as well as the availability of quality defensemen at the trade deadline), but the experience he has is hard to replace for a playoff run for a team that is fairly young (and definitely inexperienced in the playoffs) on the blueline.
Teams don’t generally trade away pieces that can help them in their quest to make the playoffs - and then make noise once they’re there. With the Central Division as close as it is, upsetting the balance of the roster could be more detrimental in the immediate future while not providing enough value in the future to be a worthwhile endeavor for the Stars.
That sword cuts both ways, too. Bringing in a piece can be just as detrimental to the current roster if that piece doesn’t gel easily or produce in the way the team needs them to in order to improve the roster. While not quantifiable, there is something to be said about locker room culture and the closeness of a group of guys that have battled together all season — and what impact inserting a new person into that dynamic could potentially have.
With everything seemingly clicking right now, it’s hard for me to imagine the Stars making significant moves at the trade deadline.
I would expect them to hold onto pending free agents for a playoff push. I’d also expect them not to make a trade unless it makes sense for the current team and doesn’t impact the future too terribly — the ever elusive “hockey trade”, so to speak.
What would that kind of hockey trade look like?
I’d imagine it’s insurance for the top six forwards. While the secondary scoring has definitely been producing lately, if the Stars were to lose Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, or Alexander Radulov to injury for an extended period of time, this team may not have the right pieces to fill that position from within and produce like it has been.
The trick, of course, is whether teams that will be selling at the trade deadline have a piece that the Stars will be able to afford from a cap perspective and can produce in a top six role here. We’ll profile a few potential targets as we move closer to the trade deadline, but it is important to set the table for what kind of targets the team could be going after in February.
What strategy do you anticipate the Stars taking at the trade deadline?
What strategy do you think Dallas will take at the trade deadline?
This poll is closed
Sellers (goodbye, pending free agents)
Buyers (hello, future Stars top six winger)
Nothing to see here (no significant moves made)