The NHL trade deadline is just two weeks away, falling on February 26th this season.
As the number of games between then and now dwindles, team’s front offices and scouting staffs will be going over their current roster and prospect pools to prepare themselves for moves to improve in the present and in the future — with the emphasis on one over the other often dependent on current standings and likelihood to make the playoffs.
Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill will be no different.
In a tightly packed Central Division, the margin of error is slim. Five points separate non-playoff teams and the second Wild Card position. But just five points separates the first Wild Card position (where Dallas sits today) and first in the Central. A prolonged losing streak could change the playoff picture dramatically. That likely means that many more teams in the West could consider themselves buyers at the trade deadline rather than sellers.
Historically, Jim Nill has not made many major moves at the trade deadline. His biggest moves — the acquisitions of Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, and Marc Methot in recent seasons — are generally made closer to the NHL draft than the trade deadline. Those that he has made, such as the acquisition of Kris Russell, have not been the most “splashy” of moves at the trade deadline.
However, one thing that Nill is known for is his secrecy.
The biggest moves he has made have linked the Dallas Stars with the player in the deal at the last minute — we’re talking maybe an hour before a deal is announced. His front office is tight-lipped, and that makes it a little harder for Stars fans to get excited around the trade deadline. After all, part of the fun of being a fan is hearing all of the potential players your favorite team is associated with in the rumor mill.
When Dallas is linked to a player, it’s often as speculation based on the media’s perception of the Stars roster needs and a likely fit in terms of players assumed/known to be available. Kind of like Nick Kypreos’ casual mention of the Stars interest in Rick Nash, the New York Rangers winger that is slated to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The lack of rumors that is likely to occur in the next two weeks doesn’t mean that the front office isn’t trying to make moves to improve the Stars roster. It would just be in-line with the modus operandi of Nill and his staff — even if it isn’t fun for the rest of us. Until we see the likes of Mike Heika, Scott Burnside, or Mark Stepneski commenting on a potential move, it’s best to consider any links between Dallas and other teams and players as a possibility, but not necessarily an imminent move.