Jim Nill continued his relative silence in terms of buying big at the NHL trade deadline on Monday, as the Dallas Stars made no trades prior to the 3pm EST deadline.
Stars did nothing before deadline.— Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge) February 26, 2018
Amid a flurry of activity that included Ryan McDonagh to Tampa and Paul Stastny to Winnipeg, Jim Nill ultimately declined to get involved in the high-priced trading that you typically see at the deadline.
While dreams for Rick Nash evaporated after Boston ponied up a ransom, players with term like Mike Hoffman and Max Pacioretty became the focus of fan speculation as time went on. But much as most beat writers and national media types had suggested leading up to the deadline, the Stars stayed out of the trading game.
So that means this is your team. The Stars won’t be finding a scoring winger that isn’t already in the organization, and any issues you see with this team’s scoring and transition game are either going to be fixed with internal adjustments or endured as-is.
You don’t need me to tell you that this hurts the Stars’ chances of progressing in the playoffs this year. Sentiments are naturally going to be negative, given the Stars’ recent run of play, but ultimately, you want your GM to have a big-picture view, and I think it’s tough to justify paying what must have been a ridiculous asking price for the really valuable players. That such a rental move would be made more ridiculous by the Stars’ evident inability to compete with the best teams in the league is its own issue, and one to be addressed later, but that certainly factors into the dissatisfaction surrounding the Stars’ lack of moves today. A team that needs to improve did not improve, while other teams did. That’s not nothing.
To step back for just a second, if I have any real unhappiness around the Stars at this moment, it would be that they were unable to put themselves in a position where making a big splash on a rental was worth it to begin with. Vegas, Boston, Pittsburgh and the like can spend a first-round pick to improve their team now because they’re talking in terms of improving an already-very-real shot at the cup in exchange for a presumptive bottom-five pick in the first round. The Stars appear to agree with those who don’t see them as at least a top contender at this point, so in that context, it’s wise to abstain from paying high prices for players that only help you this season. Things have not gone as well as they might have, so far. I, for one, am glad they didn’t spend assets on, like, Patrick Maroon to try to make things better.
What ails this team is tricky, because the Stars have also done a lot of things really well this year. The Stars turned into a top defensive team in the league that finally got at least average goaltending while continuing to score at a good pace, and yet they still haven’t managed to separate themselves from the borderline playoff teams in the (admittedly tough) Western Conference. That’s frustrating, and perhaps even moreso without an easy scapegoat like 2016-17 had, like a rash of injuries, lackluster defensive play, and continually iffy goaltending. No, this year’s team is frustrating because it’s too good not to be better than they’ve been, if that’s not a totally garbled way to put it. They raised expectations while all but simultaneously failing to meet them often enough to generate some serious uneasiness.
So, here we are. These are your Stars. There are huge bright spots in this team, and the Jim Nill signing of Alexander Radulov has been perhaps one of the biggest. Now, we are faced with the lack of moves by Jim Nill at the deadline. It’s pretty understandable, but it doesn’t help the ominous feeling hanging over these last 20 games. If the Stars are going to prove that they’re ready to capitalize on the remaining prime years of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, they’ll have to do so while dancing with the ones who brung ‘em. They’ve had some really good runs this season, but they’ll need at least one more if they want to get into the playoffs with their heads held high. Or at all.