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Alternate Universe: The Dallas Stars Buy Everyone

The Stars didn’t make any trades, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have made more than a few.

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2017 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone, and the Dallas Stars emerged looking no different. General Manager Jim Nill decided to stay pat while rivals like the Winnipeg Jets and the Nashville Predators loaded up. You could argue that, given the Stars’ current playoff position, not making any moves was the right decision.

But that’s boring. You know what’s not boring? Trades. Trades are a lot of fun. So instead of sitting around and arguing about what the Stars actually did, let’s imagine a world where the Stars were active buyers, trying their best to push for the Stanley Cup this year.

We’ll take a close look at seven real-life trades and see what Dallas would have likely given up if they were the buying team, then decide if it would have been worth it. To keep things simple, we’ll try and make our version of the trade as similar as possible: if the deal was a 1st and two low-tier prospects for a rental player and a pick, that’s what ours will have.

Disclaimer: I’m no expert on prospects, especially when it comes to other teams, so my apologies if some of my player substitutions feel uneven. Do keep in mind, however, that fans tend to overvalue their own team’s players and prospects, and Stars fans are no exception.

The Trade: The New York Rangers send Michael Grabner (LW) to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for their 2018 2nd Round pick and Yegor Rykov (D)

Instead: The Dallas Stars send New York their 2018 2nd and Joseph Cecconi (D)

Justification: The Stars and Devils are in similar positions, both hovering around a Wild-Card spot with a rough path to the Conference Finals, so their 2nd round picks are about even. Cecconi is only a month older than Rykov and was drafted in a similar position (#133 in 2015 compared to #132 in 2016), so he’s about as close to a comparable prospect as you can get.

The Verdict: I’m generally not a fan of buying rentals at the deadline to begin with, but this is a deal I wouldn’t have minded. Grabner would have been a relatively cheap addition to fortify the team’s top six, and would have likely helped the Stars clinch at least a playoff spot.

Okay, that one was a nice warm up. Now, let’s jump into the bigger deals:

The Trade: The Ottawa Senators send Derrick Brassard (C), Vincent Dunn (C), and their 2018 3rd to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for their 2018 1st, their 2019 3rd, Filip Gustavsson (G), and Ian Cole (D)

Instead: The Dallas Stars send Ottawa a conditional 2018 1st, their 2019 3rd, Colton Point (G), and Dan Hamhuis (D)

Justification: First of all, we’re not going to mess with the whole “Vegas Golden Knights as a third team” thing, as that makes this a lot more complicated.

Now then, the Stars’ 1st is a lot more valuable than the Penguins’ since the former is a playoff bubble team, while the latter is a contender pushing for their third consecutive Stanley Cup. Thus, I imagine the Stars would make their 1st a conditional in case they miss the playoffs and/or win the lottery, in which case it would become a 2019 1st (or they could just send their 2019 1st unconditionally).

Ian Cole was a veteran defenseman acquired by the Senators to flip for assets (they sent him to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 3rd), so Dan Hamhuis is a logical substitution. The goalie prospect would be one of either Jake Oettinger or Colton Point, though I imagine that in the end the Stars would send Point due to the former’s draft pedigree. Of course, the Senators might prefer Pittsburgh and Gustavsson if it was Point and not Oettinger, but since the Stars’ 1st is more valuable than the Penguins’, we’ll say it balances out.

The Verdict: It depends on how you view Brassard and the Stars’ post-season potential. If you feel Brassard is a huge upgrade for the top six and makes the Stars a Cup contender this year and next (his contract expires in 2019), then it’s a solid addition. It gets even better if the team goes on to re-sign him for a decent price, giving the Stars a deep middle between Tyler Seguin, Brassard, and Radek Faksa.

That being said, a 1st is always a hefty price to pay (even late firsts, which have netted the Stars Jason Dickinson and Jake Oettinger in the past), and losing Dan Hamhuis would take a toll on the blue line. But above all, the loss of Colton Point would likely sting the most. Sure, the Stars would still have Oettinger, but parting with a young, quality goaltending prospect is always hard to stomach, and it would hurt even more if Point ended up having the better career.

The Trade: The New York Rangers send Rick Nash (RW) to the Boston Bruins in exchange for their 2018 1st, their 2019 7th, Ryan Lindgren (D), Ryan Spooner (C), and Matt Belesky (LW)

Instead: The Dallas Stars send New York a conditional 2018 1st, their 2019 7th, John Nyberg (D), Devin Shore (C), and Martin Hanzal (C)

Justification: Once again, the Stars are in a very different position than the Bruins, who are all but guaranteed a playoff spot and are viewed by many as serious Cup contenders. Thus, this 1st would likely have the same conditionals as the hypothetical Brassard trade.

If we were going by draft pedigree alone, I would swap out Ryan Lindgren for Roope Hintz, who was drafted at the same spot (#49) the year before. But people don’t seem to be high on Lindgren, so a defenseman like Nyberg or perhaps Ondrej Vala or Jakob Stenqvist seems more fitting.

Shore is younger than Spooner, but is also a RFA who is viewed as a third or fourth line scorer who could play in the top six if needed. Martin Hanzal is a salary dump like Belesky, and the Stars (like the Bruins) would likely be eating up half of his cap hit.

The Verdict: If you’re not a fan of Shore and/or Hanzal, you might look at this trade as partially addition by subtraction. Trading both would open up a permanent roster spot for either Jason Dickinson or Gemel Smith, and Nash would likely just be replaced by Valeri Nichuskin in the offseason.

But while Nash might be a decent addition to the top six for the Stars, I’m not convinced it would push them into the Western Conference Finals (though it might help them clinch a playoff spot). And at that point, the trade looks like the team gave up a 1st, Devin Shore, and a defensive prospect to offload Martin Hanzal and gain slightly better playoff odds. If it were me, I’d give this a hard pass.

The Trade: The Chicago Blackhawks send Ryan Hartman (LW) to the Nashville Predators in exchange for their 2018 1st, their 2018 4th, and Victor Edjsell (C/LW)

Instead: The Dallas Stars send Chicago a conditional 2018 1st, their 2018 4th, and Rhett Gardner (C/LW)

Justification: The 1st is conditional here for the exact same reasons as the previous two trades. Gardner is similar in both size and age to Edjsell, though you could easily argue for a different forward prospect or even a defenseman like Gavin Bayreuther instead.

The Verdict: Hartman is young and a RFA, so he wouldn’t be a simple rental. However, I also feel he wouldn’t be a top six forward for the Stars (especially with Valeri Nichuskin coming back next season), and I don’t see why the team would trade a 1st for yet another bottom six forward.

The Trade: The St. Louis Blues send Paul Stastny (C) to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a conditional 2018 1st, a conditional 2020 4th, and Erik Foley (LW)

Instead: The Dallas Stars send St. Louis a conditional 2018 first, a conditional 2020 4th, and Frederik Karlström (C)

Justification: Finally, we get a trade involving a 1st that is already conditional. The Jets’ pick is lottery-protected (which is surprising given they’re in the running for the President’s Trophy), so we could expect about the same for the Stars’ conditional. Karlström is about the same age and draft pedigree (former 3rd) as Foley but has had a rough year in the SHL, so the Blues might command a prospect who’s put up better production, such as Brett Davis.

The Verdict: I’d argue Stastny would be a better addition than someone like Rick Nash if the Stars were trying to make a push for the Cup, but it puts the team in a similar position if they don’t make a deep run and Stastny walks. This feels like a move for a team that is already a contender, and that’s not Dallas (not to mention Stastny might not have waived his NMC in this case).

The Trade: The Buffalo Sabres send Evander Kane to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a conditional 2019 1st, a conditional 2019 4th, and Daniel O’Regan (C)

Instead: The Dallas Stars send Buffalo a conditional 2019 1st, a conditional 2020 4th, and Gemel Smith (C)

Justification: The draft picks would have the exact same conditionals in our scenario: the 1st becomes a 2nd if Kane doesn’t re-sign, and the 4th becomes a 2020 3rd if the Sharks/Stars decide they want to use the 4th (I have a hard time imagining why they would, but that’s just me).

Gemel Smith is similar to O’Regan in both position, age, and experience. While O’Regan has bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL, Smith has stayed in the NHL, but mostly as a healthy scratch.

The Verdict: As I said before, I’m not a fan of rentals at the trade deadline, but I actually kind of wish the Stars had made this one. Kane was considered by many to be the best rental winger on the market, and comes at a relatively cheap cost.

Plus, if Kane fit well with the team and didn’t command too much of a price, the Stars could choose to extend him. It would cost them a 1st, but it would be in 2019, which means that A) the team would still have their 1st when hosting the draft and B) the pick would likely be higher than this year’s (assuming the team took a step forward, not back).

The kicker, of course, is that Evander Kane is a rather divisive player with off-ice issues, and that alone would likely make many fans unhappy. But then again, both Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov came to Dallas with fans questioning their character, and those moves seem to have worked out alright.

Okay, time for our final trade breakdown, and boy is it a big one:

The Trade: The New York Rangers send Ryan McDouagh (D) and J.T. Miller (C/RW) to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for their 2018 1st, a conditional 2019 2nd, Vladislav Namestnikov (C), Brett Howden (C), and Libor Hajek (D)

Instead: The Dallas Stars send New York a conditional 2018 1st, a conditional 2019 2nd, Radek Faksa (C), Riley Tufte (LW), and Roope Hintz (C)

Justification: As usual, Tampa Bay is in a much different playoff situation than Dallas, so we’d likely see the Stars’ 1st with protection in case of a lottery win and/or playoff miss. The conditional 2nd would likely stay the same (it becomes a 1st if the Lightning/Stars win the Cup this year or next), but the two picks’ conditions would have to be tweaked slightly so that they can’t both convert to 2019 1st rounders.

You might not like it, but Radek Faksa is our best comparable player to Vladislav Namestnikov: they are similarly aged and are both having breakout years, though Faksa has the advantage of already being under contract for next season. I could also see Faksa being replaced with Mattias Janmark (also having a breakout year) or Valeri Nichuskin (younger with arguably a higher ceiling).

Riley Tufte and Brett Howden were picked only two spots apart and have similar potentials in my opinion, so they’re an easy swap. Like Ryan Lindgren in the proposed Rick Nash trade, Libor Hajek is a hard prospect to find a match for in the Dallas pipeline, so we’ll go with Roope Hintz as another former 2nd rounder with a solid upside.

The Verdict: The move would definitely make a huge splash, but this trade wouldn’t make much sense from a Stars perspective. The team would be further crowding their blue line (albeit with a great addition in McDonaugh) and giving up arguably their best 2-way forward in Radek Faksa, plus a collection of potential 1st rounders and quality prospects.

If Miller and Faksa were taken out and a defensemen like Stephen Johns, Esa Lindell, or Julius Honka was going the other way instead of one or more of the picks/prospects, I could wrap my head around the deal. But even then I wouldn’t like it, and probably wouldn’t care for any other potential trade for McDonaugh. So in my eyes, this would be a definite no-go.

There were obviously many more trades around the deadline that the Stars could have made, but these were the ones that captured everyone’s attention, the types of deals that made fans wonder, “Man, why couldn’t the Stars get that guy?”

But when you break it down, given the Stars’ playoff position and what they would likely be giving up, Dallas would have been overpaying for most of these players. And as with most deadline deals, if you don’t end up lifting the Stanley Cup in the end (or at least getting close), you’re probably going to regret it.

So sure, you can be upset that Jim Nill and the Stars weren’t buyers and didn’t make a last minute trade acquisition. But understand that the team would be paying a steep price, and it’s for that reason that Dallas stayed quiet on deadline day.