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On The Stars Selling John Tavares On Jim Nill’s Vision Today, And Contemplating Tyler Seguin’s Tomorrow

Why you shouldn’t be disappointed if he goes elsewhere and what it means to be in the conversation at all. Plus, we look at Tyler Seguin’s future in Dallas a bit too.

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2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Today, the Dallas Stars management team will try to sell the direction and benefits of playing for their club to the biggest free agent center to test free agency in many seasons.

John Tavares has already heard pitches from the New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks, Boston Bruins, and Toronto Maple Leafs. Today, the Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning make their cases to lure Tavares away from Long Island. Chris Johnston reported yesterday that these are the six teams that will be included in Tavares’ free agency process, meaning that it’s unlikely another team comes in as a black horse out of nowhere. (Though, it’s good to remind everyone that nothing is set in stone until a contract is signed and filed with the NHL. That probably won’t keep rumors from going rampant, but here’s hoping anyway.)

There have been many pieces written about how the Stars can afford to give Tavares his market rate contract, if they should make the push to sign him at all, and how he would impact his new team.

But honestly, it’s exciting for Dallas to even be considered a destination for a top flight center like Tavares. Other than the Islanders, Dallas is the only team on the list that did not make the playoffs last season. There is likely a combination of things that play in Dallas’ favor and why they ended up on Tavares’ list:

  • Dallas is widely considered among many players to be a great town to live in and raise a family in. (A number of them have made this their home after retirement, too.)
  • You can lead a relatively anonymous life (just ask Tyler Seguin how often his evenings out even register as news in Dallas, we’ll wait.)
  • They have an attractive core around the same age as Tavares (Jamie Benn, Seguin, Alexander Radulov, John Klingberg), of which most are locked up for the next 4+ seasons. That gives them a Cup winning window in alignment with Tavares’ prime years.
  • Ownership has shown they are willing to spend the money on the roster when it makes sense to do so.
  • General manager Jim Nill is very well respected in the league.

Would it be great to watch the collective hockey world descend into chaos when beloved Canadian son and premier free agent signs in the “non-traditional” market of Dallas? You better believe it. Do I expect that to actually happen? Probably not. But it’s a fun dream for Stars fans to even have the chance to dream.

The good news is that Dallas has their first line center already. Tavares isn’t the one piece missing from this lineup that is arguably the hardest to acquire (outside of waiting years to develop from within). He would add dimension to the top six and give new coach Jim Montgomery so many options in the attack. Yes, adding Tavares is a positive. But the team isn’t completely hamstrung if they don’t sign him, either.

It also signals that Dallas is considered a destination for premier free agents. That also likely means they’re a destination that guys with no trade clauses would consider waiving to go to. So even if Nill doesn’t land this particular guy, he might get the chance to land someone else that can positively impact the roster in a different way.

At this time of year, the hope and optimism that stems from this whole Tavares watch bleeds through the offseason process, and makes it exciting for Stars fans to see what Dallas will look like next season.

That’s a win in and of itself.

Let’s Address Tyler Seguin’s Future In Dallas

Last night, as the Twitter timeline scrolled by, a particular tweet stood out to me:

After my visceral reaction, I took the night to think about it, and I’ve come to the same conclusion: I don’t believe it for a second.

First of all, Nill rarely signals his intentions in trades days/weeks before making the move (it’s more like within an hour, based on my experience in following the Stars rumors in the media.)

Secondly, I know that a lot of teams are going to want to evaluate the trade market for center help. Seeing a team with two legitimate first line centers is an obvious target to try to pry one away in trade for those that need help at that position. But wishful thinking and due diligence research are far from enough to speculate on Seguin’s availability.

Lastly, what purpose would trading Seguin have if Nill does manage to sign Tavares? Trading away center depth that would allow Dallas to be more than a single line supernova offensive threat seems redundant. Surely part of the sales pitch to Tavares is the idea that you’ll play with some of the most talented in the league today (Seguin, Benn, Radulov, Klingberg, etc) while also giving Tavares the opportunity to no longer have to be one of the only ones dragging the ship through the channel. Seguin and Tavares can tug the boat equally, and give opponents the option of which one they’re going to shut down — and which one might run all over them any given night.

Keeping Seguin has long been Nill’s objective. It seems both sides agree that it’d be better to have the deal done prior to the start of the season. After watching Steven Stamkos get the “will he or won’t he” treatment for over a year, Dallas and Seguin likely just want to put it all to bed early so the focus can be on taking this team into the playoffs this year.

If acquiring Tavares somehow causes Seguin to rethink his role in Dallas’ future, and therefore unlikely to sign a contract extension, then I can see Nill shopping Seguin for a good return of assets prior to him walking for free next summer. However, from what I’ve observed of Seguin through his interactions with us in the local media, his post game interviews, and his charity work in the community, I don’t see this as his automatic reaction to the Tavares news.

Seguin wants to win more than anything. Nill has done what he can to set up the roster for success in terms of the cap, so the money will be there for his own new contract. If they have a legitimate chance at winning a Stanley Cup with the core that Nill has built in Dallas, would Seguin leave? It’s possible. But for a player that has done nothing but adapt, play various roles in the lineup that often did not include first line center duties, and grow his game since coming to the Stars, this person’s opinion is that it may not be as likely as some outside of Dallas think — or hope.