The Dallas Stars kicked off their trade deadline today as they made a move to upgrade the bottom pairing of their blueline rotation.
Connor Carrick, acquired by the Stars earlier this season from the Toronto Maple Leafs when the depths of their blueline were tested by injuries that saw the team playing 12-men deep on the depth chart, was sent to the New Jersey Devils along with a 2019 third round draft pick for veteran defenseman Ben Lovejoy. The third round pick in the deal seems like a bit of an overpayment for the unrestricted free agent Lovejoy as a rental, but it’s not an absurd overpay.
The move appears to be a marginal upgrade for the bottom pairing. Let’s look at some #fancystats for a second:
Ben Lovejoy (traded to Stars) is a decent defensive defender with great penalty-kill impacts. Connor Carrick (in return to New Jersey + a pick) is a fair bit weaker at 5v5. pic.twitter.com/jdKH22Wnw3— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 23, 2019
The Stars already have a pretty good penalty kill, but shoring up the defense in that regard isn’t a bad thing down the stretch run here. They also improved the defense at 5-on-5 compared to Carrick.
Carrick hasn’t played all that much in the past month. After returning from injury earlier this year, he never seemed to quite find the level of play that he had when he first arrived in Dallas. He slowly started to be trusted less and his usage reflected it. Carrick, a restricted free agent this summer, likely wasn’t in the long-term plans for the Stars with prospects like Gavin Bayreuther and Dillon Heatherington coming up and young players like Julius Honka still on the depth chart.
Jim Nill also likes Lovejoy’s experience, having played on the Stanley Cup winning Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016. “Getting an experienced, battle-tested player who has a track record of performing in meaningful late-season games is important for our group, and we feel that he will help balance our blueline,” said Nill.
There are two fun facts about Lovejoy that Stars fans might get a kick out of. First, his nickname is “Reverend” after The Simpsons character Reverend Lovejoy. Second, he is apparently the cousin of the aforementioned Bayreuther.