Mats Zuccarello made a big difference for the Dallas Stars during the playoffs. He fought through a still-healing broken arm to do it. Fans loved his presence, and the team was better for it.
So if the Stars don’t think they can afford to keep him, could it cost even more to let him go? Sean Shapiro examines the case:
Unlike other potential suitors, the Stars and Zuccarello know that they fit well together after his 15-game cameo. Zuccarello fits with this locker room, fits with this scheme and fits with a coaching staff that was enamored with his play-making. The case to keep him begins with visual proof of how he made Dallas better and what they’d have to do if he’s no longer around.
“Either they go and re-sign Zuccarello, or they have to go out and find another legitimate top-six (forward). On a bad year, a guy is a 40-point guy. In a good year, he’s a 70-point guy,” an NHL scout said. “You saw the way (Tyler) Seguin and (Jamie) Benn played in that Nashville series, they were beasts. But I think a lot of it had to do with Zuccarello and (Roope) Hintz and (Jason) Dickinson saying, ‘Hey, we are going to produce, too.’ You could almost see a sense of relief in Jamie Benn’s game, like, ‘Oh fuck, thank god, I finally got some help.’”
The big obstacle is age – Zuccarello will be 32 years old when training camp starts. The bigger obstacle is the first-round pick the Stars will lose if they re-sign him. But both challenges may be smaller to the front office than they appear to fans:
“I don’t think there’s as much of a risk for a dropoff in his game like there was with Spezza,” another NHL scout said. “If you signed him to a four- or five-year deal, that final year might see points drop a bit, but I think he plays the game in a way that you’ll always need. Roope Hintz is going to need a winger who knows how to unlock him with speed. And Zucc is smart enough to understand how he needs to best fit in this game as roles change with age.”
Unlike the Radulov deal, Zuccarello’s contract would also cost Dallas that aforementioned first-round pick. It’s something Nill didn’t discuss in depth publicly, but based on his comments and talking to others, it feels like that asset won’t cause too much consternation.
There’s more behind the paywall. [The Athletic DFW]
Friend of DBD Josh Lile has written his own stats-informed take on the Zuccarello situation for The Dallas Morning News.
Radek Faksa played hockey later into May than any other Star. To celebrate, Mike Heika rolls out a 5 Things post, plus this photo of Fox with his mom.
Around The League(s)
What do you have to do to draw a suspension in a Stanley Cup Final series? Oskar Sundqvist did this. Maybe the NHL is taking head shots seriously this week or something.
St. Louis forward elbowed Bruins defenceman Grzelcyk in the head in Game 2 https://t.co/Qw4S1wkWOh— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) May 31, 2019
Defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is looking for a fresh start, and the Toronto Maple Leafs will try to help.
The 2019 NHL Draft is bursting with U.S.-born talent. ESPN’s Chris Peters takes a look at the deep American bench.
The upcoming NHL Draft will have a heavy American influence. Some believe the 2001 birth year could be one of the best the U.S. has ever produced. Combined with the Auston Matthews-led 1997-born class, USA Hockey may be entering a new golden age of talent https://t.co/DEwWaYaa1v— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) May 30, 2019
I’ll just leave this here as your daily Miro Heiskanen / Roope Hintz affirmation.
Top 10 #NHL rookies (and ties): Playoff points— The Hockey News (@TheHockeyNews) May 30, 2019
Foegele CAR 9
Hintz DAL 8
Thomas STL 6 (photo)
Makar COL 6
Svechnikov CAR 5
Toews NYI 5
Clifton BOS 4
Heiskanen DAL 4
Johnsson TOR 4
Blais STL 3
Andersson CGY 3
Cernak TB 3
Texier CLB 3 pic.twitter.com/EBhwUcC5HW
You love Tyler Seguin, and the camera does, too. Which Segs is your favorite?