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Scouting the Dallas Stars: Who Might Be Trade Bait This Offseason – Part 1

In the 2015 NHL Draft the Dallas Stars will have six picks, with their first selection coming 12th overall. There will continue to be great discussion around this pick, with every person having an opinion on who should be selected.

For the most part Dallas has struggled to hit home runs in the first round and general manager Jim Nill hopes to buck the trend this year. Twelfth overall is a great place to sit in this deep draft, and Stars fans should be excited about the possibilities.

The Stars have made it known that they intend to work the trade market more than the free agency this offseason to tinker with the roster. There are several current Stars that will be available, and draft day is a good time to get in on the action.

Nuke Skating

Valeri Nichushkin

The Russian has “two” years of experience at the NHL at the tender age of 20. After being drafted 10th overall in 2013, Nuke has 35 points in 87 career games in Dallas. Entering the 2013 draft, Nichushkin was commonly touted as the most skilled player with arguably the highest ceiling of any in his class. Good fortune and a fear of the KHL caused him to fall to the grateful Jim Nill at the 10th pick.

Nichushkin is a raw talent with an affinity for turnovers. By in large, he has not adjusted to the speed of the game and coughed the puck up often during his first years in Dallas. However, there are flashes that make your mouth water. He appeared to be ready to make a leap last season but was only able to play in eight games.

The giant, smooth-skating Nichushkin has all of the tools to become a superstar in the NHL; he just needs time to simmer. Common belief says this guy is the truth, and his trade value is among the highest on the team.

Nuke TV

With so much potential, a trade including Nichushkin (likely in a package) should bring a high return. He would be involved in a deal bringing a Brent Seabrook, Seth Jones, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, or Johnny Oduya Tyler Myers type of player. While it is unlikely Jim Nill would part with such a prize, it isn’t impossible. Make no mistake, a trade of this magnitude would make headlines, especially if it were within the division.

Trevor Daley

The longest tenured Star has been rumored to be on the block for years. In 2014-2015, Daley set career highs in goals (16), assists (22), and ATOI (22:53). However, his moribund possession statistics have caused an uprising for his departure.

Daley has two more years on his existing contract with a cap hit of $3.3 million per season. At age 32 starting next season, he is not a young man but is far from finished as an NHL player. The security of a second contract year will be a selling point for teams looking to bolster an offensively stagnant blue line, but a detriment to those looking to clear cap space.

If the market for Daley is a rental, the Stars likely won’t be able to move him until next offseason or the 2017 trade deadline. If a team views him as a viable top-4 defenseman at a reasonable price tag, he could be moved as soon as the 2015 NHL Draft.

Daley TV

Having likely played his best hockey, there is not much perceivable upside to his production. Trevor Daley is what he is: A fleet footed offensive threat and defensive liability.

Paired with the right guy, Daley can still be a useful NHL defenseman. While he likely won’t bring a tidal wave of talent back to the Stars, a second-round pick is not out of the question. We have seen useful but not spectacular players involved in larger deals, but in a vacuum Daley’s value is nothing to write home about. His splash factor only exists because the Defending Big D comment boards would literally explode.

Ryan Garbutt

Like Daley, Ryan Garbutt gets thrown under the bus. Justified or not, his absent-minded penalties seem to stick out like a Kardashian booty. Having signed an extension last offseason, Garbutt is on the Stars’ books for two more years carrying a cap hit of $1.8 million per season.

Expectations were that Garbutt would build on his 2013-2014 campaign; during which he tallied 32 points on one of the most exciting third lines in hockey. As the 2014-2015 season grew older, the Holy Trinity/Pit Bulls/Three Stooges never fulfilled lofty expectations. Garbutt was named the Peter Pan of the group: the guy that just would not grow up.

Garbutt Empty Net

Some of the criticism was unfair, as Garbutt had half as many PIMs last year (55) as he did during his breakout season (106). The advanced stats tell us that Garbutt was a negative Corsi player in 2014-2015, but his Fenwick For Percentage was 51.4% with a dZS% of 51.6%. All is not lost for Garbutt, but a mental reset in Dallas or a scenery reset elsewhere will be required.

Garbutt TV

Approaching 30, he is running out of time to get noticeably better. His ceiling is likely an electric third liner and an above-average penalty killer.

Unfortunately for the Stars there just isn’t a big market for guys that hustle and sort of kill penalties. His cap hit is relatively small, so a team trying to maximize minimal cap space could come knocking (Blackhawks, Bruins, Rangers, Kings). It is not a foregone conclusion that he will be traded this offseason, but he could serve as a nice sweetener in the trade management claims to be pursuing.

*Check back Tuesday for Part 2 of this series

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