Poaching in the Central Division - Who Should the Dallas Stars Target?
Jonathan Drouin and Kevin Shattenkirk are apparently on the market. That means anything goes! With the team on-break, I took a look at the Central Division and identified interesting targets from each team should GM Jim Nill get the notion to start dealing.
The league has gone completely Shatten-krazy, and our beloved Dallas Stars haven't played since Saturday. I'm jumpy. My first thought was to revisit a stack ranking of the Stars' all-time team, but then I got stuck on the proper ordering of Fabian Brunnstrom and Eric Nystrom. So instead I decided to cast my covetous glance across the rest of the Central Division.
If Kevin Shattenkirk can move, anyone can move. This is a cap league, after all. Using a keen understanding of the Stars' current team needs and an undeniable sense of whimsy, I've selected the guy on each roster that would look best in Victory Green. I solicited no opinions, because, why? One last note, I'm not just grabbing the best player, because also, why?
Nashville Predators – Craig Smith
Who do you grab from the team that just finished making a major roster move? Probably not a defenseman (sorry Ryan Ellis), and probably not last season's wunderkid (Filip Forsberg). I thought about going really crazy and picking Pekka Rinne, but the goaltending ship sort of sailed when the Stars brought in Antti Niemi.
Instead, I landed on Smith. Four years into his NHL career, the 26-year old has twice topped the 20-goal plateau. That's more than Valeri Nichushkin, Ales Hemsky, and Patrick Sharp over the same stretch. Point is, he would help. Welcome to Big D Mr. Smith.
Winnipeg Jets – Dustin Byfuglien
This is one of the easy ones. The Stars are on the verge of serious contention, but could use a little snarl on the blueline. Probably a little size as well. It would also be nice if they could meet a need without creating a trailing problem like losing a serious, rostered asset in the deal. Throw in a bevy of available defensive prospects to use as make-weights, and you don't have to imagine too hard to see a deal to be made.
Byfuglien is unrestricted after this season, and looks like a long shot to re-sign in Winnipeg. The Jets are also fading from playoff contention, which makes Big Buff more and more available each night, but that's not the best part. If things don't work out, if the fit is off, the Stars could decline to float an offer and walk away relatively unscathed.
St. Louis Blues – Jori Lehtera
Yeah, I could have gone with Shattenkirk, but he's already the thought-starter behind this piece. Instead I'll look elsewhere on the Blues' roster. What if the Stars went a slightly different direction? Lehtera is nominally the Blues' third-line center. In his first full NHL season, the now-28-year old Finn picked up 44 points and won 51 percent of his faceoffs. He's also got a little quality mass at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds.
Think of Lehtera as a bit of Fiddler insurance, or frankly, cover for the nights Cody Eakin can't quite find his groove. With a 30-assist season on his resume there's also a chance he could step up the roster in times of need.
Colorado Avalanche – Jarome Iginla
I'm not saying the guy gets a decade-long deal! Hear me out. Outside of Patrick Sharp, Tyler Seguin, and Jason Spezza, the Stars are short impact forwards with playoff experience. Even Seguin might have been too young on a loaded Bruins team to learn much about how to lead through the tough moments. Iginla has a scoring championship and a finals run on his resume. He's also right around half a point per game this season, which is useful. A burly forward with a history of offensive production and a willingness to drive the net would also give the Stars a different look on the power play.
Finally, wouldn't the symmetry be nice? No, Iginla never really played for the Stars, but it would be fun to swing by the city if only to answer a few lingering "what if" questions.
Minnesota Wild – Marco Scandella
I thought about Jared Spurgeon. I really did. He just wasn't big enough, wasn't "Not Jason Demers or Alex Goligoski" enough. I also thought about the twin-headed monsters Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, but their contracts are horrifying.
What I like is the fact Scandella has averaged almost two minutes on the penalty kill over his career. He hits, he blocks shots, and he's over both the 6-foot and 200 pounds marks. He's also steeped in a Wild tradition of dull boringness that might benefit the Go-Go-Go Stars.
Chicago Blackhawks – Marcus Kruger
The Stars (or any team in the NHL) would obviously benefit from either Duncan Keith or Brent Seabrook, but they've already helped themselves to one of the Hawks' defensive stalwarts. Enter Marcus Kruger. The Swede is a plug-and-play bottom third player in exactly the mold the Stars need to compete at the highest levels.
Honestly, anyone from Chicago's depth lines would be an interested target. All would boast a little championship pedigree and a familiarity with filling in the blanks around a pair of superstars. Bryan Bickell's potential as a blunt instrument intrigued me, but more and more I came back to the faceoff-winning Kruger.