Scouting the Dallas Stars: Who Might Be Trade Bait This Offseason - Part 2
The Stars have a very full roster even before signing any potential free agents, which means the trading block is likely where they will try and make a splash. What current players might the team dangle as bait, and what type of return would they bring?
There is a degree of uncertainty around the Dallas Stars organization. It was a disappointing year having missed the playoffs in a year that was supposed to be a coming out party for Benn & Co. While the simplest fix for the team may be another year of development, management claims to be pursuing a trade.
Who is available to be traded? What kind of return can Stars' fans expect?
Part 1 of the trade value series can be found here.
Cody Eakin was drafted in the third round of the 2009 NHL Draft by the Washington Capitals. At one point, he was considered to be one of the finest prospects in the Capitals' cupboard. In 2012, Eakin was traded to Dallas in a package to acquire Mike Ribeiro. Having just finished his third season in Dallas and his fourth season in the NHL, Eakin has improved in nearly every statistical category year over year. He finished the 2014-2015 campaign with a career high 40 points (19G and 21A), and scored the goal that locked the Art Ross in Jamie Benn's trophy case.
Expectations for the Dallas third line were high entering the 2014-2015 season. Followers of the team expected this line to become a calling card for the fast style of play the team was trying to execute. Cody Eakin, along with his wingers Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt, struggled keeping the puck out of the Stars' net. Eakin had a CF% of 50.4 with a relative adjustment of -2.6, with sheltered starts by checking line standards of 51.1 oZS%. As the year wore on, Eakin seemed to settle into his role and improved his face off percentage to 50.8%. He became a versatile player contributing to the power play and penalty kill, and at even strength he moved up and down the lineup.
While some of his luster has worn off, Eakin has yet to play his best hockey. He is very good along the boards and his speed is a skill that can't be taught. Though he has not been given many opportunities, his wrist shot is surprisingly accurate and peppy. He is a raw, versatile player and it is unclear what the Stars should do with him. In many respects he is a much better wing player than he is a center. While he isn't a talent likely to tear your heart out after trading him away, he will be a valuable piece to a contender before he hangs up his skates.
Perhaps the most intriguing of the Stars' trade pieces, Eakin provides for some heated discussion. He is only 24 years old and clearly has some unexplored potential. Is his return worth losing a player like him? Comparing him to Valeri Nichushkin, the variance between his actual production and his potential is not massive. The downside to trading a player like Nuke is he could be a Hart Trophy winner, or a complete bust. Trading Eakin does not strike the same fear in management, as his future will likely fall in a very small window. For that reason, he does have value as a known quantity.
Three years ago he was packaged with a 2nd round pick to acquire a productive veteran, and today his value has only slightly appreciated. He is unlikely to be a centerpiece of a major transaction, but would be a nice piece for a team looking to rebuild. Every championship team has a more refined version of #20 on their roster, but is he ready to be that piece in Dallas?
Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 213 pounds as a 21 (almost 22) year old monster, Ritchie broke into the Stars' roster during the 2014-2015 season. Built like a block of granite, he was featured on the Dallas powerplay throughout the middle of the year and contributed valuable minutes at even strength. The OHL product averaged 13:59 ATOI in his 31 games with the NHL club.
He started his NHL career with a bang scoring 2 goals and adding an assist in his first two games. Soon after, he was promoted to riding shotgun with Benn and Seguin. Not surprisingly, he struggled to keep up with the dynamic duo and settled into a fourth line role. Because of an injury (Moen) and a short suspension (Eakin), Ritchie was partnered with Shawn Horcoff and Curtis McKenzie. It was a match made in heaven. Horcoff took the two rookies under his wing and nurtured them into the wrecking balls they became down the stretch of the regular season.
As Josh detailed in a piece a few week ago, Ritchie was one of better defensive forwards on the team. A portion of his apparent effectiveness was attributable to his sheltered zone starts. However, it was hard to not notice how stinking hard it was for opponents to clear the zone when 25-10-11 hemmed them in. Ritchie does not have elite speed, but his skating has clearly improved and his heavy frame will prove valuable to the Stars' forward lines.
Brett Ritchie is strong on his skates, retrieves rebounds, and has buttery hands in tight; all of this only a year after having his first legal beverage. His floor at this point appears to be a nasty cycle forward, and his ceiling is Corey Perry. Ritchie will be the second request of most potential trade partners (after they get laughed at for asking about Nuke), and could headline a trade for a productive defenseman. He is more tradable than Nichushkin, but only just. Nill will have to decide if he wants to stay the course with the young Ritchie, or if he feels his value would be better suited in a trade. Only time will tell, but methinks he will be in Victory Green next season.
12th overall selection, 2015 NHL Draft
These days it is difficult to judge how NHL General Managers value draft picks. To the untrained eye, draft picks seem like they would be incredibly valuable. However, every season, someone trades one or two first round picks for 3 months of Keith Yandle, Antoine Vermette, or Braydon Coburn. 2015 is a deep draft with talent littered throughout the first round, and the 12th pick stands to have some excellent options.
Do the Stars trade the pick?
During his 19 year tenure in Detroit, Jim Nill only drafted in the first round 10 times. While these decisions fell to Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, you can bet Nill was a part of these decisions. Does this mean that the Stars' general manager feels first round picks are over valued, or is this purely a coincidence? That is not a question that can be answered with any confidence. One thing is for sure, he won't be hanging up on anyone calling about the 12th overall pick. Packaged with Trevor Daley, Cody Eakin, or both, this pick could bring back a haul.
Personally, I would rather take Zach Werenski and be done with it.
All images courtesy of USA Today Sports