With Chicago Adding Ladd, Central Teams like Dallas Must Ponder the Arms Race
The Chicago Blackhawks have added Andrew Ladd, Dale Weise, and everyone else ranging from decent to very good on the market. The Central Division is the best in hockey. At what point must Dallas compete in order to capitalize on Benn, Seguin, and Klingberg's prime years?
The defending Stanley Cup champs just added Andrew Ladd. Then they added Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann from the Montreal Canadiens for Phillip Danault and 2018 2nd round pick. And somewhere along the way, they traded Rob Scuderi for Christian Ehrhoff.
If you're interested in a nuanced take on how Dallas must manage their assets, and stay patient with a core group still learning on the job, then Wes' excellent take is that way.
This room is for the cynical. This is for the people that believe a powerful point hammered over the head indelicately is better than a powerful point whispered into the ear sympathetically.
This is where we come to argue for preemptive strikes, and weapons of mass puck seduction.
Because let's face it. Right now Dallas is a team that employs the best offense in the league. Five players are beyond the 40 point mark, and three are over the 20 goal hump. Does a team filled with Cedar Park regulars achieve the same result?
Even if you believe in Jason Dickinson as Dallas' future second line center, or Radek Faksa as Dallas' future third line center, can they replicate what Jason Spezza can for a Dallas team that also has Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin in their forward core? Or What Eric Staal could do for the current team? Whatever your thoughts on this Dallas team, this is who they are:
A lean, mean, vulacanized rubber smashing machine. And for as much as fans love to follow their prospects, not everyone will make it to the big club, and some that do will do so in another uniform. It's just the nature of the business.
Part of the argument to compete with Chicago (like getting Zdeno Chara to man the wall against Toews and Kopitar) is that being in the same division has a tangible effect on Dallas' success. Right now, Dallas has the power to force Chicago into a first round matchup with St. Louis, giving Dallas the ostensibly "easier" route towards advancement. That's a massive deal in the grand scheme of things, and a great example of how the regular season can wield peripheral power into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Every team will be looking to improve. Nashville has a blueline style to give Dallas fits. Should they acquire someone like a Loui Eriksson, or a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, an already strong team gets that much better. And St. Louis has gone out and acquired Anders Nilsson for goaltending depth.
Dallas' trump card is this; the most competitive teams that the Stars should be most worried about are clubs like Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Washington if you're feeling aggressively optimistic. What does Dallas have that they don't? Cap. What they can do with another 4 million doesn't even count whether or not they can bust a superfluous cap on someone (not looking at you Kari, I swear).
There's an importance to being frugal. You can't lose what you don't put in, after all. But you can't win much either. There's a way to spend to the cap intelligently while being aggressive, and Chicago is showing other teams just how it's done.
Losing prime assets for a rental is not what I'm advocating. But ideas for winning are peaceful. The history of winning is savage.
I advocate instead for the 'good plan today' where trading aggressively for one or two small moves at the deadline projects to amplify the big one in say, the summer, in order to confer success. Rather than the 'perfect plan tomorrow', which sees Dallas add a PK Subban type as the prospects develop just as the hockey gods intended while wearing Stanley's gumdrop smiles.