Stars Stay Quiet At Deadline; Will It Pay Off?

Photo: Andy Jacobsohn/The Dallas Morning News

By Mike Gambill

This past week’s NHL trade deadline on February 24th has come and past and many teams made frantic trades in order to make a playoff push or create a fire sale at the end of a disappointing season. For the Dallas Stars, the noise coming from the trade deadline was more like the sound of crickets than the sound of wheeling and dealing for players. For GM Jim Nill, the trade deadline merely was another Monday at the end of February as literally no Stars were traded by the deadline of 3pm last Monday.

Most NHL teams chose to make trade moves before the deadline in order to strengthen their playoff runs or simply to lighten their salary caps and free up cash to pursue unrestricted free agents. For the Stars, the only viable move was a trade of AHL Texas Stars blueliner Emil Djuse to the Florida Panthers for a 6th round pick in the upcoming 2020 Draft. Nill commented on the Djuse trade as a chance for more prospects to move up in the Stars organization:

“He is a little bit older player, a free agent that we signed. Don’t know is he’s coming back or not next year, so this gave us a chance to grab an asset,” Nill said of Djuse, who came to Dallas from the Swedish Elite League on a one-year, entry-level contract last April and is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason.

Jim Nill, quoted on 2/25/20

No other serious offers were tendered nor were serious offers floated around for players on the Stars roster. While there were reports floating around that GM Jim Nill targeted Joe Thornton, the venerable 40-year-old center from the San Jose Sharks, nothing materialized in that potential trade. The Sharks did make one major trade and moved Patrick Marleau over to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Why did Jim Nill pass on making any major (or minor for that matter) trade deals? Maybe there is confidence in the Stars organization that the pieces are together and ready to make a deep Stanley Cup playoff run, possibly to the Finals. Taylor Fedun is back in the lineup after a conditioning stint with the AHL’s Texas Stars. Nill must see value in his aging veteran lineup and feels that this is the year of the Stars. Stars’ leaders such as Jamie Benn is 30, while Alexander Radulov is 33 and the Stars’ anchor in the form of Joe Pavelski is 35. The average age of players on the Stars roster is 28.4 years which is one of the oldest in the NHL. One of the top netminders in the hockey business resides in Dallas as Ben Bishop is at the top of his game and continues to be one of the great goalies in the NHL. The combination of experienced veterans with a strong goalie can easily lead to a long playoff push or fizzle out quickly and the Stars are sent home in the first round.

Another more likely scenario for the Stars passing on most trade moves last week lies in the over reliance on making trades by using up trade picks in future drafts. This tactic, while appealing at first, burns up potentially great prospects and forces Jim Nill to continue looking for replacement players while losing out on growing the future of the Stars organization from the ground up.

The Dallas Stars are betting the proverbial farm that experience and strength in goaltending will carry them far into this year’s playoffs. If this strategy works, Jim Nill will be looked on as a genius GM who got “it right” this year. If this strategy backfires, the Stars could be the biggest traders willing to make wholesale deals this coming offseason.

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March 4th, 2020


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