Much to the praise of the Stars fans, Dallas today announced that they traded away Fabian Brunnstrom. There was cheering in the streets, clapping of hands, and overall celebrating. Or that could have been myself. Either way, Fabian is gone. The Stars moved him to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Mikhail Stefanovich.
You might wonder who that is. All you need to know is he is a young forward in place of Brunnstrom. Mikhail is currently playing in the KHL in Russia, and was a 4th round pick by the Leafs in 2008. He is a good sized winger at 6’2″ and over 200 pounds, but what he can be is still up in the air. While most scouts agree that he has good hockey sense and offensive instincts, along with a good wrist shot, there are also reports of some issues. He has lacked physical play and willingness to play physical despite his size, his skating has been called subpar, and like most young forwards he could use some defensive work. He did get an invite to the Leafs camp this season, but did not make the roster and then immediately dropped down to the ECHL after only a couple of games at the AHL level before going over to the KHL.
The big part of this deal is not the addition of Stefanovich (although he could be a nice chip or AHL player in a year or two), but the departure of Fabian and his contract. He came in as a valued young free agent in 2008, had a great rookie season, but then it was downhill. The inability to adjust fully, the defensive struggles, and then him fighting the issue of going down to the AHL. He could have really used going down to get more playing time and time to learn, but he was against it. The Stars this summer tried to resign him, but he fought a two way contract and wanted to stay at the NHL level. Well after more struggles and the Stars having plenty of forwards, Dallas did place him on waivers and he cleared. While his play has improved with the Texas Stars, he is set to be a free agent after this season again and what could happen from there was anyone’s guess. Dallas no longer really needs him, he has been a disappointment, and he could just choose to go back to Europe or maybe seek more money in the KHL.
With this, Dallas cleared out his $675K salary and got back a player to boot. It helps after taking on about $1.4-1.5 million from the Langenbrunner trade and the Stars at least get something back for him, while he will get a new chance in Toronto. I have been hoping the Stars would have traded him for about a year now, and they could have gotten more in the past. But for a failed minor experiment, the Stars come out of it in good shape and this is another great move by GM Joe Nieuwendyk. Maybe Fabian uses his fresh start, but either way I am happy with the Stars move.