Four years ago, the Dallas Stars were shaking hands with the Detroit Red Wings and with their heads hung, watched as Nicklas Lidstrom hovered over the Clarence Campbell trophy awarded to the champions of the Western Conference. He, like most captains, chose not to lift the trophy, knowing there was a greater prize just four wins away. In the mean time, the Stars would begin the longest playoff drought since moving to Texas. Newly aquired, Brad Richards, would begin setting himself up for a substantial payday once his contract was up at the end of the 2010-2011 campaign. Richards, aquired moments before the trade deadline expired, was also the last time the Stars made a trade of any kind, let alone of significance.
This year will differ greatly to the years that followed the 2007-2008 season. The biggest difference of course, is the finalization of the sale of the team to Tom Gaglardi. In the previous three seasons, it was the creditors and the league “running” the team, and neither of them had a vested interest in adding large pieces to a team that was financially sinking. In addition, the Stars actually have some pieces that could be “expendable” to warrant a team either on the brink of the eighth spot or a team that is so far gone, they’ll start building for next year, to pick up the phone and call Dallas. Being two months out from the trade deadline (a full month earlier than previous years), I thought it would be fun to speculate (yes, I purposefully wanted to emphasize “speculate”) what may transpire in the next 60 days.
I thought that we could look at what the Stars have to entice some interest from other teams to pick up the phone. First of all, from the list, you can scratch off Jamie Benn, Alex Goligoski and Philip Larsen. Rest assured, Stars GM, Joe Nieuwendyk will make signing these three a top priority prior to July 1st. From there, look to a possible extention to Kari Lehtonen, who’s a UFA at the end of next season (league’s CBA status to dictate anything beyond the 2012-2013 season). As for who the Stars may look to move, this is where the fun begins. First on my list would be Mike Riberio. He’s the highest paid player on the team and his worth, in my eyes is perhaps a third of what he’s being paid. That’s not to say I dislike Ribs and that I don’t think he brings anything to the table, but he’s unrestricted at the end of next season, and he’s going to look for that one last contract to take him into retirement. Michael Ryder is someone that I just recently started mentioning in regards to trade possibilities. Also an UFA at the end of next year will be looking for a big pay day, and he’s starting to heat up at the perfect time, just when teams like Columbus Blue Jackets, who are in desperate need to dump the contract of Rick Nash, may be interested in someone of Ryder’s ability, all the while, shaving $2-2.5 million a year off a contract. Adam Pardy has been very non-existent in terms of on-ice presence this season, which makes me think in order to get any kind of return, Pardy would have to be packaged with a Jake Dowell or even Adam Burish, who’s in the last year of his contract.
Now, on the flip side of the coin, who would the Stars want to make a significant push for? Well, as stated before, Columbus would love nothing more than to be rid of Rick Nash’s $7.8 million contract that has him tied up through the end of 2018. That’s a substantial amount of cash, but it was 8-10 years that worried the Stars about making a hard push for Brad Richards, especially when he was being pulled by his “buddies” in New York. If the Stars were to move Ribeiro that could go a long way in bringing Nash on board (Stars currently sit $16.25 million below the cap). There has been talk of possibly pursuing Nashville Predator’s captain, defenseman Shea Weber, but he is CURRENTLY a mere $300K below Rick Nash’s salary (making $1.5 million more than Mr. Norris Trophy, Lidstrom). It boggles my mind a d-man getting paid nearly $10 million a year. My big hang up with going after Weber at the deadline is that he’s a restricted FA, which means we would have to give up substantial draft picks to the Preds, and GM Joe values his picks.
I personally would like to see a move for Detroit blue-liner, Mike Commodore. I said last summer that I wanted the Stars to sign him as they needed a big-bodied, crease clearing defenseman. This of course was before the Sheldon Souray signing, however, it looks like both Souray and his counterpart, Stephane Robidas will be missing at minimum the remaining games on this homestand with foot injuries. But, this is just one person’s point of view. I’d like to see an open discussion about what YOU think. Tom Gaglardi is on the phone…you’re the GM…GO!