Dec 16, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Dallas Stars defenseman Kevin Connauton (23) skates with the puck against Colorado Avalanche center Marc-Andre Cliche (24) during third period at Pepsi Center. The Avalanche won 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Connauton: Dallas Stars Season Ending Report Cards

Good evening everybody! I hope everyone had a fantastic Monday (If that’s even possible).

If you’re looking for something to do with your life tonight, you can go vote on one of my many polls, or if you’ve already done that, you can watch the LA Kings and NY Rangers, as I am doing while writing this, on NBCSN. LA holds a 2-0 series lead and Game 3 is live now from MSG.

OR you can read my next report card on #23 , Kevin Connauton:

Kevin Connauton played a season mixed between the Dallas and Texas Stars. He spent most of his season helping out the Stars weak and injury-prone defense. His balanced attack was what made most in Dallas come to like the youngling.

Season recap:

When Kevin Connauton was brought into the Stars lineup on October 26th in place of an injury, many Stars fans were hoping he’d be the saving grace and answer to a weak and defenseless defense. And he did not disappoint, for the most part at least.

Connauton skated for 36 games in the regular season, mainly paired with Jordie Benn or Brenden Dillon. He netted 1 single goal in all his regular season appearances and pulled out 7 assists. His game impressed some, while some figured that he needed a few more AHL years. Whether you enjoyed his play or not (I’ll share my opinion later, don’t worry), the 24 year old must’ve been getting to the Stars back bench, because he was number 1 on their list when they needed help on the blue line. If he truly is looking to be a full time NHL starter come next year, and there is one open spot being fought for by Connauton, Nemeth, and Rome, along with whatever FA’s or acquirements the Stars snag in the offseason, he will have to prove himself to the fullest to Lindy in whatever terms he can.

Playoff recap:

Well this will be a short one. Connauton played 4 of the possible 6 postseason games for the Stars. In his playoff debut, he pulled off 0 goals along with 0 assists, a +/- of 0 and 0 shots. So, as you can see, it’s like he wasn’t even there.

Contract situation:

Connauton received an extension to his contract back on in June 2013 (that seems like an eternity ago). His new contract has him signed through the 2015-2016 season with a raise in AHL pay and drop in NHL pay (hmm, odd). His new NHL salary has him set at $600,000 for this past year, with a $50,000 increase for next season, and then finishing his last season at $800,000. His cap hit is $683,333. When his new contract expires, he will be an RFA, but let’s not worry about that right now since it’s a little ways down the road (and so I don’t have to explain RFA for the umpteenth time). His new contract is setting him up for possible AHL appearances as well as NHL appearances, which is not what some were expecting.

In my opinion:

Though Connauton has a very well balanced attack and can use his physicality when he truly has to, I don’t think he’s there just yet.

Now don’t get me wrong, he is doing much better and served a pretty good stint with the Stars in their past season, though his playoff appearance was nothing to talk about. And he has done progressively better as each season passes. But I honestly think he needs a little more time in the AHL before he is ready to be a full blown starter at the AAC.

Also, with the other competing names, especially Nemeth, who Ruff and Nill seemed to prefer as the year drew to an end. And with the Stars looking for a big name defenseman to help the struggling blue line in the season to come, there might not be a spot anymore to fill, unless the Stars trade one of their 5 starting defenseman, though Rome is still in the block and could be worth something. The only other name I could think of that the Stars would give up form their current defense is Brenden Dillon, though y’all seemed ready to pack Daley’s bags for him in the poll I put out. But we’ll have to wait until July 1st to see what happens. But Connauton could still be there for an injury spot, as he has been.

The bottom line on Kevin Connauton:

Kevin Connauton has been an injury insurance for the last season for the Stars. With his skill set, many want to see him in victory green for good next year, but there are just too many questions regarding what could happen July 1st to know how the Stars roster will end up forming out.

The Stars signed Connauton to a 3 year extension last summer, which means they have a few options with him:

They could leave him as is. He could continue his job of starting on the Texas Stars down in Austin and being at the top of the list for Lindy whenever he needs an injury substitution. This could give Connauton plenty of time on the freeze to really perfect his game and be ready to stride with the big kids down the road.

They could also call him up to Big D for good. If they feel that he’s truly ready, they can give him his own locker for good and have him suit up every game. If the organization decides to back off from looking for a big name D-man or if they trade a currently inked player on one of their Top 3 lines (i.e. Dillon, Daley, Gonchar, Goligoski, Jo. Benn) and still need a filling on the blue line, he will be there ready for his first full NHL season performance.

They could also trade him. They could look for a rebuilding team with a franchise tag defenseman and send Connauton and possibly one more prospect for one. Or they could use Connauton as one of my infamous “sweeteners” and help drag a deal to even on the block. This could clear space for a potential top 2 defenseman to finally help the Stars stop the offensive onslaught most teams put on them.

But we simply just don’t know yet. July 1-5 will help clear the air tremendously. But until then, we can only look for our own answers to these difficult questions we are posed with.

Please tell me how you feel about Connauton below, and keep doing your thing. Talk to ya later. GO STARS

 

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