For Stars fans, players, and personnel alike, the off-season began just over a month ago. As soon as the Stars were knocked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Anaheim Ducks, GM Jim Nill went back to the drawing board. He analyzed his team from all angles in an attempt to find what will make them a better team in the coming season. As we have learned over the past couple of weeks, Nill has identified the need for a second-line centre. He is looking for a player through trade or free agency, who can deliver a secondary scoring punch out of the second line centre position.
The second line centre position is currently held by 23-year old Cody Eakin. Eakin did an admirable job last season, but his skill set is geared more towards a third line player. Eakin contributed 35 points in 81 games while being a trusted faceoff man. On too many occasions last season, Eakin was burdened with the assignment of shutting down the other team’s best players, while still expected to put up points. If the Stars could find a more offensive-minded second line centre, Eakin would be able to slip down into a more natural third line position.
In a very unlikely turn of events, it appears that the 2014 pool of potentially available centres has grown substantially. Coming into the season, it was believed that Colorado Avalanche centre, Paul Stastny, was going to be the only high-profile centreman on the market. Stastny has recently been joined by the likes of Ottawa Senators Jason Spezza, San Jose Sharks Joe Thornton, Los Angeles Kings Mike Richards, and former Dallas Star Brad Richards.
In my opinion, I think that Jason Spezza would fit the Stars bill the best. He’s a young superstar with great speed, soft hands, and a laser of a shot. Sound familiar?
Spezza has all the same tools as Stars current centre Tyler Seguin. Spezza is entering the last season of his contract that will pay him just over 7 million. Spezza’s willingness to sign a long-term extension may be the deciding factor in Jim Nill’s decision making process of whether he will pursue the Ottawa Senators captain.
Spezza has eclipsed the 90 point mark, he has been to the Stanley Cup Finals, he has been the captain of an NHL club, and he won’t come cheap.
So, GM Jim Nill has a decision to make, who is he willing to part with if Spezza is willing to come to Big D?
When you look back at the history of NHL trades, you will find that if one team is to acquire a superstar, they often have to give up a potential superstar in return. It only makes sense; you have to give quality, to get quality. If the Dallas Stars are to acquire Spezza, or another big name centre, who will they most likely have to give up in return?
Alex Chiasson is likely the answer. Chiasson is a promising 23 year old right winger. When Chiasson debuted at the end of the 2013 season, he scored six goals in his first seven games. He continued that hot streak into the 2014 season as he scored eight goals in his first nine games. Chiasson gained considerable trust from the coaching staff as the season wore on. He was given regular, first team powerplay minutes, while being matched up against the opponent’s best players. Chiasson also showed his versatility in the faceoff circle as he was trusted to take more faceoffs as the season went on.
If Chiasson was to leave the Stars organization in order to bring in a big name centre, the Stars believe they have his replacement waiting in the wings. Texas Stars forward, Brett Ritchie, plays a very similar role as Chiasson. He is a big body, with the ability to score goals in bunches. The only concern I have with putting all the trust in Ritchie’s ability to replace Chiasson, is Ritchie has yet to prove his worth in the NHL. The Stars have seen first-hand what they have with Chiasson at the NHL level. Ritchie is yet to make his debut in the NHL, which automatically raises a lot of questions about his ability to replicate Chiasson’s success so far.
Furthermore, Chiasson seemed to find a real niche playing with Benn and Seguin during brief stints in the 2014 playoffs. While Benn and Seguin will be regarded as one of the top duo’s in the league for seasons to come, Chiasson has the potential to join them on the top line more permanently if given the opportunity.
Personally, I would hate to see the Dallas Stars trade a homegrown player like Chiasson. The Stars drafted him, watched him develop in the AHL, and are now seeing what he can do in the NHL.
However, when you attempt to acquire a talented young player like Jason Spezza, you will assuredly be asked to give up something major in return. Is that major piece in return going to be Chiasson? Or should the Stars consider trading one of their top prospects, Oleksiak or Ritchie instead?
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