Apr 23, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; The Dallas Stars fans cheer cheer for center Vernon Fiddler (38) after Fiddler scores a game tying goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period in game four of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Does Fiddler Signing Create A Road Block?

Good morning, Stars fans! I thought you could use an intriguing article to go along with your morning coffee.

So, yesterday Jim Nill made a decision and re-signed the veteran #38, Vernon Fiddler. Now, I’m sure a lot of you are frolicking and screaming “YIPPEE” because you love Fiddler and were scared and felt empty when he left for 32 hours, but Mr. Backhand Applesauce has returned on a two-year deal! But as soon as I saw that signing go down, a red (green?) flag went off in my brain. Now Marcus touched on the question I was pondering on in his article last night, and I’m here to dive into it.

So Fiddler is back on board! Now let’s see if you can find the problem. Be your own detective and see if you can solve the puzzle. Here’s the potential lines for the start of next season:

1st line:

Jamie Benn-Tyler Seguin-Valeri Nichushkin

2nd line:

Erik Cole-Jason Spezza-Ales Hemsky (quick note, those are really scary lines, thanks Jim)

3rd line:

Ryan Garbutt-Cody Eakin-Antoine Roussel (still scary)

4th line:

Colton Sceviour-Shawn Horcoff, Vernon Fiddler, Patrick Eaves, Travis Morin-Rich Peverley (bad type of scary here)

Did you find it?! I hope so. One of these is not like the other.

Yes the Stars now have a little TOO much center depth (everything’s bigger in Texas and Jim Nill makes sure to stick up to code). With all the new recruits, the choice is Nill’s and Ruff’s. So why would Nill pull such a STUPID move like this?

Now, let’s settle something right now; NO MOVE that Jim Nill makes is stupid. He definitely knows what he’s doing, but I only have a hypothesis of what he’s planning on doing.

Here’s my scoop. Nill re-signed Fiddler and is ready to put him at the fourth-line center spot, that I’m almost positive of, why else would he of picked him up after the plethora of centers he was faced with this morning? Now Fiddler was a day late only due to the fact that he wanted to test the free-agency waters first, and when he saw that no bites were being given, he pulled back to Nill who had promised him that they would keep in touch and it just so happened that there was a spot left for a center to fill! Or not?

So if Nill is looking to keep Fiddler with his regular duty in the dot for the fourth line, where does everyone else fall into play? A lot of talk was pinned to Travis Morin, who tallied his first NHL assist this past year at the age of 30 and had another stellar year with the Texas Stars in the AHL and became one of the prime factors in their claiming of the Calder Cup. “He’s done his time down south and he’s ready to play with the big boys” seems to be most people’s opinion on him. But with all these FA acquisitions, it seems as though Nill isn’t ready for Morin yet. Considering that in no way will we see Fiddler or Horcoff hitting the road to Austin to play in the AHL this late in their careers, it seems as though Morin is stuck like glue in Cedar Park for at least another year.

How about that one guy no one remembers we signed because of all the Spezza and Hemsky hype? Oh, I know who you’re talking about, his name was like Peter or Phil?

Well, Patrick Eaves was another pick-up by Dallas on July 1st. He plays the center position and mainly sticks to the underbelly of most teams, skating third and fourth line. So, if you even noticed through all the buying of Spezza or Hemsky jerseys (but they aren’t out yet, I’ve looked) that the Stars had acquired Eaves, your first thought would’ve gone something like, “Ah, Jim Nill picked up a guy that he used to work with in Detroit for our fourth line center, that’s awesome, now the Stars don’t have to scoop up anyone else”. Enter stage right, Vernon Fiddler. With Eaves now holding a good chunk of reliability and a spot on the ballot for fourth line dot management, what do they do with him? Maybe a flip-flop between Fiddler and Eaves every few games? Maybe have one of them serve as the healthy scratch? And with nine years spent in the NHL, I’m not sure Eaves is gonna be packing his bags for the AHL either. I’m not sure how this will pan out, but these are a few scenarios and options that Nill might be working with that I think would work best for the team.

But wait, where does Shawn Horcoff fit in??? This will be the Stars second year in their relationship with Horcoff and he is looking to rebound off of a pretty depressing regular season that he summed up with a phenomenal playoff performance. That is if he sticks around Big D for next season. The FA market is still flourishing, even if the big names have latched themselves to new cities and sweaters. This means that trades are still in play and being made. Horcoff was one of the Stars top trading-block players, but they didn’t dish him when names were flying like hot-cakes yesterday. So will Horcoff stick around another year? If he does, where will he fit in the Stars lineup? Or will he get dished before October 9th?

The possibilities are endless with these four players, as you can see. Another thought brought up by a few people on Twitter was to trade Cole, some thought it was because Horcoff might be too difficult to trade because of his off year and his aging, and some just don’t like having the fourth highest goal scorer on their team apparently (I’m telling all of you, he’s worth another year, especially on a line with Spezza and Hemsky). If that trade would happen, The Stars could shift Horcoff to LW and then go form there. But that trade isn’t definite. And neither is a Horcoff trade. Horcoff can’t go to Austin either so what to do from here?

My idea (oh boy as if we haven’t already had enough of those): Keep Morin in AHL, Fiddler starts on the fourth line with Eaves as the healthy scratch so less call-ups have to occur throughout the year and the Stars can avoid having to send some players through waivers. If you can’t find a new home for Cole or Horcoff, I just don’t know. Maybe a second healthy scratch on Horcoff? Sceviour might be sent down, but with the year he had, the kid is the next Alex Chiasson (still sad, don’t get me wrong). If Peverley decides to throw in the towel and peacefully retire from NHL play, that would also open up necessary space. But if Pevs still plays, he’s a great help on the ice and the Stars could really use him.

So as you can see, its quite the road block.

Still, be ready for next year! My friend and new convert from Missouri just bought a Stars shirt, so that’s pretty sweet (go for a jersey too, Jenny!). So the Stars are being spread around like wildfire! It’ll be a good year, and I trust Jim Nill will make the right moves as he always does when he comes to this situation.

Please tell me your thoughts on this conundrum in the comments below! I’ll talk to y’all later, thinking and writing about this situation gave me a headache. Nonetheless, GO STARS!



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Tags: Analysis Center Dallas Stars Free Agency Future Jim Nill NHL Offseason Vernon Fiddler

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