The early season trade winds are already blowing throughout the NHL, and the Dallas Stars once again are rumored to be at the forefront. But, this time around, there doesn’t seem to be a need for the trade in question.
Every NHL fan loves a good trade rumor, and Dallas Stars fans are no different.
When a big-name player is rumored to be on the market, regardless of whether it is mid-January or a week before the NHL Entry Draft in June, everyone gets “the itch.” Fans dream about how much better their team could be with that player in the lineup, configure what it would cost, and begin concocting offers that might work in a trade.
And, nine times out of ten, it is for absolutely no gain. The player is either traded to another team or remains with his current club, leaving fans to hold a false and sometimes unfair sense of disappointment against their favorite team’s management.
It’s happened on a handful of occasions with the Stars in years past. After general manager Jim Nill landed free agent Tyler Seguin and traded for Jason Spezza in back-to-back summers, the Stars became the epicenter of free agent and trade destinations.
That has led to some expectations at times as well as some consistent rumors. At times, those expectations have been logical; but, on other occasions, they have seemed incredibly shortsighted or just flat out confusing.
The trade rumor was reported initially by David Pagnotta, who is typically a pretty reliable source. Alzner and Schlemko were recently waived by the Montreal Canadiens, but both are veteran defenders now in need of a new NHL home.
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And while it may be fun to think about adding more veteran defensemen to a young blue line at the moment, a trade for either of these players likely will not be happening for one simple reason: they don’t make sense.
At the moment, the Dallas Stars are in a bit of an odd situation. Of their current cap space only $7,482,499 is being spent on the defense. That’s the cheapest of any team in the NHL right now. The reasoning for this, as you probably already know, is that John Klingberg, Stephen Johns, Marc Methot, and Connor Carrick are all sidelined with various injuries.
Even though they have not been counted into CapFriendly’s breakdown of the Dallas defensive cap, they are still added into the overall team cap hit, which currently sits at an estimated $317,549. That’s a minuscule amount that doesn’t give them a lot of breathing room to work with.
And with that being said, it’s probably not the best time for the Dallas Stars to try and do any cap gymnastics. Alzner brings a $4.625 million AAV for the next four years, while Schlemko puts up a $2.1 million AAV for the next two seasons. Neither of those is a decent enough amount for Dallas to consider trying to mesh into their overall cap hit.
Pucks and Pitchforks
More so, a move like this doesn’t make much sense, regardless of whether the rumor is true or not. After a few successful years in Washington, Alzner picked up a big contract with the Canadiens. He’s 30 years old, plays his best hockey as a shutdown defender, using his size and reach to cut off the offense. He can skate big minutes and be a consistent force in the defensive zone. Meanwhile, Schlemko is 31 and can log big minutes while also playing a smart, risk-free game that is sometimes a little too conservative.
But, at the end of the day, the Stars don’t need to go through the headache of making either fit. In years past, a trade to bolster the defense might have been just what the Dallas Stars needed right now. This season, however, Dallas owns the third-lowest goals against per games played average in the NHL at 2.57. They have done so using their AHL depth for the majority of November and into December and still are finding ways to win games and look like a legitimate NHL blue line.
The depth is working for them as they await reinforcements from the injured reserve list. Players like Joel Hanley, Taylor Fedun, and Gavin Bayreuther are carrying the load for Dallas down the stretch. As a result, why bring in a veteran to help out for a handful of games and then be forced to deal with the headaches that his contract brings going into the seasons ahead?
Going into the defensive plague, it could have been natural for the Dallas Stars to make a move and acquire a defender. But, they played the risk and relied on their offseason depth signings and young AHL players; so far, it has paid off in a major way.
As a result, going after Alzner or Schlemko just doesn’t seem to be in the cards for the Stars. Yes, they are two quality depth defenders and yes, they possess some upside. But it simply comes down to a matter of need, and Dallas doesn’t need them right now. Though it was reported and fans love to gawk over rumors, it’s hard to see this one being true or serious.
So, for now, just gawk at how the Dallas Stars “skeleton crew” defense continues to improve every game and prove themselves to be one of the best blue lines in the NHL.