The Nils Lundkvist Trade: Two Schools Of Thought

Nov 5, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; New York Rangers defensemen Nils Lundkvist (27) skates against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; New York Rangers defensemen Nils Lundkvist (27) skates against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill finally did it! He traded away a 1st round pick! I never thought I’d see the light of day that he would willingly trade out a 1st round pick! Last night, the Dallas Stars traded a 2023 conditional 1st round pick and a 2025 conditional 4th round pick to the New York Rangers in exchange for 22 year old defenseman Nils Lundkvist.

My original reaction to the trade was one of surprise because of the price Dallas was willingly to pay to have Nils Lundkvist become a Star. Many in the media were reporting teams were willing to offer a second round pick for Lundkvist, but not much more. This was mostly because of the trade request Lundkvist’s agent, Claude Lemieux (Yes. That Lemieux.), asked of New York Rangers General Manager Chris Drury.

The Stars not only offered up a 1st round pick, but also a sweetener with a conditional 4th round pick that could become a 3rd round pick if Lundkvist does well enough in new head coach Pete DeBoer’s system.

There are two schools of thought coming from Stars’ fans across social media with this trade, and I understand both to a certain extent, but I do lean more towards one direction than the other.

First school of thought is this. First off, how on EARTH could Nill offer up a 1st round pick for Lundkvist when Nill he knows Lundkvist has requested a trade? The Rangers should have ZERO leverage in this trade! Don’t offer up your best assets when you know Drury is trying to get rid of him!

To add on to this, Nils Lundkvist has not shown that he’s an every day NHL player just yet. He split time between the NHL and the AHL last season with the Rangers and the Hartford Wolf Pack. In the NHL, he managed 1 goal and 3 assists for 4 points in 25 NHL games while getting 3 goals and 12 assists for 15 points in 34 AHL games.

However, especially right now, I’m leaning towards the second school of thought on the Lundkvist trade. First off, the Stars’ defensemen prospect depth was definitely scarce compared with their forwards and that was seen in this year’s draft with drafting a defenseman with every pick except for two (one forward and one goalie). Lundkvist immediately improves the defensive depth in the present, near future, and far future. The 28th overall pick from the 2018 draft is viewed by Stars management as having “a high ceiling”.

Secondly, I love this trade because of Nill’s willingness to take a risk on a player that potentially has “a high ceiling”. Over the past couple of seasons, I have seen many Stars’ fans (myself included) complain about the lack of risks Nill has taken over the past couple of seasons in just signing aging veterans to contracts that many fans feel are too pricey and for too much term. In my opinion, this trade is the second big risk he has taken this offseason other than the signing of Mason Marchment.

Thirdly, with the departure of Klingberg to Anaheim, the Stars’ defensive core looked weaker. The arrival of Lundkvist can boost the defensive core of this team. Lundkvist is a creative player who likes to play on the power play. I’m not saying that Lundkvist is immediately going to come in and fulfill the role that Klingberg played, but why not take a shot with this kid who was getting buried in a really deep defensive core in New York?

Finally, the biggest reason why I like the trade is because Lundkvist is a RIGHT-handed defenseman. One of the biggest talking points among Stars’ fans is the untapped potential of Miro Heiskanen, what he could do playing under a new system, and what he could do playing on his strong side.

After the Stars were eliminated from the playoffs, it was amazing to watch Heiskanen play the strong side in the World Championships for his home country, Finland. It was amazing to watch! With all of that said, could we see Lundkvist get thrust on the top pairing with Heiskanen so Heiskanen could play on his strong side?

Obviously, Nill believes Lundkvist. He wouldn’t have given up a very valuable asset in his eyes (a first round pick) if he didn’t think Nils Lundkvist would work well with this team. Only time will tell whether this was a fantastic deal for the Stars or not, but it gets me even MORE excited when training camp opens in Cedar Park on September 22nd. LET’S GO!!!