The Dallas Stars front office finally zigged when we all predicted a zag. Offloading a contract that needed to be moved while adding a little spice to the lineup appears to be an efficient move prior to the deadline. While the Stars may not be done making deals, they’re headed in the right direction when it comes to tooling the lineup for a cup run soon.
Since they haven’t pushed all the chips in to win this year, it’s become appropriate to analyze their approach to Nill’s last years of being the Stars GM and why we’re forced to exhibit the same patience he’s employed at the deadline.
Dallas Stars Trade Deadline: Patience Is a Virtue
Razor said something on the pre-game show Wednesday that may have been overlooked amidst the demands for a trade. The Eastern Conference is treating the trade deadline like an arms race, with every team competing for every inch of property they can hold onto in the playoffs.
At the end of the day, the Stars only have to play against one Eastern conference team to win the cup, and having a 3-round slugfest between that pool of squadrons could benefit the emerging Western conference champion come June. At the same time, the Stars have not forfeited any of the treasured prospects and are likely to place even higher in Scott Wheeler’s Prospect pool rankings to kick off the year next year.
Holding onto prospects through the end of the year benefits the stars two-fold. As covered in Nick’s pipeline primer, the Stars have two early candidates for next year’s Calder race. Mavrik Bourque has settled into his AHL status and has ripped off a streak of 23 points in the past 28 games, at 22 next year he’ll certainly be ready to make the jump.
Logan Stankoven was one of the last cuts of Summer camp and has sharpened his skills with the likes of Connor Bedard at the World Juniors amidst a blistering 2.13 ppg at the WHL level. Behind them, Harley will be stepping up to replace a recently bought-out Ryan Suter and Bichsel will take his place in Cedar Park to organically grow the defensive core with Kyrou and Grushnikov not far behind.
Beyond stat sheet value, these assets will still be available come this time next year. While their entry-level contracts provide the cheap depth that cultivates simultaneous development, they can be moved for immediate contributors if needed.
It’ll be harder to accommodate the larger contracts of higher skill and the Stars will have two first-round picks in the immediate drafts of ’24 and ’25 that appeal to rebuilding teams shedding their diamonds in the rough. Next year is Nill’s last year as GM and while he may not leave the cupboard bare for his successor, he’ll certainly be more motivated to leave on a higher note.
Dallas Stars Trade Deadline: The Art of a Deal
Circling back to the here and now, Dadonov for Gurianov was a trade that needed to happen. Given that Guri was an RFA qualifying for almost $3 million, he was not going to live up to that with the opportunities given here. Washing our hands of the contract and leveraging what’s left of the 2015 first-round pick’s career in Dallas for a rental is a win-win for Dallas.
Denis worked hard and contributed to the bubble cup run, and for that he will always be fondly remembered by Stars fans despite not quite living up to his first-round prospect billing. To serve as our new resident Russian right winger, Evgenii Dadonov steps in with a big opportunity to contribute.
Already pacing at a point per game, Dadonov has brought life to the cadaver of what our second power play unit used to be. Gone are the days when Wyatt scrambles for an option that isn’t a point shot from Nils/Suter, as we’ve seen Dadanov carry and distribute with his time up a man. Serving as the primary assist on Seguin’s PP goal, one might begin to wonder if he would be useful jumping up on the Seguin line.
Adding him here might assist in resurrecting the game of Mason Marchment while restoring the Delly-Benn-Wyatt line that has proven to be the 2nd best scoring efficient line in the league. Once the first line starts firing again, the Dadonov contributions will become more understated yet every bit impactful.
Early returns highlight the efficiency of the trade, with the Dallas Stars scoring four in both games since the trade. Netting four goals would’ve been enough to flip six of the Stars’ eight losses since January 23rd and drawn them even in the remaining two contests. The scoring punch has been slightly redeemed, and how that is distributed going forward will make the difference in how much of a run this team can make.
While the conservative method at the deadline reserves this bunch for higher investment next year, the likes of Johnston, Dellandrea, and Lundkvist would greatly benefit from an extended push to add a layer of grit and experience they can’t learn in practice. Leaning on youth for depth next year means this year’s young guns need to grow up fast.
Dallas Stars Trade Deadline: No more “I like where this team’s at”
It’s hard to say goodbye to players like Denis, but both parties benefit from shaking up the relationship. Dadonov raises the ceiling for this year’s team and a lengthier campaign thickens the skin of the team’s young core. On the surface Stars fans are wading through the still waters of another patient Nill deadline, but there’s only one more after this one before a new era of management. The Stars window for a cup is opening, albeit slower than we’d all like to see it.