We have yet to reach training camp and it appears the trade market price for right-handed defenders has been set. The past week has seen a huge trade, some quiet signings, and rumors abound from the immediate fallout. The Dallas Stars have surfaced as a player in these conversations, but not for the name you would think. With all things considered, a new set of analyses need to be run regarding the Stars and where they stand on the idea of strengthening their d-core.
Dallas Stars RD Market Reset: Breaking the summer silence
Kyle Dubas made the biggest splash of an already eventful first offseason leading the Penguins by landing long-coveted Norris trophy winner Erik Karlsson. Three days after promoting himself to General Manager, Dubas swung a trade for the superstar while only surrendering two picks (’24 first & ’25 second) and revealing the true currency of the ’23-’24 season: cap flexibility.
With the Sharks only retaining $1.5 mil of the Karlsson contract the cap space moved down for the Canadiens (-$887k), down for the Sharks (-$2.25 mil), but up for the Pens (+$3.1 mil). With the priority established for cup competitors, the players involved reveal their unique values as well.
The Stars player of interest in the fallout of this trade was spotlighted by Chris Johnston in recent musings as Jeff Petry. Solid, bigger puck-moving defenseman on a low-value contract that could upgrade the right side, seems like it would be a good fit on the surface. However, the basis on which these ideas circulated makes me quite skeptical.
Johnston’s grounds for drawing attention to the Stars as a target was based on a history of interest during deadlines and off-seasons past. Most of the discussions that included Petry in a package to Dallas have expired based on his age and the makeup of the Dallas backend with Harley secured as the puck-mover in the second pair.
While I’m skeptical of a trade for Petry, I certainly would not be opposed. If Harley is going to have to play opposite a slower, bigger body then greatly upgrading the skill for about $500k is not bad. Hakanpaa remains the only moveable piece on defense for Dallas, after the Colin Miller contract chip was played to New Jersey, and the role next to Harley is the only flexible one.
The only way Suter’s immoveable contract and lifeless body can be propped up is by the otherworldly influence of Miro Heiskanen, holding them as the top pair. At the bottom, Esa Lindell looks to rebound with discount Klingberg alongside him developing in his own right as the offensive threat of their pairing.
Dallas Stars RD Market Reset: New market, who dis?
While these descriptions sound sarcastic and harsh, I’ve made peace with them being our 1st and 3rd pairs since offseason communications from the front office have indicated as much (and discount Klingberg is no jab at Nils Lundkvist). I also remain a huge fan of plundering the weapons stockpile of the Carolina Hurricanes and their defense.
Further pushing the plot for the defensive right’s market, Caleb Jones was signed by Carolina on a two-way deal to give them a 7th, 8th, or 9th defenseman on the big-league roster, depending on how you look at it. I’ve made my feelings about Brett Pesce well known to this point, but the water out East is coming to a boil. If the spots are being squeezed and the Stars are being open about RD pursuit, maybe the Petry rumors will drive down the cost for Pesce.
Pesce notified the front office that if they couldn’t work out a deal before training camp, he’d pursue other ventures. While this story has been subverted by other offseason headlines, his personal deadline has crept up on us with no news of negotiations.
With cap room of utmost importance for cup contenders, as outlined by the Karlsson move, the Canes have sought alternatives to extending Pesce like Tony Deangelo and Caleb Jones.
With 1-year left, Jalen Chatfield’s cap hit is close to the league minimum at $775k which is optimal for RD3 or a seventh defensemen. With Caleb Jones filling the seventh d-man role and Dylan Coghlan playing on the last year of an $850k deal as an RFA, dealing Pesce and his $4 mil appears to be the only option.
Dallas Stars RD Market Reset: Good things come to those who wait
With the ball being in Carolina’s court on Pesce, Jim Nill is in an ideal situation. As a GM who loves to remain patient, his options are to stand pat/bet on his guys, grab a discounted Jeff Petry from rebuilding Montreal, or smoke out the Canes as they price out of Pesce.
Landing price-gouged Pesce after winning Duchene from his Nashville buyout would earn Nill back-to-back GM of the Year awards, without a doubt. No matter what, the impending training camp period will reveal much for the Stars and how seriously they’re taking the 2024 campaign.