Since we’re a couple of months out from the deadline itself, the market’s sellers and buyers have yet to be firmly established. We’re still getting random trades with strange off-ice storylines like the Cutter Gauthier subplot that was buried until the trade became public. The important thing is not who the Stars can go after, but who they can move for a more attractive piece. The mobility of said players is often determined by contracts or, especially in the Star's case, internal pressure.
Immoveable: Robertson, Pavelski, Hintz, Duchene, Seguin, Marchment, Benn, Johnston
Moveable: Dadonov, Faksa, Smith, Steel, Dellandrea
The important thing to recognize with the forward group is the amount of cap space afforded to the first two names up here, and the amount of talented depth this group has. I’ve read David Castillo’s work on Stankoven and Bourque all year long and how he thinks if they plan to use Bourque as a Center in the long run, he should be called up as a Center. To me, this indicates that Stankoven is more likely to get the call-up and slot in on the Right Wing of the 3rd line. Who’s currently occupying that spot? Evgenii Dadonov.
A 20-goal scorer that plays both wings can be the depth piece that a lot of these top-heavy playoff contenders need, and Dadonov fits that bill. 2 playoff runs with him shoring up depth scoring at $2.25m a year could attract suitors that are willing to part with some minor draft capital, a prospect, or a combination of the two. The key here is not the return it’s the freedom. Freedom for Stankoven to develop with Johnston alongside Benn and freedom for the Stars to spend that $2.25m on a right-handed defenseman.
Addressing the cap elephant in the room and recognizing that the forwards are the true strength indicates the only other optimally moveable player than Radek Faksa. The trio of Steel, Smith, and Dellandrea are all moveable in a sense but are also players that can plug into the lineup all for $1m or under. Faksa’s $3.25m is a bit harder to sell, but he’s the only chip & chase center left on the roster and would make room for Bourque’s call-up. The Stars may have to retain a portion of his money and package him with one of the moveable defensemen. (right on queue!)
Immoveable: Heiskanen, Harley, Suter, Lindell
Moveable: Hakanpaa, Lundkvist, Hanley
Picking up on the Faksa discussion, the easy suggestion to package with him (or Dadonov for that matter) would be Nils Lundkvist. After Heiskanen is safe to skate, the Lundkvist showcase will be over and DeBoer will no longer be forced to start him. A second retread on a former first-rounder may sound tough on its own but is smoothed by a package with a pick and/or something else that the team may be interested in. I’ve wanted the Lundkvist development to pan out, yet at the same time, a fit cannot be forced for Pete DeBoer.
Ripping off the Lundkvist band-aid is more likely than shipping Jani Hakanpaa, which would alleviate $1.5m against the cap. A bit of a style clash, Hakanpaa’s flight would provide space for the position of need to be addressed on the right side despite vacating a top penalty kill spot. Ideally, most of those minutes would be eaten by the acquisition and the rest could be applied evenly through the depth of the group. Lindell needs a counterpart that can stretch the ice a bit and take over between zones, something Hakanpaa is incapable of providing.
If the Stars need youth or physicality, the two positives of Lundkvist & Hakanpaa respectively, they could pull Lian Bichsel from his Swedish vacation. Much less likely than Bourque or Stankoven, Bichsel could be the depth call-up if the Stars stand pat with forwards at the deadline. The options are slim since forwards fly like birds at the deadline, and defensemen are a bit more precious. At this point though, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Goalies: All Immoveable
The goalie situation has played out according to plan so far this year. After Murray’s seasonal debut in scoreless fashion, the emergency measures of riding Wedgewood into virtual unconsciousness were backstopped by a flash of youth behind him. The Stars have the world-beater in Jake Oettinger, sore groin and all, to guide them through the warpath of the Stanley Cup playoffs. If the goalie situation is to change, it won’t be during the season.