Thursday, April 4, 2013
Thursday Morning Cupcheck - The Great Dallas Stars Sell-Off of 2013
Were the Stars big deadline winners, or pathetic losers with no hope for success?
Good morning, hockey fans! Last week we penned an anguished, heartfelt letter to the Pittsburgh Penguins, urging them not to follow in the tear-soaked footsteps of the once-proud Dallas Stars. This week, rather than start picking out champagne brands for the Stars' 2013 Stanley Cup Championship, we're going to dive in and really get elbow-deep into the Great Dallas Stars Sell-Off of 2013.
The Stars, at least in the past 15 years, have never been "sellers" at the trade deadline before --the Niewendyk and Langenbrunner for Arnott trade was considered more of a 'lateral' move at the time, even though it turned out to be anything but-- so long-suffering Stars fans were in uncharted waters this week. Questions abounded: Would Derek Roy fetch two 1sts and a prospect? What about Jagr? Surely he's worth at least half a Crosby, right? Where are my pants?
As is turns out, the market for free agent rentals is not as hot as, say, the market for meth. While there were relatively few "sellers" thanks to the shortened season and the loser point, Dallas nevertheless was one of the few teams, along with Buffalo and Calgary, that unloaded dead UFA weight in favor of stockpiling picks and prospects. But did they get enough?
Of course that's a BS question, since we won't know for another five years. So, uh, I guess let's wait, then?
..ah eff this, let's pass immediate and final judgement on these trades right now!
Sale #1: Brenden Morrow and a 3rd for Joe Morrow and a 5th
The Stars Will Get: Joe Morrow, a slick puck-moving defenseman with a booming shot, who dominated the WHL but struggled mightily in his first AHL ceiling. And a 5th, which for Dallas, has a better than 50% of becoming an NHL regular.
Final Judgement: Inexplicably, this is considered to be a 'fleecing' of the Stars. The Pens had extra bluechip d-men in the system since trading Jordan Staal, and opted to part with one for about 14 games of Morrow struggling to keep up with the fourth line. It took all of one game for Shero to realize he got a package of damaged goods, then he went out and sold the farm for 12 games of Jarome Iginla. Dallas, meanwhile, gets another offensive d-man in the prospect pool, along with Jamie Oleksiak and Ludwig Bystrom. Uncontested Winner: Dallas
Sale #2: Derek Roy for Kevin Connauton and a 2nd
The Canucks Get: A verstaile two-way center that can take loads of defensive faceoffs, even if he's currently only winning 46% of them this season. This is great news for Vancouver, which desperately needs to protect the Sedin twins from defensive responsibilites any way they can.
The Stars Will Get: Kevin Connauton, an offensive d-man in the mold of Goligoski, with plenty of puck moving skill but a project on actual defense. And Vancouver's 2nd.
Final Judgement: While it's hard to know which Derek Roy will show up for the Canucks --the rugged, speedy two-way guy who elevates his linemates, or the disinterested, skating-in-circles mercenary who can't be bothered to put forth an effort when he knows he's gone anyways-- but odds are good he'll help them through at least one round of the playoffs, considering who their likely opponents will be (Detroit, San Jose). Dallas, meanwhile, has another guy to light a fire under Goligoski, and a mid to late second, which in a deep 2013 draft is not a bad pick to have. All for a guy who clearly wasn't going to re-sign with Dallas for less than $6 million a season. Uncontested Winner: Dallas.
Sale #3: Jaromir Jagr for Cody Payne, Lane MacDermid and a conditional 2nd
The Bruins Get: One of the best possession forwards in the NHL, despite his age. A guy who they can run their terrible powerplay through. A guy who skates the puck in rather than dumping it off. And an instant jersey sales boost.
The Stars Will Get: A fourth line pugilist with some defensive upside in MacDermid. A possible third line power forward in Cody Payne. And a second round pick that can turn into a first if the Bruins win two rounds, which, without Patrice Bergeron, is unlikely.
Final Judgement: Boston got the guy they wanted, but maybe not the guy they're expecting. This is not the Jagr of 1993 or 1999 or even 2006. He's lost a lot more than a step, which makes his defensive lapses all the more noticeable, and potentially crushing. He is a notorious cherry picker in the defensive zone, which was fine when he was putting up 140 points, but not so much when he's putting up 30. While the Stars are a worse team in terms of talent without him, their young guys --fully a third of last night's roster was under the age of 23, a percentage that will only increase when the AHL playoffs are over-- need someone else to model themselves after. Jagr had become the prototypical Dallas Stars forward: playing to score and pump up his individual stats at the expense of the team game. With him gone, it's a crapshoot as to what will happen next. Even though he wasn't going to re-sign in Dallas --he lived the entire time in a hotel room, for chrissakes-- you gotta figure GM Joe could've gotten a better haul. Even Morrow commanded more on the market, inexplicably. Uncontested Winner: Boston.
Sale #4: Tomas Vincour for Cameron Gaunce
The Avs Get: A strong possession forward who is absolutely snakebit when it come to actually scoring. Few Stars forwards were stronger on the puck in all three zones, yet even fewer Stars forwards got less minutes than Vincour. There's nothing on the ice that would explain this --in the six games last season where he was given good minutes, he produced in all three zones and on the scoreboard-- other than perhaps Vincour doesn't practice well. Either way, of the two coaches who continuously made him a healthy scratch, one is fired and the other is preparing his resume on Monster.com as we speak, so there's that.
The Dallas Stars Will Get: Cameron Gaunce, who some Avs fans were not too happy to see go. A former 2nd rounder and a defensive beast, with size, aggression and decent puck skills. Also, apparently a natural leader and a quick wit.
Final Judgement: The statnerds among us will be sorry to see Vincour go: he played just 86 games here, and in only a half-dozen of those was he given decent minutes. He was severely underutilized, but perhaps with the Avs that can change. He would make a powerful winger on O'Reilly's second line, if the Avs don't suffer from the same complete lack of foresight that Dallas coaches have. The Stars, meanwhile, get the guy the Avs needed far more than another winger: a competent, physical defender with leadership potential, and a fan favorite in the making. Uncontested Winner: Dallas.
Final Haul: 14 games of Brenden Morrow, 12 games of Jagr and Roy, and (probably) 8 or 9 games of Tomas Vincour for Joe Morrow, Kevin Connauton, Cameron Gaunce, Lane MacDermid, Cody Payne, two 2nds and over $12 million in freed up cap space for this offseason. If even one of those three defenseman --and smart money is on both Morrow and Gaunce becoming Stars regulars in the not too distant future-- playes 50 games, this becomes a win for Dallas. The two second rounders give Dallas four picks in the first two rounds of a deep draft, which doesn't hurt. And all for a bunch of guys who were not going to be re-signed anyways.
Man, why didn't we try this sooner?