The Dallas Stars are starting the stretch drive of the 2011-2012 season, and find themselves in a battle for the eighth and last playoff spot in the Western Conference with at least three other teams.
It is becoming more and more obvious that the Stars can not compete with this year’s elite teams, as evidenced by the 5-2 thumping the Stars endured in San Jose after the All-Star break.
This leads to a lot of speculation on what new owner Tom Gaglardi and GM Joe Nieuwendyk will be willing to do to improve this team as the February 27 trade deadline approaches. And this will be Nieuwendyk’s first trade deadline without financial restrictions looming over him.
With Gaglardi now running the show, Stars fans have expected some sort of change or splash already. He understands one of the biggest weaknesses on this team is the lack of scoring depth on the top two lines.
Here’s what Gaglardi had to say in a recent interview with the local media:
“Are we looking at making our team better in the top six? The answer is yes. If that means more payroll, are we prepared to do it? The answer is yes. The question is what is the cost?”
“If you look at the age group of our players, we are still a young team,” he said. “Jamie Benn is the next Mike Modano; he’s only 22. Does it make sense to bring in a guy that’s 35 years old to make the playoffs this year? I don’t think so. We want to build around our young guys and be an up and coming team where we know we are going to be good for several years. That is where Vancouver is right now; they put the team together, stuck together, and is now having success. This is where Chicago is and Boston, too. That’s the way to do this thing. You can’t go out and trade for a bunch of things.”
Gaglardi knows the Stars can’t be a low-payroll team to not only compete in the NHL, but also compete in the Dallas market. The Stars are falling behind in relevancy and while making the playoffs this season is important but not necessary, they also can’t afford to go into a full rebuilding mode that would essentially start this team over from scratch for the next few years.
The Stars had their second Hall of Fame recognition night of the season last week, in honor of former goaltender Ed Belfour, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame earlier this season. Belfour played in 307 regular season games as a member of the Stars, compiling a 160-95-44 record with a .910 save percentage, 2.19 goals against average and 27 shutouts. He won a Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999 and played in 73 playoff games for the club during his tenure, registering 44 wins and eight shutouts.