Last night Jim Nill and the Dallas Stars made their third blockbuster trade in as many years.
The Stars acquired Patrick Sharp and young defensemen Stephen Johns from the Chicago Blackhawks for Trevor Daley and Ryan Garbutt.
That sentence brings out mixed emotions flowing through Stars fans. On one hand your team acquired a proven veteran with three Stanley Cup Championships who you spent the past five years booing. On the other hand you watched two core players, who had their moments, but frustrated you with inconsistency and mediocrity. The shock and awe of a trade like this can make your head spin with all sorts of emotions. Let me try to tame those emotions by explaining why this move works for both teams.
Blackhawks, financial help. Stars, win now.
Who would have thought a small one-year deal signed by Jamie Oleksiak a couple days ago would help cause a blockbuster trade? However at the time, the $800,000 plus contract put the Dallas at eight defensemen on the roster without minor level options. Meaning if they sent a defensemen to the Texas Stars, they would have to pass through waivers (you Ranger fans saw how that went with Neftali Feliz). That left the Stars with a decision to keep an extra d-man, (most teams carry seven defensemen on a roster) and fortunately they found a move that took care of that need while adding a championship caliber player and young defensemen to develop in the AHL. For Jim Nill and company, they want to win now.
The Chicago Blackhawks had financial needs to be fixed. Rumors were flying around Patrick Sharp since the offseason started. After the Blackhawks’s Stanley Cup parade, there were two big needs, sign Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Once those $84 million contracts were signed, the Blackhawks wanted to move Sharp to clear up cap space. So Sharp and his five plus salary cap hit heads to the Stars. A financial hit the Stars are willing to take to win and win fast.
They quickly forgot other pieces.
Do not sleep on the other players in this deal. We have seen first hand how productively pesky Garbutt can be when paired with the right guys. He scored and assisted with Eakin/Roussel line while contributing to the penalty-kill on the other end of the ice. However his reckless hitting often led to suspensions and injuries that stunted his hockey growth. It will be interesting to see how Garbutt gels with the current champs.
Stephen Johns seems to big the defensive prospect the Stars are missing. His plus 30 ratings was tied for first for the AHL but that’s not why Jim Nill likes Johns.
“He gives us a right-handed shot and a little bit of a more physical element,” Nill said. “So I think we really have nice balance now in our group of young defensemen.”
Johns is expected to play in the AHL this season and his future is hard to predict, but clearly Nill and the Stars feel confident about him and the trade.
The rest of the offseason for the Stars.
With the blockbuster trade now complete, the Stars will spend the rest of the offseason looking to improve the defensive lines. With the confidence Nill shows for Johns, the Stars know he is a future project. If the Stars want to battle with the big boys in the Western Conference, the D-lines have to improve on their 26th ranked goals against per game. Two goalies and a strong offensive core with sub par defense is not a recipe for playoff success in this league, just ask Patrick Sharp and his former teammates.