It seems as if the Stars’ luck is beginning to turn around. In just the past month, the team has taken major strides to break out of poor habits created in their previous season. From acquiring goaltender Ben Bishop from Los Angeles to bringing home head coach Ken Hitchcock, the evidence suggests the Stars mean business.
The Stars signed Big Ben to a six-year, $29.5 million contract extension on Friday. It complicates the decision of which of the two current goaltenders to buy-out. With Bishop on the Stars’ side, though, at least there is a silver lining.
Bishop Pushes the 3rd-Man Out
Bishop will flourish under Ken Hitchcock’s style of coaching. Coddling of any nature will be a thing of the past, which will push the Stars to reach their potential. Unfortunately for the Stars, bringing in Bishop and Hitchcock pushes out two teammates. Coach Lindy Ruff made his departure in April, but now GM Jim Nill needs to decide which goaltender to say goodbye to.
Buying out Antti Niemi and leaving Kari Lehtonen unprotected for the draft seems to be a viable option for the Stars. Lehtonen could potentially be a solid backup for Vegas. The Stars would have the opportunity to bring in whomever they desired.
Reunite Shattenkirk and Hitchcock
Considering the Stars’ urge to rebuild, going after UFA Kevin Shattenkirk would not be a bad decision. If Nill can find the position, money and work out a contract, reuniting Shattenkirk and Hitchcock would be almost too good to be true.
Before returning to Dallas, Hitchcock coached the St. Louis Blues for just under six seasons. Shattenkirk played defense for St. Louis, beginning in 2010 through the 2016-17 season when he was traded to the Washington Capitals.
In 2013-14, Shattenkirk signed a four-year, $17 million contract with the St Louis Blues.
Normally, a trade of Shattenkirk’s caliber seems out of reach for the Stars but with his contract ending in the 2017-18 season and Hitchcock’s presence in Dallas, it seems to be an enticing fit.
UFA Kevin Shattenkirk wants a bigger role somewhere. "I know I'm not Shea Weber … but I've kind of done it all before."
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) May 12, 2017
With Bishop between the pipes, why not bulk up the defense in front of him? Pairing defensemen Shattenkirk and Jamie Oleksiak would benefit the Stars in multiple ways: developing Oleksiak and creating a providing invaluable skill to the Dallas ice.
Shattenkirk Would Displace a Defenseman
If the reunion between Hitchcock and Shattenkirk were to occur, it would mean losing one of the Stars’ current defensemen.
During the 2017-18 season, both Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth are RFA’s, meaning their absence could provide the open slot. If the Nill wanted to keep the roster the same, Stephen Johns’ two-way contract ends in 2018, so his return to Cedar Park would be a viable option. Any transaction decision would be difficult; however, the bigger picture would need to be considered.
Bringing Shattenkirk to the Stars would be a huge steal for the hockey club. If a large role on the ice is what he seeks, Dallas would be an ideal city for that to come true. For the Stars, the 2017-18 season already has a few good things going for it. Perhaps there’s still something or someone out there to bring back the reputation the team seeks.