The Dallas Stars host the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night in a trade deadline eve match-up. The two teams come into the game headed in opposite directions. While the Penguins gear up for another playoff run, Stars management is shifting focus to this summer and next season. For the home team’s players and coaches, though, it’s business as usual.
“You’ve got a job to do,” said Stars bench boss Lindy Ruff. “It’s my job to get them [the players] in the right place. I want them to go out and do their job, take pride in their play. We want to win as many games as we can…until that day comes where it’s no longer possible to get in [the playoffs], you’ve got to win as many games in the meantime.”
Ruff won’t have to expend energy motivating winger Curtis McKenzie, however; he’s looking forward to facing Sidney Crosby & Co.
“Oh, yeah…It’s the same as playing Chicago or teams like that. Teams that have won and have the elite players, they set the bar, so you want to be there and have the team match them.”
The players will do their best to focus on the task at hand, blocking out the distraction of tomorrow’s 2:00 p.m. CST trade deadline. Teammates Patrick Eaves and Jordie Benn are already gone, and playoff-bound clubs around the league have expressed interest in Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Lauri Korpikoski and others.
Deals can come at any time: It’s not unheard-of for players to be traded during pre-game warmups, pulled off the ice and sent packing. Once the puck drops at 7:38 p.m., though, all of the players in Victory Green will be Dallas Stars, even if it’s for just one more game.
Pittsburgh Penguins at Dallas Stars
American Airlines Center – 7:30 pm CST
Broadcast channels – FS-SW, ROOT
2016-17 Season Series: Dec. 1 – Penguins 6, Stars 2
Pittsburgh Penguins: 38-14-8 – 84 Points
Road Record: 13-10-5
Hot Players: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Matt Murray
Key Injuries: Trevor Daley, Olli Maatta, Bryan Rust and Conor Sheary
Carl Hagelin – Sidney Crosby – Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz – Evgeni Malkin – Phil Kessel
Scott Wilson – Nick Bonino – Jake Guentzel
Tom Kuhnhackl – Matt Cullen – Eric Fehr
Ian Cole – Justin Schultz
Ron Hainsey – Brian Dumoulin
Cameron Gaunce – Chad Ruhwedel
Dallas Stars: 24-28-10 – 58 Points
Home Record: 17-10-6
Hot Players: Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and John Klingberg
Key Injuries: Adam Cracknell, Mattias Janmark and Ales Hemsky
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Brett Ritchie
Antoine Roussel – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Sharp
Lauri Korpikoski – Radek Faksa – Jason Spezza
Curtis McKenzie – Devin Shore – Jiri Hudler
Esa Lindell – John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis – Jamie Oleksiak
Johnny Oduya – Patrik Nemeth
1) Monday afternoon, Stars defenseman Jordie Benn was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Greg Pateryn and a fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft. Pateryn arrived in Dallas this morning and won’t play tonight.
2) One often-overlooked aspect of trades is the financial impact on the players themselves. According to CapFriendly.com, if Benn remains with the Canadiens for the remaining two years of his contract, the significantly higher tax rates in Montreal will cost him about $340,000 more than he would’ve paid in Dallas. Likewise, Pateryn’s move from Montreal to Dallas will save the blueliner roughly $137,000 in taxes next season. Those figures don’t take into account withholding for CBA-mandated escrow, which can reduce the value of contracts and the corresponding tax burden. Escrow aside, that’s quite a kick in the wallet for Benn.
3) After long-time Star Trevor Daley was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in the summer of 2015, the Stars produced a tribute video to play on the defenseman’s first trip back to the American Airlines Center. Almost two years later, the video gathers dust, waiting on the wayward blueliner’s return. During the 2015-16 season, Daley played 29 games with the Hawks before they dealt him to the Penguins. While he was with Chicago, the Stars played both of their scheduled games against the Penguins, and Daley was shipped to Pittsburgh roughly a week before the Blackhawks and Stars played their first game of the season. This season, Daley faced the Stars in Pittsburgh on December 1. Due to his recent knee surgery, however, the defenseman isn’t on the trip to Dallas. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see the tribute video next year.
4) Ales Hemsky, Mattias Janmark and Adam Cracknell all took part in the Stars’ morning skate Tuesday. Afterward, Ruff said Hemsky is a possibility for Thursday’s game against the New York Islanders, Cracknell’s much improved, but still “a little ways away,” and Janmark is “not close.” The coach stressed the need to get Cracknell back healthy, rather than quickly, and indicated the Stars want to be particularly cautious with Janmark.
5) The Stars’ morning skate was an optional, so lines and defense pairs are anyone’s guess until pre-game line rushes tonight. Ruff did say he liked what he saw from the 12 forwards who played Sunday, so the lines might well be the same. With the trade of Jordie Benn, though, at least one d-pair will be different tonight.