With the 2012 NHL trade deadline in the past, the Dallas Stars made no changes to their roster. Over the course of the past few weeks, the rumors surrounding the team had the Stars at one point as buyers and then sellers and then buyers again–Dallas was, ultimately, neither.
Nevertheless, Dallas did not stand out in their inaction–this was one of the strangest trade deadlines in years. The lack of big-name trades (Did I hear that correctly? Was Andrei Kostitsyn the biggest acquisition at the deadline?) made this trade deadline wholly anticlimactic. For starters, analysts talked about Rick Nash ad nauseum during the past two months, and it seemed every team made a pitch for him, only to have him stay in Columbus. Most of the substantial trades occurred in the three weeks leading up to the deadline, with the Jeff Carter-Jack Johnson trade being one of the biggest.
Before the Stars began to hit a funk, that has encompassed most of the 2012 calendar year thus far, the Stars were in the hunt for a playoff spot. At that point, the Stars would have been considered a buyer in the trade market; however, poor play, especially since the All-Star break, changed the outlook in Dallas. Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk only made one move that came on February 16th, when the Stars dealt defenseman Nicklas Grossman to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2012 second-round draft pick and a 2013 third-round pick. At that point, with the Stars slowly
sliding out of the playoff picture, it seemed Dallas was not in fact a buyer any longer, but a seller. Dallas appeared to be willing to move foundational components of the team, even franchise players such as Steve Ott and Mike Ribeiro appeared to be on the chopping block. With these names and other members on the Dallas roster on the trade market, the Stars began to play some of their best hockey in the past two months. That streak crescendoed with the Stars recent 3-2 OT victory over the Western Conference leading Vancouver Canucks, in which the Stars tied the game with an extra skater and one minute left in regulation. That game-tying goal showed the offensive sight of Alex Goligoski, who rifled a shot-pass to Ribeiro, who had a nifty deflection past Roberto Luongo. The overtime winner showed the artistic passing work by Steve Ott and Trevor Daley, which culminated with a cross-crease pass to Loui Erikkson who had a wide-open net to bury the winner. The terrific offensive work had the Stars looking like their earlier-season selves. Hopefully, the Stars can continue to build off their recent success.
Nieuwendyk cited the team’s recent success as influencing management’s inaction at the deadline, “I think it made it challenging [to make a big trade] in the last few weeks, too, with the way our team has performed and that’s a good thing, because they really stepped up and shown they were here for the fight.”
The Stars, who were sinking into 10th place in the West, suddenly find themselves in sole possession of 8th place and within three points of the 6th seed. Although the Stars are playing well right now, it should be viewed overall as a disappointment that the Stars were unable to improve their roster at the deadline. Trading away Ott or Ribeiro would have been destabilizing for the franchise, but the Stars need depth on their blue line as well as with some forward positions. In fact, the only trade the Stars made dealt away a defenseman, which further depleted their blue-line depth. The fact that the Stars did not ship one of their key players away is positive news, but acquiring no players, especially for one of the draft picks they acquired in the Grossman deal, is unsatisfactory. Depth has been a consistent problem for the Stars over the course of the past three of four seasons. The team has steadily been in the position where one or two injuries usually means a losing streak. Come playoff time, if the Stars are able to clinch a berth, injuries are a foregone conclusion for every team.
It is worth noting, however, the importance of Stars management not taking a large risk at the deadline, which could hurt the team down the road. It seems that too often teams will roll the dice on a perilous move and only regret it later on. In the end, the Stars roster was not shattered, but, nevertheless, management could have done more to improve the roster, especially considering the erosion of blue-line depth with the Grossman deal.
Dallas Stars Trade-Deadline Grade: C-
Tim lives in Dallas, TX, and serves as a Dallas Stars correspondent for the Sunbelt Hockey Journal. He has professional sportswriting and editing experience in print and online media.