Just over a year ago, the NHL Trade Deadline was pretty quiet for the Dallas Stars. They were fighting desperately to stay in the playoff race. Therefore, it was a bit of let down when the Stars didn’t acquire any immediate help.
Instead they traded a reliable veteran forward who was having one of the best seasons of his career. The Stars traded Erik Cole and a conditional pick (2015 third round) for prospects Mattias Janmark, Mattias Backman and a 2015 second round pick.
Ideally in a win-win scenario, Erik Cole would have helped Jim Nill’s former team the Detroit Red Wings, make a deep playoff run, while the Stars would reap the benefit of one or two prospects developing into future NHL regulars.
Former Stars Forward Erik Cole is Injured
Unfortunately, for the Red Wings it didn’t quite work out that way. Erik Cole played just 11 games for Detroit before suffering a spinal contusion. The 37-year-old Oswego, New York native had previously injured his neck in a game back in 2006. Doctors have advised Cole against playing again and he is following their instructions.
Meanwhile the Stars were pleasantly surprised when Mattias Janmark had an outstanding preseason camp. The plan was for Janmark to go back to Sweden for another year of development and reassess things later. The problem was Janmark was so good already that it made no sense for him not to stick around.
Another Calder Sleeper for the Stars?
If it were a down Calder season, Janmark might already be considered a top contender for Rookie of the Year honors. Or as my THW colleague Jordan Dix wrote “How One Star Can Crash the Calder Trophy Party” maybe his Star will shine bright enough for an NHL Awards invite this summer.
Janmark, 23, from Stockholm, Sweden has 10 goals and 10 assists and is a plus 14 in 55 games with the Stars. He’s also been versatile enough to play center and wing while filling in on lines 2-4.
Mattias Janmark becomes 5th double digit goal scorer on the @DallasStars, joining Benn, Seguin, Sharp, & Spezza. Nice company for the rookie
— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) January 16, 2016
He’s made quite an impression with teammates as well. Recently Stars forward Patrick Sharp gushed about Janmark’s game with Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News “He’s a great skater, great player,” Sharp said. “He seems to make his linemates better. He’s good in all areas. He thinks the game well, and distributes the puck well.”
A New Star is Rising
Mattias Backman hasn’t exactly been a slouch either. As a rookie for the Texas Stars in the American Hockey League, Backman is a plus 23 through 45 games. He leads Texas in plus/minus and is 4th overall among AHL defensemen. He also has 5 goals and 16 assists with Texas.
The 24-year-old native of Sweden stands 6’3, but could add a little more brisket to his 185 pound frame. The high plus/minus rating is no accident as Backman led the Swedish league last season at plus 25.
Stars Prospect Wins Gold
Lastly, Stars 2015 second round pick Roope Hintz helped his homeland of Finland win gold at this year’s World Junior tournament in Helsinki, Finland. Hintz a 19-year-old left-wing had 3 goals and 1 assist in the tournament. So far this season playing for HIFK Helsinki of SM-liiga he has 3 goals and 9 assists in 23 games.
The Stars will be patient with Hintz. He is already 6’3 but like Backman would benefit by adding to his 185 pound frame.
If Erik Cole had not been injured and instead contributed to a Cup run for the Red Wings, I think this would have been a win-win. Instead it will be another check in the win column for Stars general manager Jim Nill.
Best wishes for healthy future to former Stars forward Erik Cole.