Unsurprisingly, the Dallas Stars did not make a trade at the deadline to strengthen their shot at securing a playoff berth. General manager Jim Nill would’ve had a tough decision of trading a core player, and possibly a draft pick, to acquire one of the rental players on the market this year. To him, it wasn’t worth the risk.
Deadline Moves Not Worth the Risk
“It’s an exciting time but it can be a risky proposition, too,” Nill told The Athletic. “You really got to be careful, tread water with it. Everybody gets excited about adding a player. It’s not easy to make a trade and have a player come in and make an impact. That’s one part of the answer.” (From ‘Stars trade deadline: Sami Vatanen arrives, Jamie Oleksiak stays, health updates and more,’ The Athletic, April 12, 2021)
The Stars went into trade deadline day at an interesting crossroads. To coincide with a harsh, injury-prone season, in which they have lost 11 times in overtime, notable members of the team’s core remain at least two weeks away from returning. Nill confirmed via The Dallas Stars’ official Twitter account that goalie Ben Bishop and forward Tyler Seguin have a chance to return before the year ends. Dallas also has been without Alexander Radulov for most of the year. Radulov had 34 points in 60 regular-season games last year, plus an additional 18 points in 27 playoff games. He remains sidelined with rumors of season-ending surgery looming over his recent attendance at Stars’ morning practices.
The Stars currently sit in sixth place, six points out of fourth place, in the Discover Central Division with three games in hand. The hope is that Bishop and Seguin can return in a couple of weeks and contribute enough to elevate Dallas’ playoff hopes, better than any rental player that was dealt at the deadline. Seguin knows and thrives in Coach Rick Bowness’ play style, and players like Kyle Palmieri, traded to the Islanders, and Taylor Hall, traded to the Bruins, may take too long to adapt the game tempo in Dallas. Out of the 16 games remaining, Dallas faces the Red Wings, Blue Jackets, and Blackhawks 8 times — all three opponents are within 5 points of Dallas in the standings.
Despite the possible returns from injury, Nill went on to say that the reluctance to make a move at the deadline is influenced by the upcoming expansion draft. “You’ve got to be careful which players you pick up,” Nill told The Athletic. “If you pick up a player that is not an expiring contract, that can affect your expansion draft.”(From ‘Stars trade deadline: Sami Vatanen arrives, Jamie Oleksiak stays, health updates and more,’ The Athletic, April 12, 2021)
He said the expansion draft was the “biggest thing that came into play,” in browsing the market at the deadline. Dallas is currently in the midst of a youth movement with young stars Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson emerging as the team’s future core. Dallas can opt to protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie, or eight skaters (defense or offense) and one goalie before the expansion draft in July.
Claiming Vatanen Off Waivers
The one addition they did make to the team was a great one in Sami Vatanen. He has been mentioned in trade rumors over the past year because the New Jersey Devils decided to fully rebuild themselves and focus on surrounding their core with young, in-house talent. Vatanen was placed on waivers after a year of ups and downs. He had immigration trouble at the beginning of the season and was replaced on the powerplay.
Dallas needs the depth after Andrej Sekera went down with a lower-body injury in Sunday’s game. The 29-year old has struggled on New Jersey’s penalty kill, it was the worst in the league, but is an upgrade over Sekera and didn’t cost the Stars any draft capital. He also fits well as a third-line paring, matching his role in New Jersey.