Grading the Stars’ Trade for Max Domi

It’s been an arms race in the Eastern Conference but not so much in the West. The Vegas Golden Knights did acquire Ivan Barbashev from the St. Louis Blues, but for the most part, Western Conference teams have been the sellers. At least one team has stepped up, though. The Dallas Stars acquired Evgenii Dadonov from the Montreal Canadiens, and now they’ll be adding Max Domi to the mix after trading for him from the Chicago Blackhawks. Here are the full details:

Stars Receive:

Blackhawks Receive: 

With the Stars tight on cap space, they had to move Khudobin’s cap hit, which is $2,208,333, since it was buried in the American Hockey League (AHL) to fit in Domi’s $3 million cap hit. Dallas is getting an offensive upgrade with Domi, who has 18 goals and 49 points in 60 games this season. The caveat is his defensive game, which they’ll need to find ways to cover up. 

Stars Strengthen Scoring Depth

Someone other than the Stars is going to have to step up and be buyers in the Western Conference. That may change before today’s 3 PM deadline, but so far, the Stars are the only club to make notable additions in the West. With 79 points, they sit atop the Western Conference and have a legit chance to make the Stanley Cup Final. 

Domi should add a nice scoring boost to their second or third line. With 49 points, he’d be the Stars’ fifth-leading scorer, just behind Joe Pavelski. His 18 goals would also rank fourth, trailing Jamie Benn for third place. Domi’s been an efficient five-on-five scorer this season, averaging 1.90 points per 60 minutes, a rate you’d expect from a top-six forward. 

Related: 2023 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker

Latest News & Highlights

It also helps that Domi is versatile enough to play left wing or center. That seems to be something the Stars like, as they have forwards like Joe Pavelski, Tyler Seguin and even Roope Hintz, who can move around between the two positions. But given Domi’s defensive shortcomings, it’ll be interesting to see where head coach Pete DeBoer thinks he fits best.  

Related: THW’s 2023 Trade Grades

Domi isn’t an average or below-average defender; he’s one of the worst defensive forwards in the league. Over the last three seasons, his even-strength defense has been worth an expected goals above replacement (xGAR) of minus-14.8. Only Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane have been worse defensively. And the problem with moving him to the wing because of his defensive shortcomings is it takes away from his passing ability, which is his best skill set offensively:

The key for the Stars maximizing Domi as a rental is finding a way to minimize his defensive flaws as best as they can. Perhaps that means playing him at center with Seguin and Mason Marchment on his wings in a third-line role that sees them get cushy offensive minutes. If they can do that, the offensive upside should benefit them. 

Stars Grade: B

Blackhawks’ Fire Sale Almost Complete

There isn’t much to say about the Blackhawks’ end of things. In trading Domi, who was their best remaining scorer, they’re putting themselves in the best position possible to have the first overall pick to draft Connor Bedard in the 2023 draft. While Khudobin was once one of the top 1B goaltenders in the NHL, injuries have derailed his career over the last couple of years. He’s spent most of the 2022-23 season in the AHL with the Texas Stars, where he has a .899 save percentage. 

Max Domi Chicago Blackhawks
Newest Dallas Stars forward Max Domi (Photo by Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

At the moment, the Blackhawks have a tandem of Petr Mrazek and Alex Stalock in the NHL. Khudobin could see some time down the stretch since he has NHL experience and because the Blackhawks need to ice a roster. But let’s be clear; they acquired Khudobin to help the Stars free up cap space for Domi. 

Chicago also gets a second-round pick in 2025. In doing so, they now have eight second-round selections between the next three drafts. As mentioned in previous trade grade posts for sellers, having draft picks in bulk increases the chances of hitting on them. The Blackhawks have a boatload of draft choices over the next three years, so they’ve done this part of the rebuild correctly. Now it’s about turning the futures into NHL talent. 

Blackhawks Grade: B

* * *

Advanced stats from Natural Stat TrickEvolving Hockey