There are 28 games left in the Dallas Stars’ season, but the next nine in the schedule will play a big part in determining their approach to the trade deadline and their postseason fate.
February is more than just a busy month for the Stars with 13 games and three sets of back-to-backs. It is the month in which the Stars will have to take a realistic look at whether or not they expect to make the playoffs. Their analysis will determine how they approach the trade deadline in preparation for the final stretch of the regular season and the offseason.
A Closer Look at the Schedule Leading up to the Deadline
There are 19 days until the trade deadline, and the Stars have nine games in that span. Of the nine games, five are at home. There are two sets of back-to-backs, which have troubled the Stars for years now. This season, the Stars have done a bit better, but they still carry a 4-4-2 record.
Five of Dallas’ games left before the trade deadline are against playoff teams, but the other four are against teams in the thick of the battle for a wild card spot. Basically, there are no games for the Stars to look past and no trap games for them to suffer as they did against the Buffalo Sabres last Saturday.
The critical aspect of the nine game stretch is that the Stars play five games against division opponents. They are 3-6-3 against the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets this season. Against all eight of their opponents before the trade deadline (they play the Avalanche twice), the Stars have a dismal 3-8-4 record.
The Contract Situation
According to nhlnumbers.com, the Stars have six players on the NHL roster who will be unrestricted free agents after this season and three who will be restricted free agents. Two are seasoned veterans (Erik Cole and Shawn Horcoff) and two are strong depth players (Patrick Eaves and David Schlemko), which are important roles for postseason play. If Stars management doesn’t see the postseason as a strong possibility, it would be best get something for whichever of the aged veterans or grinders with an expiring contract the Stars don’t expect to bring back since teams could look to add those players for their playoff run.
As of Wednesday morning, the Stars were three points out of the last wild card spot in the Western Conference, but the Avalanche, Wild and Los Angeles Kings are right there in the bubble also and all within six points of the final playoff spot. If the Stars want to be buyers at the deadline, they will need to string together a winning streak and overcome their back-to-back struggles to push up the table before the deadline. The next nine games will tell us a lot about the Stars and how they will be set up for the postseason and beyond.