Starstud

Huge Stars fan - I mean beyond my control.From the days of Curt Giles and Dino Ciccarelli, to Mike Modano, and now the Jamie Benn era - "I've seen fire and I've seen rain I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend But I always thought that I'd see you again".

 

 

 

Rewinding this franchise all the way back to the mid 1970′s, the North Stars were just plain bad. There’s really no other way to put it, unless awful was your choice of wording. Much like our current version, the franchise missed the playoffs in five of six seasons from 1974 – 1979.

With an influx of talent through the draft though, the North Stars would quickly rebound and establish themselves as one of the more talented and entertaining teams in the league. Unfortunately, those North Star teams of the early to mid 1980′s are overshadowed in history by the New York Islanders and Edmonton Oilers. If not for ill-timing and running smack-dab in to two of the greatest dynasties of all-time, this franchise could easily boast another Stanley Cup or two.

Remarkably, ten players taken in the drafts between 1977 and 1980 became immediate contributors. That group would form a nucleus that helped carry the franchise to its first ever Stanley Cup appearance in 1981 – just three years after finishing dead last in the league with franchise lows in wins (18) and points (45).

 

1977

Second in the Smythe Division, and swept by the Buffalo Sabres in the best of three opening round.

THE DRAFT

Brad Maxwell (7th) – Maxwell quickly became a cornerstone on defense for the North Stars. He played 471 regular season games with the franchise, scoring 82 goals 307 points from the point – including a 1983-84 season when he racked up 73 of those points and was selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game.

 

1978

A putrid 18 wins and 45 points – good for dead last in the NHL.

THE DRAFT

Bobby Smith (1st) – Smith was a scoring sensation in juniors and carried that in to the NHL with the North Stars. He won the Calder trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 1979 and still holds the franchise record for points in a season with 114. Dealt to Montreal in 1983 after demanding a trade, he rejoined the North Stars in 1990 and was an integral part of that magical run to the Stanley Cup Final the following spring.

Steve Payne (19th) – Smith’s junior line mate in Ottawa, the two were also paired up right away in Minnesota. Payne was a goal scorer and had a knack for big ones – including the franchise’s only ever game 7 OT winner. He hit a career high 42 goals in his sophomore year and averaged just over 30 for his seven healthy seasons until injuries shortened his career.

Steve Christoff  (24th) – A member of the 1980 Miracle On Ice team, the Minnesota native made an instant impact. Joining the club after the Olympics, he banged home 8 goals and added 7 assists in 20 games. Despite playing just 56 and 69 games in the next two seasons respectively, he scored 26 goals in each. His career was short as he managed just 248 games, but his time with the North Stars was memorable.

Curt Giles (54th) – Small in stature at 5’8 175 lbs, the rugged defenseman put every ounce he had in to everything hie did. Not offensive by any means, he defended well and wasn’t afraid of anyone. He was a team leader – wearing both the “A” and the “C” for the franchise at different points in his career. Giles currently sits 7th all-time in franchise games played with 760. A personal favorite of mine, I still have that home jersey with #2 on the back that my grandparents bought me back in the mid 1980′s.

 

1979

Last in the Adams Division and bottom six in the league with 68 points.

The Draft 

Craig Hartsburg (6th) – Aside from Sergei Zubov, Harstburg is the most talented defenseman this franchise has ever seen. Internationally, he played on some of the best teams ever assembled, including that Gretzky-Lemieux led 1987 Canada Cup squad. Unfortunately for Hartsburg and the North Stars, his career was cut short due to injury and those ten seasons (four of them playing 32 or less games) were all he would manage.

Tom McCarthy (10th) – Lou Nanne stated in his book that McCarthy was the most talented player to ever have played for the North Stars. Whether he is or isn’t can be up for debate (Modano gets my vote), but Nanne is likely the best judge you’ll find regarding anything Minnesota. Another good player who’s career was unfortunately cut short, McCarthy averaged 30 goals every 80 regular season games as well as nearly a point per in his seven seasons with the franchise.

Neal Broten (42nd) – One of the franchise’s greatest and another member of that 1980 Miracle On Ice squad, Broten held the club’s all-time record for points; assists; and games played until Mike Modano hitched this franchise to his wagon. A fantastic playmaker with a bullet shot, Broten played a good all-round game. He’s won at every level: NCAA, the Olympics, and a Stanley Cup with New Jersey in 1995. Little known fact about the Minnesotan is that he was the first ever American born player to score 100 points in a season – hitting 105 with the North Stars back in 1986.

 

1980

Finishing 3rd in the Adams Division and 6th in the league with 88 points, the North Stars swept the Maple Leafs 3-0 in the opening round of the playoffs. They then shocked the hockey world by upsetting the defending champion Montreal Canadiens in a thrilling seven game series in the quarter finals. The train was stopped 4-1 by the 1st place powerhouse Philadelphia in the semis.

THE DRAFT

Brad Palmer (16th) – Palmer’s NHL career was extremely short, playing just 95 games with the North Stars and 73 with the Bruins. During his time with the franchise though he scored 26 regular season goals and was big for the team in that 1981 run to the Cup Final – scoring 8 goals and 13 points in 19 games.

Don Beaupre (37th) – Beaupre became one half of one of the better goaltending tandems in the league along with veteran Gilles Meloche. At age 19, he’s still the youngest goalie ever to start an NHL All-Star Game and in that rookie season of 1980-81 he finished 3rd in the Calder voting. He was the franchise’s 1st ever player of the month in February of 1986, and currently sits 6th on the Stars’ wins list with 126.

Dino Ciccarelli (undrafted) – I can’t possibly do this without including one of the greatest and most popular players in franchise history. Ciccarelli broke his leg  crashing in to the post in junior and was told he would never play again. Resilient, he kept going and the North Stars signed him as a free agent in 1980. He would score a rookie record 14 playoff goals and 21 points during that 1981 Cup run, and go on to bang home 332 goals in 602 regular season games during his time in Minnesota. Tied with Brian Bellows, he still holds the franchise record for goals in a season with 55. For those of you not fortunate enough to have seen Dino in his day (I myself was extremely young for his Minnesota days), imagine a slightly smaller Steve Ott with a major chip on his shoulder – averaging 45 goals and 90 points per season. Yeah, you woulda loved ol’ Dino.

 

After that miraculous run in 1981, the young North Stars would continue to win, going on to capture the franchise’s first two division titles and win at least one playoff round in four of the next five seasons – including an appearance in the Campbell Conference final in 1984. Truly one of the most talented squads this franchise has ever assembled and one of the better rides it’s ever been on.

 

Fast forward to now:

Being on a current run of five years with no playoffs, things seem to be turning around for this version of the Stars too. Over the last few years, the draft has provided the organization with a host of talent: Jamie Benn; Alex Chiasson; Jack Campbell; Jamie Oleksiak; Brett Ritchie; Radek Faksa; and now Valeri Nichushkin.

It seems there’s another great young nucleus being formed here, one that looks like it has every chance to rival the success of that North Stars team that had its backs up against the fires of hockey hell for years, then catapulted themselves forward so mightily they came ever-so-close to hockey heaven.

 

Thanks for reading. Comments appreciated. For all your Stars wants and needs, past present and future, find me on Twitter at travcurrie

 

 

 

 

The Dallas Stars did some major revamping so far this off season. From GM, to coach, to nice new green-based uniforms. But changes to the guys in suits and some fancy new threads on the ice won’t bring the once Dallas faithful back to the AAC, at least not for long.

There are definite holes to be filled in the actual lineup if the fellas wish to show that all the hoopla so far isn’t just for show (well okay the uniforms are for show). The Stars can’t go in to the 2013-14 season with the same lineup as last year and expect to improve. Isn’t that the definition of insanity?

There are options out there this summer – from free agents to trade targets – and Jim Nill and co. have been working the phones already to try to find the best of those options. With a nice chunk of money to play with, the Stars are in a position where they can afford to be the team that takes on the more salary in any deal – as well as outbid other teams for any free agent they feel is a good fit.

 


Vincent Lecavalier – The recently bought out 33 year old Vinny Lecavalier would be a good temporary fix for he Stars down the middle. Despite seemingly falling off the map the last few seasons, he can still put up decent numbers (32 points in 39 games this passed season). He’s a big body and uses his size well creating space and fighting for pucks. Would go well centering either scoring line as well as the power play. Moving to a new team after all of his 14 seasons being spent in Tampa Bay could give him something to prove.

The Stars are one of several teams said to be interested, and have already had talks with the Lecavalier camp.

 


Daniel Briere – Also bought out this passed week, Briere is another who is on the downside of his career but can still be effective. Playing for Lindy Ruff in Buffalo for four seasons is a nice tie with the Stars new coach. He had his career best offensive output under Ruff (95 points in 06-07) and although those numbers are likely out of reach for the 35 year old Briere, he’s only two years removed from scoring 68 points in 77 games with the Flyers. His playoff resume is far more impressive than what some may realize too. In a day and age where even a point per game is tough to achieve (especially in the playoffs), Briere has 109 points in 108 games over his career.

To sum up his career – never count the little guy out.

 

Sam Gagner – I may be a little biased towards Sam as his father Dave was a favorite of mine when I was a kid (I still have my Dave Gagner North Stars home jersey from 1989 to prove it), but Gagner Jr. is on the rise. He may never be a number one center or an All-Star like his dad, but like Dave he may just need to throw on that Stars jersey to truly break out. Dave was a high draft pick by the Rangers in 1983 and was never really given a shot in New York. It wasn’t until a trade to the North Stars a few years later that his career took off.

Sam himself was a high draft pick and although he’s been a regular with the Oilers from age 18, the now 23 year old and already six year veteran is being overshadowed a little in Edmonton by the newer exciting youngsters. His size means Edmonton goes with two small centers on their scoring lines and although they like Sam, it’s a bit of an issue. The Oilers are bent on making the playoffs next year so a defenseman or a veteran forward who could help them achieve that could help pry him away. They’d likely need to have a plan in place to replace his spot on the second line too before they dealt him.

Like his dad, he’s a leader and a hard worker – as evident by his off season dedication to strength and conditioning last summer. Don’t let anybody fool you in to believing that any recent rise in his numbers has to do with team mates, it’s all Sam.

 

Sean Couturier/Brayden Schenn – The two budding stars coming over to the Flyers two summers ago via trade (Couturier in the form of a draft pick) give youth and depth to the lineup and help secure the future in Philadelphia. But as we all know, patience is not Paul Holmgren’s middle name. That’s not to say he’s in a rush to deal either of the young centers, but he’s not shy when it comes to pulling the trigger if he believes there’s a deal that can help put his team over the top. In this case, over the top would mean getting back to the playoffs.

Both players will demand big raises after next season and as Philly continually flirts with the cap, that could pose an issue. Receiving one of the two in a deal could mean taking on one of Philly’s unwanted contract as well (depending on what’s sent back in return), but youth and skill is what the Stars need and having one of these two at center could mean stability down the middle for a long time. The only real issue here is that neither are all that proven.

 

Tyler Seguin – Would the Bruins already part with their “consolation prize” in the Taylor vs Tyler Sweepstakes? Most would say not a chance, but most don’t have a say. It’s already being reported that the Bruins would like to get in on the first round action of what’s labeled as the best draft since 2003. The Bruins are also a team that entered the off season with decisions to be made. Those decisions involve money, and Seguin makes a fair bit himself already at $5.75 million per starting next season.  With 121 points in his first 203 regular season NHL games (keep in mind being sheltered for a good portion of those), his numbers could rise if given the opportunity.

Seguin is naturally a center and being just 21, he’s exactly what the Stars covet. He won’t come cheap though.

 

Jeff Skinner – The Hurricanes are another team that’s not far off the cap and still needs to round out the roster. They’re currently looking for a solid top four defenseman and the Stars could possibly fool them by sending over Trevor Daley or Alex Goligoski disguised as one instead…….

Okay in all seriousness, Daley himself has a very manageable contract and is a serviceable defenseman with a great set of wheels. The Hurricanes could very well see the value in that. The Stars would have to add for sure, as Skinner is just 21 years old and with three seasons under his belt already, he averages 57 points per 82 game season when pro rated. His $5.7 million cap hit for the next six seasons is something the Stars could absorb. The two sides have talked and striking a deal of some kind is not something I would completely rule out.

 

Valtteri Filppula – Filppula looks to be hitting the open market July 5, and those looking to guess where he’ll land could make worse guesses than the Stars. Obviously the connection here is with GM Jim Nill, who spent nearly 20 years in the Red Wings organization as assistant GM before being hired by the Stars this spring. He knows Filppula well and vice versa.

The 29 year old center enjoyed a breakout year with the Wings in 2011-12, scoring 23 goals and adding 43 assists in 81 games. The belief is that given more opportunity he could achieve those numbers again. He’s highly skilled and shows creativity in the offensive zone, and has learned the typical puck-possession and two-way style the Wings demand. There will likely be a handful of teams knocking on Filppula’s door once free agency hits, and should the Stars be in that group Nill could be the key.

 

Stephen Weiss – Maybe not the sexy pickup, but Weiss could come at little cost as far as trade (for his rights) and could fill in as a second line center quite nicely. The 30 year old has put up some decent numbers in Florida over the years, averaging around 25 goals and 55 points over the three seasons before the lockout. He managed only 17 games this shortened season as a wrist injury cut his season even shorter. It’s been confirmed that the Stars, as well as the Leafs and Wings have all shown interest in Weiss, and it would require a draft pick in order to obtain his negotiating rights before he hits the open market July 5.

Weiss isn’t big, at 5 “11 190 pounds, but he plays a nice two way game and can move up and down the ice well.

 

Thanks for reading. Comments appreciated. Check me out on Twitter at travcurrie

 

 

 

Well, it’s possible there’s cigars but there is no coach. Not yet anyways.

The Dallas Stars had their man pegged and they pursued him hard. Former Canucks bench boss Alain Vigneault was the top choice and it came down to the wire.

The Stars had a five year contract on the table for him all week, all he had to do was sign on the dotted line. The New York Rangers were in the hunt too for a new coach and also targeted Vigneault. But GM Glen Sather was leaning towards Mark Messier and with dissension among Rangers’ brass on what was going on, Vigneault gave a Friday deadline for them to get their big apples in order.

On Thursday it looked like Sather would get his way and Messier would become the man with the Rangers once again, though in a different capacity obviously.

Vigneault to Dallas then, right?

Not so fast.

Unfortunately for Jim Nill and co., the Rangers re-considered and yesterday opted for Vigneault after all. He apparently left some money on the table signing with New York, but while one team has been an annual playoff performer and the other hasn’t seen post season action in five long years, who can fully blame him? You could say that at least someone in this business made money second priority for a change.

Naming your coach is a big deal and the Stars haven’t made a good hire at the position in eleven years. At the end of the day though, the talent that management can put on the ice will have the biggest effect on the overall success. The Stars will have to continue the hunt and despite losing out on their guy, there are other good coaches available.

Long time Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, and the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill seem to be the leading candidates at this point.

 

Thanks for reading. Comments appreciated. Check me out on Twitter at travcurrie

 

My sources say Jim Nill has his preference for the Stars’ new bench boss in his sights, and Alain Vigneault is that man. The New York Rangers have also been in talks with Vigneault as the two sides met up Tuesday. It’s worth mentioning that the Rangers have also been considering Mark Messier to fill the void left by the firing of John Tortorella.

It’s doing proper diligence for Jim Nill to set up meetings with other candidates in case Vigneault and the Rangers do come to an agreement. Definitely other options out there should this not go the Stars’ way, but Vigneault is the first choice.

With Tom Gaglardi purchasing the team in 2011 and Nill being named GM in April, the Stars are now a team that can offer stability. The Rangers on the other hand could possibly face some shuffling up top in the near future and that of course is cause for uncertainty. Though the Rangers can also offer a team that has consistently been a playoff performer unlike the Stars, who have missed five years straight.

Definitely things for Vigneault to weigh over the next couple days.

 

Thanks for reading. Comments appreciated. Check me out on Twitter at travcurrie

 

 

The popular belief is that the blueprint to success is drafting that elite player atop the prospect heap to lead the charge. Without a doubt the Pittsburgh Penguins are the main root of the belief – and rightfully so. Drafting Marc-Andre Fleury; Evgeni Malkin; Sidney Crosby; and Jordan Staal from 2002 to 2006 certainly bodes well for the argument. The Blackhawks’ rise to the elite class of the league since drafting Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane (drafted 3rd in 2006 and 1st 2007 respectively) helps as well.

But is that the only way to do it? Are the Stars doomed unless they can somehow sneak in to the top five at this year’s draft and grab that elite talent? It would certainly help, no doubt, but there’s a very solid argument out there that says they can make out just fine without.

With four Stanley Cups and two more Cup Final appearances since 1995, the Detroit Red Wings can be compared to almost any dynasty from the past when taking all circumstances in to account. They’ve been as good as it gets in this day and age, being led recently by players like Niklas Lidstrom (drafted 53rd in 1989), Pavel Datsyuk (drafted 171st in 1998), and Henrik Zetterberg (drafted 210th in 1999).

If you want to argue that three of their cups were raised in the days of free spending, they do still have 2008 and once again proved to be a very relevant team this year. There are also more current examples of teams reaching the pinnacle of hockey without hitching their wagons to a fleet of thoroughbreds taken early in the draft. As current as one of this year’s finalists and the last two Stanley Cup champs.

Looking at the the last two Stanley Cup champions and the key cogs to their respective runs:

 

2012 Los Angeles Kings

  • Dustin Brown – drafted 14th in 2003
  • Anze Kopitar – drafted 11th in 2005
  • Jonathan Quick – drafted 72nd in 2005
  • Drew Doughty – drafted 2nd in 2008
  • Justin Williams – via trade in 2009
  • Mike Richards – via trade in 2011*
  • Jeff Carter – via trade in 2012

*2009 5th overall pick Brayden Schenn was the main piece the Kings sent to Philadelphia for Mike Richards.

2011 Boston Bruins

  • Tim Thomas – via free agency 2002
  • Patrice Bergeron – drafted 45th in 2003
  • David Krejci – drafted 63rd in 2004
  • Zdeno Chara – via free agency in 2006
  • Milan Lucic – drafted 50th in 2006
  • Brad Marchand – drafted 71st in 2006
  • Nathan Horton – via trade in 2010

 

Those lists are not exactly filled with high draft picks – but a mixture of smart draft picks, proper development, and key additions either by trade or free agency. Drew Doughty is the lone example there of a top five draft pick making an impact.

The Bruins’ roster is virtually the same as it was in 2011, with Tuukka Rask between the pipes instead of Thomas being the only difference of note. Rask himself was acquired via trade from the Maple Leafs in 2006. The Bruins recently disposed of the talent laden Pittsburgh Penguins in four straight and will face the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final beginning Wednesday. Rock solid proof that mining your talent with high picks in the draft is not the only route to success.

Could the Stars be helped by adding a player like Nathan MacKinnon or Jonathan Drouin to their group of forwards at the draft? You bet your ass. It would be foolish to suggest otherwise. Can they build a winner by Jim Nill and co. making smart acquisitions and developing their own prospects properly? You can bet your ass on that too. Whether it happens or not is the only question.

 

Thanks for reading. Comments are appreciated. Check me out on Twitter at travcurrie

 

 

 

The Stars have been pretty up and down this season – looking like a playoff caliber team one week only to look like a lottery team the next.

So which one will management view this team as now that the 2013 trade deadline is just days away?

Obviously the goal at the start of the season was to make the playoffs. With less than a month to go in the regular season, that goal is within reach. But should that still be the primary focus?

Playoffs would be nice, but…

Too often GM’s let delusions of grandeur get in the way.  ”All you need to do is get to the dance”, or, “The playoffs are a brand new season”. Save the cliches, please. That Cinderella run back in 1991 was nothing short of amazing and I cherish those childhood memories, but it’s much better to build something lasting like our teams of the late 1990′s and early 2000′s.

This is an opportunity for this franchise to make some real moves for the future. Trading Brenden Morrow to the Penguins last week for 20 year old defenseman Joe Morrow was a heckuva start, and it’s the exact kind of deal management should be seeking for the other veterans who are not in the long term plans.

You can’t go out and sign good prospects (Brenden Dillon being the exception), but you can sign veterans in the off season that can be traded for them. So whether acquired last summer (Jagr for example) or long time fixtures (Morrow), none should be exempt when it comes to sacrificing for the the future core.

The worst thing this team could do is forego anymore veteran sell-offs in hopes of a miracle run, then go on to win enough to miss out on a  high draft pick but lose enough to miss the playoffs once again. That ladies and gentlemen is purgatory. We’ve managed to add some high end prospects in Jack Campbell and Jamie Oleksiak drafting from that area recently, but there’s a glaring need for a top end skilled forward and typically the best ones are plucked by then.

Now I’m not suggesting this team wave the white flag or lie down and play dead, I’m suggesting that in the next few days management really sets precedence on long term stability and success rather than the possibility of a few short term hurrahs – then let the chips fall where they may.

 

Thanks for reading. Comments very much appreciated. Check me out on Twitter at travcurrie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the years we’ve seen the likes of Mike Modano, Derian Hatcher, and Neal Broten pack their bags for new destinations – and now another warrior who for years has pumped blood through the very veins of the Dallas Stars organization is saying goodbye.

Brenden Morrow is on his way to Pittsburgh along with a 3rd round draft pick, for 20 year old defense prospect Joe Morrow and a 5th round pick.

Morrow (Brenden that is) made his NHL debut with the Stars in November of 1999.  A call-up from Michigan of the AHL, his youthful ignition and instant grasp of the Stars’s style of game made it impossible not to keep him around. He stuck with the big club and played a role in the Stars’ return to the final in his first taste of playoff action in spring of 2000. He even earned himself top-line minutes at times that season – quite an accomplishment for a rookie on a veteran laden roster fresh off a Stanley Cup victory.

Plenty of big goals and plenty of big hits since, Morrow has been an absolute warrior for the Stars over the years. His most memorable moments coming in that 2008 playoff run – where he went beast mode on both the Ducks and Sharks to lead the Stars to the conference finals. He has sacrificed his body for nearly a decade and a half for this franchise and has earned every single stitch that has held that letter “C”  on the front of his jersey since 2006.

But with his contract set to expire this summer and management making it obvious that the old guard has seen it’s day, Morrow being moved to a contender was inevitable. And with what he can still bring to a team looking at a deep playoff run; physicality, versatility, and still a decent a scoring touch, it made him the perfect trade candidate.

Milan Michalek may not remember the damage Morrow inflicted that spring of 2008, but the Pittsburgh Penguins must. They know darn well what they’re getting.

Drafted 25th overall in 1997, he leaves the Stars with the following credentials on the franchise’s all-time list:

7th in goals – 243 (tied with Jere Lehtinen)

4th in PIMs – 1,203

8th in points – 528

5th in games played – 835

 

The Return

Who is Joe Morrow?

Drafted 23rd by the Penguins in 2010, Joe Morrow’s maturity and all-round ability nearly had him on the Penguins roster out of his first training camp in 2011. He played his junior career with Portland of the WHL where he became a force on the Winterhawks’ blueline – scoring 17 goals and 64 points over 62 games in his final year. He’s played this season on the Penguin’s farm club in Wilkies-Barre, scoring 4 goals and 15 points in 57 games.

He’s a rugged, mobile player who can do it all and should be a centerpiece on the Stars’ defense core in the future. Not to mention he’s an Alberta boy, and you can’t go wrong with that.

As sad as it is to see him go, this is the exact type of move the Stars needed to make. Here’s hoping there’s more to come between now and the April 3 deadline.

 

Thanks for reading. Comments more than welcome. Find me on Twitter at travcurrie

 

The Stars swapped veteran goal scoring wingers with the Canadiens today, shipping Michael Ryder out and bringing Erik Cole in.

Ryder was signed as a UFA on July 1, 2011. He exploded for a career high last season with 35 goals, finding chemistry with Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson for most of the season. The first time in five years he hit the 30 goal mark – the previous being 30 goals in 2006-07 during his first stint with the Habs. He’s been quietly putting together another good offensive season so far with 6 goals and 14 points in the Stars’ 19 games.

The only issue was what to do with him. He’s scheduled to become a UFA in the summer and likely wants something longer than just another two year contract. With the current gradual youth movement going on in Dallas, they likely weren’t willing to go beyond that – something like the Sheldon Souray situation. It’s also possible Ryder just wasn’t interested in re-signing in Dallas at all.

Enter Erik Cole. It may seem like the deal doesn’t make sense. Trade one veteran for an older one (Cole being 34, Ryder turning 33 on March 31)? It likely has something to do with the fact that Cole is already locked in for those two years – no more. So essentially the just re-signed a veteran winger for two more seasons at $4 million per.

Cole has been a streaky scorer over the years, much like Ryder. They’ve put up pretty similar numbers over their careers and also like Ryder, he hit a career high 35 goals last season. However, he’s struggled to put up numbers in his 19 games so far, finding the twine just 3 times and chipping in another 3 assists. But he brings more speed and size, and plays more of a power game  as opposed to the perimeter sniper that Ryder is. Hopefully a change of scenery gets him going again offensively to make this “re-signing” worth it. It’s no secret that nobody was enjoying his presence in Montreal this season, Cole included.

It should be noted that Cole is friends with Ray Whitney and Mark Recchi – all winning the Stanley Cup together in Carolina. That possibly played a role in things.

I think it’s clear the Stars are prepared to go forward with at least some older guys in the lineup, as opposed to a complete rebuild. Which is fine, but personally I preferred a deadline deal for some youth. Something like the Riberio for Eakin deal.

The Stars also sent a 3rd round pick Montreal’s way.

 

Thanks for reading. Check me out on Twitter at travcurrie

 

 

 

 

There are three ways to acquire assets: via free agency, via draft, and via trade. Some teams attract the big name free agents – the Dallas Stars aren’t that team. Some have had the fortune (if you want to call it that) of drafting high enough to add high end talent to their lineup to build around immediately – the Dallas Stars haven’t been that team.

They’ve remained in or around the middle of the pack for some time now and although they’ve been able to add some nice pieces, the high end talent in the prospect pool runs a little thin after the top three or so, especially at the forward position.

So how do they go about adding to the future core of this team?

Regardless of how you want to rate the current prospect pool, and it does have its gems, the fact is there are some veterans on the current roster that are not and should not be in the team’s long term plans. They could be flipped in to younger talent.

 

Brenden Morrow – Years of sacrificing his body has caught up to him, and he’s just not the same. Even if that’s the case, his reputation still follows him so you can bet there would be teams interested in adding a warrior like that for a long playoff run. He’s scheduled to be a UFA at the end of the season and at age 34, he’s likely not in for another long term contract. What he has left in the tank to offer this team over say the next couple years should he be re-signed, may not match the value of what he could bring in return via trade. Is it finally time to part ways? Morrow has a NTC so he has a say in that too.

Michael Ryder – A good signing by Joe prior to last season, Ryder has brought his goal scoring prowess to the Stars and has rounded out the top six nicely. He’s worked well with Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson, but has yet to really find his game this season playing mostly with new center Derek Roy. He’ll be 33 at the end of March and like Morrow, is scheduled to become a UFA. He still has his shot and would definitely help round out someone else’s top six, or even just add some scoring depth like he did so well with Boston when they won it in 2011.

Jaromir Jagr – I know I know, trade Jagr? Well, let’s be realistic here. If this team isn’t in a playoff position come deadline, what do they need him for? He likely attracts the most offers out of anyone. He’s only signed on for this season and at age 41, will he even want to come back ? He’s still in phenomenal shape and by all accounts can still play, not to mention the experience  and work ethic he’s brought is invaluable and should leave an ever lasting impression on the youngsters. I’m certainly not opposed to keeping him around and re-signing him if he wants to return, but that’s something that he and management will have to discuss ahead of time.

Ray Whitney – Like Jagr, his experience and work ethic is appreciated and he can still play the game. He was also brought in to round out the top six and help with the power play. The 40 year old is currently on IR with a broken bone in his foot, but has been productive in his eight games so far notching two goals and six points. It’s unlikely he goes anywhere as he is signed for another year and there really isn’t any top six talent pounding on the door to take his spot.

Stephane Robidas – He’s given his heart and soul to this  franchise for the better part of his career, but he’ll be 36 on March 3 and could attract takers come deadline. Defensemen are always a sought after commodity for any playoff team and Robidas should be that. Like Whitney, he still has another year left on his contract and that means he wouldn’t be just a rental for any potential trade partner. That also means management will have to decide if he has a place on this team come next season or if it’s time to turn the page. His return likely wouldn’t be substantial so barring this team really derailing, it could be more worth it to keep him around at least for the rest of the season then re-evaluating in the off season.

 

This is not a knee-jerk reaction to just blowing a 3-1 third period lead to Calgary. I’m certainly not suggesting we fold our tent or completely decimate the roster of its veterans and void any potential miracle run. This is about evaluating and being one step ahead of the game – turning assets in to assets rather than letting them diminish or disappear in to thin air.

The likes of Jamie Benn; Jack Campbell; Jamie Oleksiak; and Cody Eakin, will need others like them to be on board if the Stars are going to compete with teams currently ahead of them in the young talent department. And those “others” have to be acquired somehow. For the Stars, turning older assets in to younger ones (Mike Ribeiro for Cody Eakin for example) could very well be its saving grace.

Whether this team is barely in or barely out come trade deadline on April 3, Joe and co. absolutely have to do their diligence and weigh out what a player can still bring versus what he can bring via trade. The only real problem is, this team hasn’t played a playoff game in five years and trading away veterans if a playoff position seems attainable won’t go over well with anyone.

Tough decisions will need to be made, regardless.

 

Thanks for reading. Comments always appreciated. Check me out on Twitter at travcurrie

 

 

 

 

When my older brother and I were kids our dad took us to an NHL All-Star practice. Admittedly, almost as exciting as the practice itself was not having to go to school that day as the practice was in the afternoon. It was 1989 and the game was being held in Edmonton that year.

I look at the roster to see all the names on the both the Campbell Conference and Wales Conference rosters and I’m absolutely astounded at the star power that was on the ice all at once – and we were right there to witness it. A young Brett Hull playing in his first All-Star game; Wayne Gretzky; Mario Lemieux; Steve Yzerman; Mark Messier; Pat Lafontaine; Ray Bourque; and our very own Dino Ciccarelli just to name a few. We were fairly young but I remember we were in complete awe, and all these years later I’m very thankful to my dad for the experience.

And now we have Jaromir Jagr – a player who sits 8th on the all-time points list throwing on the black and gold for likely just this one season – and a shortened season at that. With the 48 game schedule, that gives Stars fans just 24 chances to witness live one of the greatest players to play the game in what could possibly be his very last go-round. Of course that’s not counting any possible missed games, or any added games should the Stars make the playoffs.

Obviously we know he isn’t in his prime – as so many feel the need to point out. He’s not the kid with the wicked mullet putting up a point and a half per game anymore, but that’s not what anybody in the organization was expecting when he was signed. As we saw last season though with Philadelphia in his return to the NHL after a three year hiatus, the man can still play. He can still protect the puck probably better than anyone, he can still deke a goalie out of his shorts, and he can still make plays that will make you say “Whoa!”.

With his 19 goals and 54 points in 73 regular season games, he would have placed 5th on the Stars in points and 4th in goals. He also added 8 points in 11 playoff games. And coming to a team that will depend on him even more than what the Flyers did, it’s possible those numbers go up. He’s a definite upgrade to the top six and should help a power play that was 25th in the league last year at a woeful 13.3%. He was dominating the league playing for his hometown Kladno during the lockout scoring 24 goals and 57 points in 34 games – so I expect he’s fully ready to go and in great shape as usual.

Jaromir Jagr is what you call a generational player, and when it’s all said and done his name will be placed among the greatest who have ever played this game. He’s a guaranteed first ballot Hall of Famer and players like him just don’t come around too often. To put it in to perspective, this franchise is now 46 years old and has produced just one player who can even be placed in the same conversation as Jagr – and I don’t need to tell you who that is. As players like that retire from this game, we wish we could see them play just one more time.

So get out there and take advantage Stars fans. Take your kids if you got em too, so that 20+ years from now they can look back and say that they saw one of the greatest players to ever lace em up – and they saw him in a Stars uniform. It will mean something, trust me.

 

Thanks for reading. Check me out on Twitter at travcurrie

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