Archive for the ‘Dallas Stars’ Category

Defending Big D covers the Dallas Stars end of the draft

June 23, 2009

The last season was something of a disaster for the Dallas Stars. We all know about the Sean Avery debacle, but the season itself was riddled with injuries and disappointment. After an exciting run to the Western Conference Finals, the Stars didn’t even make the playoffs.

Still, with the emergence of Loui Eriksson and rookie James Neal, the Stars actually have some promising young talent developing. This is also the first time in quite a while in which the Stars have a top-10 draft pick.

In order to find out more, we decided to call upon Defending Big D to tell us more about the Stars upcoming draft. We’re big fans of DBD. Not only are they great bloggers, but they also allowed us to be lazier and not have to talk about breaking Stars news at Battle of California. Brandon, you’re a swell guy.

Anyway, make sure to follow Defending Big D‘s Stars coverage.

1. With one of their best draft picks in ages at #8, what direction should the Stars go in? Are there any prospects – who realistically could be around at no. 8 – that you have your eyes on in particular?

It’s tough to say exactly which the direction the Stars should go. The #8 pick is starting to shape into a “tweener” pick, where the Stars could trade down to 10-15, get value in return and still draft the guy they wanted. They are also in position to possibly trade up a few spots to pick someone they have their eye on. Yet with there being a seemingly even talent after the #3 spot until around 15 or so, making sure you get good value for the pick you do make won’t be tough.

It’s also hard to say exactly which direction the Stars will go, forward or defenseman. Les Jackson (who will be running the draft) has stated several times that the Stars will pick whoever is at the top of their draft board with their selection comes up. What position or player that is makes no difference; the Stars are going for the best player available. How true they stick to the plan depends on what happens in front of them. The Islanders could truly shake things up if they pick Matt Duchene, if the rumors are true. That could lead to an incredible domino effect in the top ten, and the Stars could be in position to make a move for either a Magnus Paajarvi-Svenssen, or Jared Cowen, both players that are expected to be gone by #8.

The key of course, will be to not reach with that eighth pick. There are a number of players that would fit perfectly for the Stars system that could be available at 12-15. My eyes are on Jordan Schroeder, Ryan Ellis, Dmitry Kulikov and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Those are all players that could either be picked at #8 or #16. Personally, I like Ekman-Larsson the best since he has the most upside of any defenseman in the draft. Some are wary of him because he’s only become known in the past year and he will most likely not be NHL ready for 2-3 seasons. That’s a tough commitment to make with a top ten pick. That being said, I would be happy with Kulikov, Ellis or Schroeder as well.

2. How do you feel about the management changes made in Dallas? Do you think it could have a negative or positive effect on the upcoming draft?

I’m starting to come around with my attitude over the recent changes. To say they caught me off guard a bit would be an understatement. The general belief was that after some evaluating of the situation, Brett Hull would be reassigned and Les Jackson would take over the full time duties as the General Manager. After all, he had basically been doing the job on his own the whole time anyway. The hiring of Joe Nieuwendyk was surprising and out of left field a bit, even if Stars fans had been hoping and clamoring for him to get back with the organization ever since he retired back in 2006.

The initial reaction to Nieuwy’s hiring was an equal mixture of shock and excitement. After all, Les Jackson had done a pretty damn good job during his time as the co-G.M. and it was surprising to see him “reassigned”. But at the same time there was a high level of excitement to having Nieuwendyk taking over; he’s one of the most revered former Stars players among fans and only Guy Carbonneau could have garnered much more excitement than him. The prospect of the hard work, accountability and dedication that Nieuwendyk had as player being used in the Stars’ front office gave us all something to be enthusiastic about.

Then the firing of Dave Tippett and the hiring of Marc Crawford nearly undid all of the goodwill the fans had built up over Nieuwendyk. Tippett was a coach that was loved, LOVED by the fans here in Dallas. Sure, there were moments of frustration over his constant line-shuffling and his inability to get the Stars power play to click without Sergei Zubov, but fans were just as fiercely loyal as his players have always been. He represented everything the Dallas Stars franchise has stood for: Hard work, blue collar grittiness, loyalty to your teammates and just being an all-around nice guy. Not seeing him behind the bench for the Stars next season is going to be tough for fans to deal with.

Just ignore the cries for him to get fired in November of 2007, when Doug Armstrong got the axe instead. Amazing what a Conference Finals appearance and a tough season full of back-breaking injuries will do for the fans’ confidence in the coach.

In the end, and while some fans still believe this, Dave Tippett was not fired because of this past season. Joe Nieuwendyk as hired to bring about a change in the Dallas Stars organization because let’s face it: this team had become a bit stale. Tippett had won just three playoff series in five seasons, two in the same year. He always had one of the highest payrolls and most talented teams to work with, and things didn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. Remember, the Stars were floundering to start the season way before Morrow ever got hurt. And not everything can be blamed on Sean Avery.

Marc Crawford certainly represents a completely different change in coaching type. There is some belief that the players had become too comfortable with Tippett, and he lacked the ability to kick their ass into gear without Brenden Morrow swinging the foot. I think it will be extremely exciting to see what Crawford can do with a team that is much more talented than the one he had in L.A., and it will certainly be interesting to see the Dallas Stars become a much more offensive team, more so than at any time in their past.

3.Looking back, what are some of the greatest moments in Stars draft history? We’d imagine that choosing Mike Modano instead of Trevor Linden must rank up there, but what are some of the other pivotal moments and/or big “steals” for the franchise?

For the past 12 drafts, the Stars have primarily been picking in the very late first round or even in the second round with their first pick. This will be the first time the Stars have had a top 15 pick since 1996. It’s been steady over that time, with Matt Niskanen, Mark Fistric, Loui Eriksson, Steve Ott and Brenden Morrow all being selected in the late first round.

I can’t speak really to the draft history of the Stars before they came to Dallas but yeah, you’d have to think that Mike Modano has been the best draft pick in franchise history. Highest scoring American player of all time, franchise leader in nearly every single offensive category. I’d say that was a good pick.

Marty Turco was found in the 5th round of the 1994 draft, when the Stars drafting him out of high school. I’d say that that was a pretty good investment. Antti Miettinen was drafted in the 7th round in 2000. And most recently, Jamie Benn was drafted last year in the 5th round, a guy who dominated the WHL playoffs a month ago.

4.On the flip side, what are some of the lowest moments? Are there any decisions that stick out as especially foolish? Or, perhaps, picks they shouldn’t have traded during a deadline deal?

As far as draft busts, you don’t have to look any further than the last top ten pick the Stars had. Richard Jackman drafted 5th overall in 1996 by the Stars, and his biggest contribution in his career has been as trade fodder for Dallas, Toronto, Florida and Pittsburgh.

When you talk of trades involving high draft picks, everyone immediately turns to the trade that send Jarome Iginla to Calgary six months after he was drafted 11 overall in 1995. He made his debut in the 1996 playoff with the Flames and has never looked back.

Yet the Stars received Joe Nieuwendyk in return for Iginla (along with Corey Millen). Nieuwendyk was one of the best players to take the ice for the Stars during his time with the team, and won the Conn Smythe trophy in 1999. Some say the trade that sent him and Jamie Langenbrunner to the Devils in 2002 was perhaps the worst moment in team history. He meant that much to this team.

I’d say that was a fair tradeoff.

Blogger GM vs. Real-life GM: Pacific Division

March 9, 2009

To wrap up our Trade Deadline coverage, we’ll take a look at the big moves (and non-moves) in each division one-by-one. Did our contributors and their respective GMs see eye-to-eye? Would those guest posts provide a better reality than what really came about? Let’s take a look at the Pacific division:

Real Life: San Jose trades away Kyle McLaren, also deal for Travis Moen and Kent Huskins.
Mr. Plank from Fear the Fin said:

Interesting possibilities across the board, but at the end of the day I say stand pat and go with the roster. You have the high profile stars in Thornton and Marleau, a second line that could be a top line on many teams in the league, depth, experience on the blueline, Cup rings, agitators and veteran leaders. The list honestly goes on and on.

The Sharks didn’t do anything significant, but did move around some supporting cast members. Let’s say, half-right Mr. Plank.

Real Life: Los Angeles Kings ship Patrick O’Sullivan to Edmonton in three-way trade that nets the Kings Justin Williams
Rudy Kelly from Battle of California said:

A guy like Kopitar, you see, he’s in the Center #1/A/Sec. 43-B box. That’s a good box. A guy like O’Sullivan, on the other hand, is in the 32-1=”Box O’Shame” box, so we’ll see where that goes.

Rudy called it … kind of? I think. Oh my God there’s blood coming out of my ears!

Real Life:For Derek Morris, Daniel “PIM” Carcillo, Olli Jokinen, M. Tellqvist and a third round pick the Coyotoes added:

  • Calgary’s 1st round pick
  • Philadelphia’s 2nd round pick
  • Buffalo’s 4th round pick
  • Peter Prucha
  • Dimitri Kalinin
  • Nigel Dawes
  • Scottie Upshall
  • Matthew Lombardi
  • Brandon Prust

Odin Mercer from Five for Howling said:

Olli Jokinen has done alright for us, but I’d trade him in a heartbeat if I could get a good deal for him. Also, I’d trade Jovanovski for a bag of pucks to get rid of that money and give it to Morris. Just take a look at Jason Arnott’s goal against us on 2/26 and you’ll see why I’m eager to do that. After the recent losing streaks, I’d just grab as many high level picks as I could since the playoffs are out of reach again. Which sucks! So long as we don’t go trading for players we don’t need just to dump money.

Well done, Odin Mercer!

Real Life: Ducks trade away Sammy Pahlsson, Travis Moen, Kent Huskins in a couple trades. Earlier on traded Chris Kunitz for Ryan Whitney. Brendan Morrison was claimed by the Dallas Stars. (Takes a breath) Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer stay in Anaheim.
Earl Sleek from Battle of California said:

Option A (not that silly):

— Anaheim Ducks trade Chris Pronger, Francois Beauchemin, and Drew Miller to Buffalo for Drew Stafford, Nathan Gerbe, and a 1st

(And some other silly stuff.)

Wrong. But who could have predicted all of those moves?

Real Life: Stars do nothing but claim Brendan Morrison from waivers
Brandon from Defending Big D said:

The Stars aren’t in trouble because their main lineup is bad, they’re in trouble because of some debilitating injuries some very key players. Ride out the season with what we have and hope for the best.

Correct! Well done, Brandon.

If you were the GM (Pacific division)

March 4, 2009

(With the trade deadline upon us, Cycle like the Sedins decided to ask about 30 or so friends in the blogosphere to represent his or her team and answer the question: “What would you do if you were the GM during the trade deadline?

Since things change in a heartbeat, the date of each person’s submission is listed next to each entry. So before you start screaming “BUT THEY TRADED HIM!” while food spills out of your mouth, we’re showing what they thought at the time.

Don’t like it? Psh.)

San Jose Sharks

Mr. Plank from Fear the Fin
(2/24)

If I’m Doug Wilson, I stand pat at the deadline unless I’m moving prospects (Lukas Kaspar in particular) for a UFA who can contribute with bottom line some scoring punch. Jonathan Cheechoo’s name is bound to be tossed around, but moving him this year would be a mistake in my opinion- he’s a solid third line winger who gives us scoring depth, and has brought too much to this franchise to deal in a year when the Sharks are poised to make yet another run for the Stanley Cup. The potential problem with the fanbase/locker room coupled with the fact that we probably wouldn’t be receiving a high-profile gamebreaker in return makes me leery of that type of deal.

The funny thing about the deadline however is that the Sharks might be in “read and react” mode. Detroit is still the team to beat of course, but the Sharks have held onto that top spot in the West for the entire season. If Detroit picks up a guy like Manny Fernandez/Vesa Toskala, do the Sharks react and try to add some depth and sacrifice a little of the future? Does Dous Doug Wilson join the Toronto firesale and add Nik Antropov? What if Dallas, Chicago, or Calgary makes a move?

Interesting possibilities across the board, but at the end of the day I say stand pat and go with the roster. You have the high profile stars in Thornton and Marleau, a second line that could be a top line on many teams in the league, depth, experience on the blueline, Cup rings, agitators and veteran leaders. The list honestly goes on and on.

But hey- DW has pulled a rabbit out of his hat before. That’s why we call him The Godfather.

Chris Kontos: Like Detroit, don’t mess with success. It’s actually good that the Sharks haven’t been as dominate recently as they’ve been all year… it reminds them that there is still the playoffs ahead. With Grier and Roenick out until the start of the playoffs the Sharks don’t need to pick up any veteran players (remember how well Bill Guerin worked out) and they should 100% keep Cheechoo around. That’s a not a bad player to have on your 3rd line for a Stanley Cup run.

James O’Brien: This team is as good as it’s going to get. Just suck it up, Sharkies.

***

Los Angeles Kings
Rudy Kelly from Battle of California
(2/28)

I’ll tell ya, the thing about the trade deadline is, the thing you need to understand, is that it’s all about boxes. You got your boxes and you can’t deviate from that plan. A guy like Kopitar, you see, he’s in the Center #1/A/Sec. 43-B box. That’s a good box. A guy like O’Sullivan, on the other hand, is in the 32-1=”Box O’Shame” box, so we’ll see where that goes. I could see us trading Erik Ersberg, although everyone knows the old saying, “The sands of time go only down,” so I don’t know if we’ll trade him. Denis Gauthier might also go, but he’s a Stallion so I don’t know if I want to part with him. And maybe we’ll trade for a gamebreaker, but only if he knows how to work from the backend, because, as we all know, “Eagles only fly in fair wind.” Plus, you know, the boxes.

-Dean Lombardi

Chris Kontos: Who cares about the Kings? That team SUCKS!(how awesome would it be if they pick up Ryan Smyth for a young defenseman/goaltender? I wonder what box of Lombardi’s that would fit in?)

James O’Brien: The Kings are a year away, so if they can stock up on a few more draft picks/prospects then so be it. As Rudy said on BoC today, they could also be interested in that no-name Russian guy in Hotlanta.

***

Phoenix Coyotes (no guest entry yet)
Odin Mercer from Five for Howling:

As GM of the Coyotes right now, I’d be in a tough spot. On one hand you’ve got a decent group that could use some better coaching quite frankly. Derek Morris would be resigned it whatever deal got the job done, but right now the Coyotes can’t be saddled with a big long term deal until they get their books in order. Olli Jokinen has done alright for us, but I’d trade him in a heartbeat if I could get a good deal for him. Also, I’d trade Jovanovski for a bag of pucks to get rid of that money and give it to Morris. Just take a look at Jason Arnott’s goal against us on 2/26 and you’ll see why I’m eager to do that. After the recent losing streaks, I’d just grab as many high level picks as I could since the playoffs are out of reach again. Which sucks! So long as we don’t go trading for players we don’t need just to dump money.

Chris Kontos: Sell. Sell. Sell. Sign Gretzky and Grant Fuhr to player contracts for the remainder of the season. Then sign Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri and Charlie Huddy and you have the makings of the 1990 Los Angeles Kings.

James O’Brien: I’d be against selling, but they clearly are in some kind of financial bind. So, sell away I guess *sigh*.

***

Anaheim Ducks

Sorry, Brett.
Earl Sleek from Battle of California (March 2)

Option A (not that silly):

— Anaheim Ducks trade Chris Pronger, Francois Beauchemin, and Drew Miller to Buffalo for Drew Stafford, Nathan Gerbe, and a 1st
Option B (a little sillier):
— Anaheim Ducks trade Scott and Rob Niedermayer and an embarrassing photo of Brian Burke to Vancouver for Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Brotherhood is preserved.
Option C (whatever):
— Anaheim Ducks trade Brett Hedican to the Anaheim Angels for the right to a few more parking spots.

Chris Kontos: This is an interesting one. New GM Bob Murray is thinking about the future… witness last weeks trade with the Penguins. And if he’s able to get the farm for Pronger… an amazing defenseman, but someone on the 2nd half of his career… I think you have to go for it, right?

James O’Brien: The Ducks are going to be really interesting to watch. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are one of the best bang for your buck duos in the league. Do they stick with veterans or go young? It’s looking like the latter, but who knows.

***

Dallas Stars

The Stars are clearly in able hands

Brandon from Defending Big D (March 2)

If I were Les Jackson and Brett Hull I would be resisting every urge possible to make a big splash on Wednesday. The Stars are in the midst of six game skid and are in grave danger of not making the playoffs.

n a city that craves success, especially from the Stars, the G.M.’s are to going to be feeling the pressure to do something, anything that would put them back in the middle of the playoff hunt. Yet the Stars must be careful to not mortgage the future of the team by giving up draft picks, prospect or young wingers just to find a temporary, soon to be unrestricted free agent solution.

The Stars aren’t in trouble because their main lineup is bad, they’re in trouble because of some debilitating injuries some very key players. Ride out the season with what we have and hope for the best.

Chris Kontos: They should get Avery back. This team has been in a tailslide since they made arrangements for him to go to New York.

James O’Brien: Just a real tough couple of breaks for the Stars. If I were their GM, though, I’d run a firesale on the veterans. Sergei Zubov is about to be an unrestricted free agent. Convince him to pull a Keith Tkachuk back-and-forth. Mike Modano? Keep him for the whole “lifetime player” thing. But Jere Lehtinen? Feel around. This team needs an injection of youth.

Dance Partners: San Jose

February 24, 2009

ChrisKontos here with your Western Conference edition of Dance Partners. The first blockbuster (?) trade has gone down in the NHL (who knew that Dean McAmmond was still even playing!) and that means the playoffs are rapidly approaching.


As goes Dean McAmmond… so goes Ottawa’s playoff hopes.

The race for 8th place has created an incredible logjam in the Western Conference as even the last place Colorado Avalanche (wow, that feels weird to write) are only a few points away from that 8th seed. There are more pretenders than contenders out of the 10 teams that are battling for that spot, so let’s breakdown the 3 teams that would make the most entertaining matchups for the Western Conference leading San Jose Sharks and for the NHL. But please remember… San Jose is no Boston… so the NHL is going to have a hard time marketing this series no matter who is playing.

1. Columbus Blue Jackets – (currently in 6th place, but only 2 points away from being 8th)


What the ef is a Blue Jacket?!?

Never bet against Ken Hitchcock. The man has not been anywhere close to the playoffs in 3 seasons but the Blue Jackets have finally figured out how to work in his defensive system. It helps that super mono-fighting rookie Steve Mason has given the BJ’s the goaltender they needed. I expect the BJ’s to make the biggest move at the deadline and get some help at forward. They’ve beaten the Sharks twice this season, both in overtime. Watching the high octane speed and offense of the Sharks clash with the defense first mentality of a Hitchcock team could make this a very good series.

NHL Marketability: Um… It’s Columbus and San Jose. Not so much.

2. Dallas Stars – (currently in 7th place and cursing the loss of Brad Richards)


James Woods… the Star of Shark.

This is the scenario that the NHL would love the most. Dallas, the team that struggled out of the gate because of its bonehead move to give Sean Avery a bunch of money, would bounce back and sneak into the playoffs to face its division rival, the Sharks. Just think of how much all the TV analysts get to fawn over what cutting their loses with Sean Avery has done for this Stars team. Plus now that Marty Turco has ironed out his kinks, a Nabokov-Turco first round matchup would be fantastic. You know, kind of like the amazing 1-0 Sharks victory from last night. Oh and there was the whole Dallas beating San Jose in the 2nd round last year thing too. I know Ron Wilson remembers that series.


Is there such a thing as an old school Sharks-Stars fight?

NHL Marketability: Have you heard anyone talk about what happened to this Sean Avery character and the Dallas Stars? Wild, huh? I can only imagine they’d bring it up in the playoffs.

3. Anaheim Ducks (currently in 10th, but with the most games played)


Maybe the National Geographic channel will air this series?
(insert Versus joke here)

Wow, this could be a killer series. If the Ducks are able to get their act together in the final months of the season… and JS Giguere remembers how to play goal… this would be a fantastic series for hockey fans. But that’s a big IF. The Ducks have plodded along all season and have the least games in hand out of any of the teams battling for 8th. But if they are able to sneak into the playoffs with Niedermayer, Pronger, Getzlaf, Perry and Selanne all still on their roster… watch out. This would be the matchup the Sharks would least want.

NHL Marketability: This could quickly become a classic first round series. Plus I think Battle of California’s head would explode blogging about this playoff matchup.

WILDCARD!

How could you expect me to break down the 8th seed matchup for the Western Conference and not give the Los Angeles Kings a fighting chance? I mean, I’ve even created a marketing slogan for the Kings push for the 8th seed. Unfortunately, if the Kings continue to shit the playoff race bed like they did this weekend against the Phoenix Coyotes, this matchup is not probable at all. BUT if the Kings did sneak in… well, they would rather play the Detroit Red Wings as at least they’ve been close in games with that team this year. Damn you Denis Gauthier!


Play-offs? Hmm, never heard of them.

NHL Marketability: Well, having a Los Angeles based team (sorry Anaheim) in the playoffs would make any TV executive happy. And can you imagine the coverage of this series by the various NHL California blogs? Blogging gold. Commenters… it’s up to you. What do you think?

News cycle

January 19, 2009

Not sure, but I do know that he makes it in my “better double check the spelling of that last name” HOF. That’s gotta count for something.

It’s not great news for anyone, really, but will this prompt the Stars to be more warmly receptive to bloggers? It’s something all NHL teams should consider in an economy that is struggling.

  • Sunday was a great day for Steeltowners as the Steelers advanced to the SuperBowl and the Penguins shut out the Rangers 3-0.

Too bad the Rangers looked as flat as Kate Hudson in that game.

  • Say what you will about “The Masked Avenger,” anyone who mocks the obnoxious duo of Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury cannot be all bad.

The pathetic little slapfight the two talking heads displayed during NBC’s coverage was just embarrassing.