Welcome to another edition of the Dallas Stars Mailbag. It’s been a busy week — highlighted unfortunately by another injury — so let’s get started:
@seanshapiro is there any reason to protect Eakin after the season? He’s been outmatched + outworked by teammates with 0 addition to offense
— huttonjackson (@DownSetHutton) February 2, 2017
All of your points are valid, but Cody Eakin will be protected in the expansion draft.
There are a couple reasons, and please hear me out.
First, Eakin has value on the open market right now. If the Stars wanted to part ways with the 25-year-old center they would trade him, they wouldn’t expose him in the expansion draft.
While Eakin’s numbers and play haven’t lived up to expectations this season, several NHL teams would be more than willing to buy low right now and add a two-way center with an affordable contract.
Second, positional scarcity. You protect Eakin over a player like Antoine Roussel because two-way centers — even ones that are struggling — aren’t growing on trees in the NHL. While Roussel is a fan favorite and an annoyance to play against, there are other wingers who could fill his role that will be available in the minor-league system or through free agency.
I know people will disagree and his overall play hasn’t inspired much confidence this season, but the Stars are going to protect Eakin in the expansion draft. They signed him to a four-year extension before this season and he’s only 25, and if Jim Nill wanted to move Eakin he’d make a trade.
The Stars have also been happy with Eakin’s play recently. And deserved or not, Jamie Benn has finally started to look like the old Jamie Benn on Eakin’s wing.
@seanshapiro Chances of Lindy Ruff getting new contract if Stars miss playoffs / sneak in and lose first round ?
— Stefan Dreier (@s3rp86) February 1, 2017
Right now no decision has been made on Lindy Ruff’s status. However, if the Stars miss the playoffs, I think it’s close to a lock he doesn’t get another contract with the Stars.
If the Stars make the playoffs, you have to look at how the team responds in the postseason. Do they win a round? Are they actually competitive?
You also have to consider what other coaches are available. Even if the Stars win a playoff round, the availability of another coach — say Claude Julien — could easily make Ruff expendable.
@seanshapiro chances of gurianov, stransky, Dickinson in the NHL next year?
— Justin Schmidt (@JustinSchmidt24) February 1, 2017
Jason Dickinson and Denis Gurianov will both play games in the NHL next season, whether it’s a full-time role or an injury-induced call-up remains to be seen.
Matej Stransky could play in the NHL at some point, but he still needs to improve his skating ability to be able to compete at the NHL level. If Dickinson and Gurianov are full-time NHL players next season, Stransky could be the player getting an occasional NHL game as an AHL call-up.
@seanshapiro What was the impetus of moving Brett Burns to Defense? Can anyone on the current Stars make this same move?
— William Shawn Ladd (@ShawnSN385) February 1, 2017
Brent Burns was drafted as a right wing and converted into an NHL defenseman by Jacques Lemaire. I don’t have any insight into that decision.
And no, I don’t see any of the Stars forwards being converted to defensemen. They already have too many.
@seanshapiro Any chance DeFazio earns a 2-way contract next season? He’s fun to watch.
— Zee Zolnerovich (@BigZeeRex) February 2, 2017
NHL expansion might open an opportunity for Brandon DeFazio to get another NHL contract. Next season depth is going to be thinned out slightly across the league, and DeFazio could be looked at as player that could play in the NHL if an injury arose.
I’m not sure if he’ll get that two-way contract with Dallas, especially with his age (DeFazio will be 29 before next season). But there is past precedent of the Stars giving AHL-contracted players an NHL two-way after a year of strong service in Cedar Park.
@seanshapiro new goalie pants–are we wearing them yet?do Kari/Antti have any HSOs abt them? How do you/they think it will affect their play
— ⭐️RoxStar⭐️ (@RoxStar) February 2, 2017
The Stars goalies will start wearing the new pants in Saturday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Antti Niemi said he didn’t notice a difference in practice, while Kari Lehtonen said he had to make a slight adjustment because the pants are shorter on his thigh than he’s used to.
@seanshapiro just a dream but is there any way we trade niemi to flyers for stolarz..throw in a draft pick and pay half of his salary?
— Jake Brimberry (@brim0628) February 2, 2017
If you can get the Philadelphia Flyers to agree to a trade for Anthony Stolarz, I’d be all for it. Stolarz is only 23, has been very good in the AHL the past two seasons, and has had some strong NHL performances.
However, I don’t think the Flyers would take Antti Niemi, even if the Stars retained half his salary.
The Flyers have had their own share of goalie problems and I don’t think they want to invest $2.25 million (half of Niemi’s salary) next season in a goalie that is widely looked at as an average back-up in the NHL right now.
@seanshapiro do you think this Spezza injury will make a trade more likely, or will it put it on the backburner till Spez is back?
— GoStars (@Stars24_7) February 3, 2017
It could have either impact.
If the Stars struggled with Spezza out and start to slip farther out of playoff position, you start to hit the market as a seller before the trade deadline. If the Stars stay close to the playoff line and tread water, they’ll look at Spezza’s impending return as a boost to the lineup and they’ll likely hold onto pieces longer.
@seanshapiro What is Hemsky going to do next year? After a whole season out is any other team going to take a chance on him? Will the Stars?
— Cindy Campbell (@origprod) February 3, 2017
Ales Hemsky will have an NHL job next season, but he likely won’t get a $4 million contract like he has this season.
Hemsky will be 34 before next season and has a history of injuries. If he is able to play again this season, which is questionable, the Stars — and any other team interested in signing the pending UFA — will probably be watching closely to see how his body responded to the injury.
@seanshapiro Dickinson/Gurianov call-up with Spezza out? McKenzie can’t bring what they can IMO.
— Gavin Wilkinson (@Gwilkers96) February 3, 2017
Denis Gurianov isn’t ready to play in the NHL at the moment. He’s getting closer, but still needs to work on his positioning and overall decision making before I’d trust him in an NHL game.
Dickinson could play in the NHL right now and will likely be part of the NHL roster next season. But he’s not a better lineup option than Curtis McKenzie right now. Dickinson should have a lengthy NHL career, but thanks to the off-season hip surgery he still hasn’t hit the level he reached last season.
I’d also like to see the Stars elevate Brett Ritchie in the lineup with Spezza’s injury, and put McKenzie with Lauri Korpikoski and Adam Cracknell.
@seanshapiro why is Hamius still n defensive pairing?He provides no offense and is even a liability at times. Should Honka remain a starter?
— DrakeUnited (@drakeunited) February 3, 2017
Dan Hamhuis has played well lately and he’s one of the few plus defensemen over the course of the season.
However, I would like to see Julius Honka stay in the lineup and play through mistakes. While he had the bad turnover against Toronto, he also created a goal on a play that the rest of the Stars defense (excluding John Klingberg) wouldn’t be able to make.
The problem with the Stars defensive situation is that every night someone has to sit, and the coaching staff has created a situation were younger players are more focussed on not making mistakes than making the right plays.
@seanshapiro as the season slips away, Fireball, Vodka or Rum?
— Mark Harrill (@atxstranger) February 3, 2017
When I partake in such activities, I’m more of a vodka drinker.
@seanshapiro The Stars are winless the following game after scoring 6 goals. (3 of which we were shutout). What gives?
— AndrewGifford4 (@AndrewGifford4) February 3, 2017
They must be cursed.