We are going to dedicate this week’s mailbag to Cody Eakin.
I could have dedicated it to the Stars bye week and Ales Hemsky’s solo practices as he works his way back from injury. But the readers have demanded a discussion about Cody Eakin, and we are going to deliver.
Let’s get started:
@seanshapiro Cody Eakin could, in part, be a good trade chip for a top 2 defenseman, but does Nill value Eakin as much as Ruff seems to?
— Robert Tiffin (@RobertTiffin) February 22, 2017
Jim Nill and Lindy Ruff have similar opinions of Cody Eakin — they both think he’s a good hockey player, who is just having a difficult season.
Like the fans, Nill would like to see Eakin put up better numbers, but he also has confidence that Eakin is a valuable two-way center and one that could be a key part of the team’s future.
And, yes, Eakin could be used in a potential deal to for a top-pairing defensemen. If the Stars decided to make him available on the trade block, there would be at least a dozen teams interested in making a deal for the center.
@seanshapiro Why Cody Eakin? Why, why, WHY???
— Rose (@roseoftexas1) February 22, 2017
Did you steal this Tweet from Henrik Lundqvist?
@seanshapiro is playing Eakin at 1C a way for Nill to inception the idea of it to other teams so we trade him for a top D-man?
— Mike Lutz (@MikeGLutz) February 23, 2017
I could have fun with this, but I’m going to give a serious answer.
Eakin’s playing time and role is completely determined by Ruff. Ruff is coaching for his job right now, so he’s trying to win games. He believes playing Eakin as his first-line center is the best chance he has of keeping his job.
Right or wrong, Eakin’s use in a game is on Ruff, not Nill.
(You know what, screw it, let’s have some fun with this.)
Very few people know the Dallas Stars 2016-17 season hasn’t started yet.
It’s really Sept. 10, 2016. Training camp is a couple days away and the future is still bright. Hey, that Jiri Hudler signing looks pretty smart.
But thanks to James Edward “Jim” Nill, we all believe we’re in the midst of a lost season. A failed campaign filled with injuries and disappointment in Dallas. It feels like a bad dream, and you know what, it is.
It’s a look at the darkest timeline for the Stars season. It’s just a dream and the Stars will be Stanley Cup contenders with a full season to play when you wake up.
Yes, the top is still spinning.
@seanshapiro opinion on what each team might want from us: Wash/Grubes, Chi/Darling, TB/Bishop, NY/Raanta considering all might be different
— knowproblem (@jeffkg2) February 22, 2017
If you go after Scott Darling or Ben Bishop it’s a move made in free agency (both are pending unrestricted free agents), or simply trading for their rights before July 1. If you trade for rights it’s a minor deal, potentially a conditional fifth-round pick based on whether the Stars sign them or not.
For Antti Raanta or Philipp Grubauer, I’d offer the New York Rangers or Washington Capitals a package including a young defenseman (Jamie Oleksiak or Patrik Nemeth), a second-round pick (the Rangers and Capitals both don’t have a second-round pick in 2017), and any prospect the Rangers/Capitals want not named Julius Honka or Denis Gurianov.
If it was a typical season I think Washington would ask for more. However, the Capitals are facing the reality that Grubauer will be selected in the expansion draft, his former goalie coach is on staff in Vegas, and will want to avoid losing him for nothing.
@seanshapiro Garbutt has a $900K cap hit ending in June. How will that impact future moves/signings, if at all?
— Robbie Beazley (@RobbieBeazley) February 22, 2017
It won’t have an impact.
@seanshapiro Do you see the stars going out and addressing their needs for another top line C/RW to play with Benn/Seguin?
— Josh Derrick (@Jd09er) February 22, 2017
Maybe in the offseason, but first priorities will be addressing the goaltending and defense.
@seanshapiro heard any good rumors, I keep hearing Sharp to Habs for some nice returns
— ryan salome (@StarsPotter214) February 22, 2017
Yes, I’ve heard some good ones.
@seanshapiro Do you think Ritchie is a part of the future? He’s fine, but do you (or the Stars) think he’s still a potential top 6 forward?
— Bottom Text (@DarianMcB) February 22, 2017
I think the raw tools are there for Brett Ritchie to be a top-six forward with the Dallas Stars.
With a dash of consistency, Ritchie’s size and shot on the right wing could be a nice fit alongside Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on Stars’ top line next season.
That’s not a lock, but that’s a nice ceiling for Ritchie to aim for and I think the Stars will protect him in the expansion draft for that reason.
@seanshapiro what coaches (assistant or head) could be available and a fit over the summer?
— Justin Schmidt (@JustinSchmidt24) February 22, 2017
Right now it wouldn’t be fair to speculate a list of finalists, there are too many factors still to be determined.
However, I will throw out a name I think the Stars should consider, and one that hasn’t been mentioned very often:
Grand Rapids Griffins head coach Todd Nelson.
Nelson has a history of getting more out of younger players in the AHL, and he was dealt a bad hand when the Edmonton Oilers made him the interim coach during the 2014-15 season.
@seanshapiro Your 3 picks on who may be taken in expansion draft?
— Bejodu (@Bejodu59) February 22, 2017
I would put the best odds (it’s Vegas, get it?) on Antoine Roussel, Jordie Benn, and Jamie Oleksiak.
All three will likely be left exposed in the expansion draft, and all three could fit into the mold George McPhee is building in Vegas.
Remember, this is a top-three list without any other moves made. Trades could easily impact this list.
@seanshapiro what is the outlook on the Stars acquiring top goaltender and leaving Kari and Antti exposed?
— Chase (@crajr_19) February 22, 2017
I think it’s a safe bet the Stars will have a new starting goalie next season. There are simply too many options available and the expansion factor for Jim Nill not to make a move in the offseason.
The Stars will also likely have Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi back as the back-up, while the other will have to be bought out.
@seanshapiro does the management see the Stars as sellers or will they be quiet at the deadline in hopes of a miracle
— yikes (@Stars24_7) February 22, 2017
They should be smart and look at themselves as sellers.
@seanshapiro Which UFA do you think the Stars should re-sign for next year?
— Chris Story (@thechrisstory) February 23, 2017
Patrick Eaves and Adam Cracknell.
Still trade Eaves before the deadline, but re-sign him in July after he enjoys a playoff run with another team.
@seanshapiro Is a hotdog a sandwich?
— AndrewGifford4 (@AndrewGifford4) February 22, 2017
Is a bratwurst a sandwich?
@seanshapiro are you the reason this season has gone so poorly? Did you jinx us? Are you bad luck?
— Trex20 (@t_rex20_) February 23, 2017
In my four years covering the Texas Stars on a beat basis they never missed the playoffs and won the Calder Cup.
@seanshapiro do you think there is an inherent issue with the development of young talent in the organization? Specifically from AHL up?
— Andrew L. (@AndrewLCA) February 23, 2017
I think the AHL team has actually done a decent job of developing young talent at forward and defense, the problem is players haven’t been given a chance (carrying eight defensemen comes to mind) or seized opportunities to improve in the NHL. That’s on both the organization and the players themselves.
The Stars do need to do a better job working with goalies in the AHL. There needs to be a full-time goalie coach in Cedar Park, I think that was proven by the Jack Campbell debacle.
Now the bigger issue may be with amateur scouting, and which players the Stars are drafting. In the past two drafts we can judge (2013 and 2014), only four of the 16 players drafted look like potential NHL players — and one was Valeri Nichushkin. The 2015 and 2016 drafts still have time to pan out, but early returns haven’t been as promising.
— Cindy Campbell (@origprod) February 23, 2017
Tyler Seguin doesn’t look nearly as explosive as he did in the past. Maybe it’s something time will fix, maybe he’ll never be the same.
@seanshapiro if you were to choose one Stars player to have on your side during a zombie apocalypse, who would it be?
— Alex Ferguson (@alexferg19) February 23, 2017
For half of this season Jiri Hudler was a zombie. He was dead to the world and wasn’t allowed near the team.
He would think like a zombie and we’d avoid them.
— Cindy Campbell (@origprod) February 23, 2017
During the bye week I drove to New Orleans. It’s seven-hour drive from Dallas and you can listen to live jazz and they have no open-container laws, it’s a fun town.
They also don’t have a hockey rink in New Orleans, so you shouldn’t run into any reminders of the struggles in Dallas.
@seanshapiro is it safe to assume that regardless of what goalie the Stars trade for this year that they’ll have to draft 1or 2 more?
— Olsonwins (@Olsonwins) February 23, 2017
They’ll want to draft a goalie this year because goalies are so hard to predict. I think it’s smart to draft a goalie every year, you never know which one will pan out.
@seanshapiro chances we could get a first line right wing to pair with Benn/Seguin?
— Tyler Love (@TylerChaseLove) February 23, 2017
Roughly 12 percent.
@seanshapiro have you heard anything about Backman’s plans for next season?
— Mark Harrill (@atxstranger) February 23, 2017
I haven’t spoken to him directly about it, but I get the feeling there is some frustration there and he would certainly entertain returning to Europe, like he almost did last season.
@seanshapiro Who’s the nicest/greatest interview subject you’ve ever spoken with?
— Robert Tiffin (@RobertTiffin) February 23, 2017
This is a really good question and a hard one to answer.
Recently Dave Strader was a fantastic interview, so was Mike “Doc” Emrick. Rich Peverley opened up about his post-playing career for my story on Monday, that was special.
My favorite stories and interviews are the ones where you get to learn and tell human stories. For example, the story about Vernon Fiddler and his friendship with Chloe Brown is one of my favorite stories I’ve written.
I guess it’s too difficult to label one single interview as the nicest or greatest.
@seanshapiro are Desrosiers better numbers with Norfolk a sign that i’s the system, not the goalies, that isn’t very good?
— Nova (@supernova2395) February 23, 2017
His recent success is just a sign that Philippe Desrosiers needed a change of scenery or a jolt to his game.
Landon Bow has been playing behind the same system in Idaho and he has a 2.29 goals against average and .929 save percentage in the ECHL.
@seanshapiro Val or Denis? Who has a bigger role in ’18?
— Don Webb (@DalFanWebb) February 23, 2017
@seanshapiro everyone knows all the usual trade suspects, who do you think could be shipped out that would surprise fans?
— CT Stars Fan (@ctstarsfan1491) February 23, 2017
Jamie Benn isn’t getting traded, that’s a certainty.
However, I don’t think anyone else has earned “untouchable” status on this roster. Now it would take an incredible offer, but I think Jim Nill would listen to an offer on any player, even Tyler Seguin or John Klingberg.
Also, please don’t read this as “The Stars will trade Tyler Seguin.” I’m just making a point that anyone could be moved for the right price.
@seanshapiro who centers each line next year?
— Ryan Pennington (@ryanpennington) February 23, 2017
Next year’s potential center depth:
Spezza and Shore are both playing wing in this scenario.