I want to start today’s mailbag with a couple house keeping things.
First, thanks to everyone who takes the time to read Wrong Side of the Red Line. The All-Star break is roughly the halfway point of the season (50 games), and I think it’s a proper time to say thank you to the readers that make this site worthwhile.
Second, the next issue of the Dallas Stars prospect insider will come out Monday. I’m taking the All-Star break this weekend to lay it out and watch some additional film on prospects. This month’s issue will have quite a bit on some of the AHL players that are getting closer to making the jump.
The third thing isn’t Stars related, but it’s the All-Star break and this is my mailbag, so let’s have some fun with this:
— Brent Severyn (@BrentSeveryn) January 27, 2017
Yes, I’m wearing goalie skates and goalie pants to play forward. Yes, I have my eyes closed and don’t know how to properly pose for a photo. And, yes, I deserve to be made fun of for these things.
And with that, let’s get to the important things:
@seanshapiro what do you feel is Gemel Smith’s true NHL ceiling? He was quietly impressive in his short Dallas stint in my opinion.
— Tom Dorsa (@TomDorsa) January 25, 2017
Before this season I would have never expected Gemel Smith to play in the NHL. He spent part of last season in the ECHL and I thought the Stars wouldn’t re-sign him after his entry-level contract expired.
So, Smith has proven everyone — myself included — wrong by playing a dozen NHL games this season. I think Smith’s NHL ceiling is as a speedy third-line center in the NHL. His speed is an asset, especially as the game gets faster, and he could be effectively used as a penalty killer.
I still don’t think Smith will become a full-time NHL player with Dallas, rather it’s more realistic that he turns into an AHL top-six forward that gets the occasional NHL call-up due to injuries. However, I’ll be very happy if he proves me wrong.
— Mark Harrill (@atxstranger) January 26, 2017
I’m not sure how much they’ll play, but the likes of Ondrej Vala, Chris Martenet, and Nick Caamano could all join the Texas Stars after their junior seasons come to an end.
The player I’m most interested in seeing play for Texas is Roope Hintz, who could come over and join Texas after his season ends in Finland.
@seanshapiro 1/2 don’t want to give up on the playoffs, but Dallas could really set themselves up for the future at the trade deadline
— Austin Cobb (@aacobb) January 25, 2017
There was a story in The Hockey News about this earlier this week, and I don’t disagree. The Stars do have the pieces to be big sellers at the trade deadline and re-stock their pool of prospects and maybe stockpile some draft picks.
They haven’t shown it yet, but the Stars also have time to prove they can still be a contender this season if a couple things break their way. Can Tyler Seguin find another level (and he’s already been very good). Can Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, and Patrick Sharp look like, well, Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, and Patrick Sharp? And can the goalies stop turning cheese graters at the worst moments?
I think the Stars owe it to themselves to answer those questions by Feb. 20. If they believe they have a chance to make the playoffs, and in the NHL even an eight-seed can win the cup, then they’ll stand pat. But if you have lingering doubts or added questions, it becomes time to sell off and build for the future.
@seanshapiro why doesn’t Lindy regulate playing time for players to develop chemistry? It seems to hurt player development & confidence.
— huttonjackson (@DownSetHutton) January 25, 2017
I wish I could read Lindy Ruff’s mind, than I’d be a lot better at my job.
And yes, I think they way Ruff has handled young players has hurt development this season.
For example, I don’t like how they handled scratching Patrik Nemeth the other night against the Buffalo Sabres. Nemeth had been playing again and was finding his confidence, but after one mistake against the Minnesota Wild he was once again sentenced to the press box.
My bigger issue is the win-loss based lineup changes in Dallas. If the Stars win the lineup stays the same, if they lose it’ll likely change. That means you’re making a reaction to the final result, and not truly assessing what happened within the game itself.
@seanshapiro Do you think Roope Hintz comes to the AHL next season and how will his game translate in the US?
— David Hood (@davidchood) January 26, 2017
I’m planning on asking for an update on Hintz’ status after the All-Star break, so I’ll be able to better answer this question next week.
To answer the second part of your question, I think Hintz could be an effective playmaking center right away in the AHL. From watching him in person a couple times at development camp and some footage from Finland, he’s always creating positive things for his team.
Once again, I promise that we’ll talk about him more next week after I get a chance to catch up with some members of the Stars’ brass after the break.
@seanshapiro Even though we are 3 pts outside a playoff race, we’re also 4th worst in NHL. When do we hit the panic button?
— Justin Schmidt (@JustinSchmidt24) January 25, 2017
Don’t hit the panic button.
The NHL has created too much parity this season, enjoy that the Stars still have a chance to salvage something.
@seanshapiro what would be the return for players like Sharp, Oduya, Eave?
— Florian Wieser (@fwieser55) January 25, 2017
A combination of prospects and draft picks, possibly a younger NHL player that a contending team is willing to part with in order to acquire a veteran for a championship push.
I think Patrick Sharp would have the largest return. Say you were going to trade Sharp to Chicago, which seems to be the hot rumor right now, I think you could ask for a second-round pick, a mid-level prospect, and a younger NHL player. The Stars would also retain salary in the deal, since Chicago is close to the cap.
Patrick Eaves probably could garner a combination of a pick and a prospect, so would Oduya if he comes back healthy.
@seanshapiro what do you think the Stars should do about required exposures as many of their contracts don’t run past this year?
— Nova (@supernova2395) January 25, 2017
The Stars are actually in pretty good when it comes to required exposures, which are as follows:
i) One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
ii) Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
iii) One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.
The Stars are already easily compliant on the defender and goalie front, where they might have to get creative is with the forwards.
The Stars are already likely going to leave Brett Ritchie, Antoine Roussel, or Cody Eakin exposed. One of those players will fill the 40-game requirement. To fill the other 40-game requirement you can do one of two things:
1. Play Curtis McKenzie nine more games this season and re-sign him during the season.
2. Re-sign Adam Cracknell during the season.
Either way you are staying compliant with the NHL rules and neither McKenzie or Cracknell would likely be selected by Vegas.
@seanshapiro do you think we could right this ship over the summer and be right back in the thick of things?
— Trex20 (@t_rex20_) January 27, 2017
It requires a healthy Jamie Benn, a more reliable goalie, and some trust in the young defense. It might also require a coaching change, but we’ll have to see what candidates are available.
@seanshapiro what would be your day pairs if you were in charge of the defense, what experimental pairs would you like to at least try once
— Billy Reynolds (@beepeearr) January 27, 2017
If we’re getting experimental, I’d give this a try.
I don’t know if it would work right away, but there is some potential for the future.
@seanshapiro If we acquire a goalie at some point, do you think the Stars could buy out and/or waive one of our current goalies? Comp: Halak
— Bottom Text (@DarianMcB) January 27, 2017
I think a goalie buyout could be a reality in the offseason. If you find the young goalie of the future in another deal (Philipp Grubauer anyone?), you only have one year left of Lehtonen or Niemi to buy out.
Ideally you’d like to trade one of the goalies, but I have a hard time believing another general manager would be interested in trading for either.
@seanshapiro If Janmark is healthy what’s the chances of a Janmark- shore- hemsky(or stransky) line?
— Justin Schmidt (@JustinSchmidt24) January 27, 2017
I’d be careful with Mattias Janmark’s health this season and if I have any concerns, I wait until the 2017-18 season before he plays again. With a genetic problem, I want to be completely sure he’s good to go before even thinking he’s ready to play.
If Janmark is ready to play by the end of this season, I think he and Shore could be a very good combination along with Patrick Sharp (if Sharp hasn’t been traded away).