For the first time since coming to Dallas in 2013, Jim Nill did not make an in-season trade this year. The Stars are still in the hunt for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central division and they have very little wiggle room when it comes to the salary cap.
Currently, Dallas sits six points behind the Nashville Predators for that final playoff spot. The Stars do have three games in hand and a far easier schedule than Nashville the rest of the way. While there were some names floating around the trade talks such as pending free agents Andrew Cogliano, Blake Comeau, and Jamie Oleksiak, as well as Esa Lindell and John Klingberg, the Stars decided to stand pat.
The Dallas Stars Stand Pat at NHL Trade Deadline
Why The Dallas Stars Did Not Sell
Sometimes during this season, we forget that Dallas was two wins away from their second Stanley Cup last season. 2021 has been an up and down season full of injuries, tough losses, and overtime failures. However, as I stated above, they still remain well within reach of a playoff berth and have been without many key players most of the season.
Nill decided to stick with his pending free agents in hopes of making the playoffs and another playoff run. Andrew Cogliano and Blake Comeau provide so much for the team and Dallas needs them down the stretch. It is also not out of the question that they try to re-sign one or both of them this summer.
In terms of Jamie Oleksiak, the organization knows how important he is to the team and that he solidifies what is among the best defensive cores in the NHL. When asked about Oleksiak after the deadline, Nill responded accordingly.
"“Jamie’s a guy that we want, he’s a big part of our core,” Nill said. “I think he is a big part of our top-four, our defense is as good as any defense in the league when you look at it. Unless somebody was going to make me an offer that was something I couldn’t say no to, we did not have any plays of moving Jamie. He’s a player we’re hoping we can get re-signed here.”"
Dallas will have to wait until after the expansion draft to try and negotiate a contract with Oleksiak, Comeau, or Cogliano but this shows just how important they are to this team.
The other names such as Klingberg and Lindell would have only been options if Dallas felt that the return could be huge or if they believed their winning window was closed.
Why The Dallas Stars Did Not Buy
Help is on the way for the Dallas Stars. Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop have both begun skating in Texas and look to be about two weeks away from returning to the lineup. Alexander Radulov and Joel Kiviranta have also been skating and are looking to get back in the near future. That is a lot of help that will be arriving for Dallas.
Another important part of this is the extraordinary play from players like Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson, and Joe Pavelski that has allowed Dallas to remain in the hunt until the help arrives.
With that in mind, why would Nill go out and pay for a player when his team has stuck around the playoff hunt without many of their top players? Nill will never decline a conversation and he said that they did speak to plenty of other teams but nothing made enough sense to make a move.
"“In the end, where we’re at with our team, with the injury situations and our push for getting in the playoffs, we thought it was better to stay pat,” Nill said."
While Dallas did not make any trades before the deadline, they did add a player. Dallas claimed defenseman Sami Vatanen off waivers today after he was waived by the New Jersey Devils. Vatanen is a veteran player who has played over 450 NHL games and has appeared in the Stanley Cup Playoffs six times.
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He adds some depth to a defense that has been injured all season and will be a valuable piece that can play on the bottom pair. He is also a very good penalty killer which will be a huge key to the Stars’ success going forward.
Vatanen has some familiarity with Stars’ forward Roope Hintz as the two were teammates back in Finland. He also adds to what is already known as the ‘Finnish Mafia’ in Dallas with Roope Hintz, Miro Heiskanen, Esa Lindell, and Joel Kiviranta.
Recent injuries to Mark Pysyk and Andrej Sekera along with the tough remaining schedule for Dallas made this move nearly a necessity. The key to this addition was that Nill was able to add a depth player without giving up a draft pick.
"“I’ve given up a lot of picks over the last couple of years, and it’s important we’ve got to start replenishing the system a little bit here,” Nill said."
Vatanen flew into Dallas Monday night and is expected to be available to play Tuesday night against Florida.
With help on the way and a team that is right in the thick of the playoff hunt, it was not unexpected for Dallas to stay rather quiet at this years’ deadline. It was a nice addition to add Sami Vatanen and the potential is still very high with what this team can accomplish this season.
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What do you think? Should the Dallas Stars have been buyers, sellers, or did they play it just right? Let us know what you think!