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NHL Dallas Stars

NHL Trade Deadline: 5 Moves the Dallas Stars Must Consider

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NHL Trade Deadline: 5 Moves the Dallas Stars Must Consider

Dallas Stars
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL's Mar. 5 trade deadline is just around the corner, and playoff races will be getting more intense than they already were before the Olympic break. With the tight salary cap and so many teams on the playoff bubble, there is no telling what the trade deadline will bring.

The Dallas Stars find themselves yet again a part of the tough Western Conference playoff bubble. They have shown stretches of greatness, such as their 5-0-2 run to close out 2013 calendar year and their 6-1-2 run leading to the Olympic break. They also have been through several slumps, none bigger than the atrocious 1-8-1 run to start 2014.

As of the Olympic break, the Stars find themselves in the eighth and final playoff spot. However, only four points separate them and four other teams. With games in hand and tiebreakers over those teams, the Stars can control their own destiny. They have a team that can make the playoffs this season, but an upgrade never hurts and acquiring future pieces for expiring contracts can help the team’s future.

A few Stars players’ names have appeared in trade rumors already, namely Ray Whitney and Vernon Fiddler. Whitney, Fiddler and Stephane Robidas have contracts that expire at the end of this season. Shawn Horcoff and Erik Cole have contracts beyond this season, but their names have also been in the rumor mill.

While they may be able to make the playoffs with their current roster, there are a few moves the Stars should be on the lookout for that might help them this year and years down the road.

Mohammad Bakhach is a Dallas Stars writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @hockeyarcher or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Try to Move a Big Contract

Erik Cole
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars have a few players with sizable contracts that they could do without. Cole and Horcoff have contracts that extend beyond this year, but their cap hits aren't very friendly. It will be tough to find a suitor for Horcoff, so Cole might be the better option to shop. He’s been very versatile for the Stars this season. He’s been able to step up and produce some nights when needed. He throws his weight around and constantly drives hard to the net. If traded, the Stars can call up Colton Sceviour or Travis Morin from the minors to fill his spot if a player is not included in the return.

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4. Trade Vernon Fiddler

Vernon Fiddler
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Fiddler provides more than his production indicates. He is very reliable in the faceoff circle, he is a key piece of the penalty kill and he provides a solid combination of speed and sandpaper on the fourth line. He can also be used on the third line to shut down the opposition. A playoff team looking for a veteran addition for the bottom two lines of their lineup should be interested in Fiddler.

If the return is not to the Stars' liking, they can easily keep him for a playoff push this year and then let him walk in the summer. It is clear he is not part of the future in Dallas, but he can help the team make the playoffs this year if he is not dealt.

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3. Trade Ray Whitney

Ray Whitney
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Whitney was a revelation for Dallas last season. He continued his mesmerizing production despite his aging body. This season, he seems to have lost a step. His speed and passing has been a little off compared to last season. He has been the most commonly seen Stars player in trade rumors this season. With an expiring contract this summer, I suspect Whitney will be dealt by the Mar. 5 deadline.

Phoenix has been in most of the Whitney trade rumors, but any team looking for a veteran playmaker with strong leadership qualities can use a player like Whitney. He has been moved around the lineup a bit this season but has seen most of his time in the bottom two lines. If he is traded, the Stars can call up a player from the minors to try to fill his role.

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2. Acquire a Second-Line Center

Cody Eakin
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Cody Eakin is not a bad second-line center by any means. He is a solid, two-way player with a bright future ahead of him. His puck pursuit, speed and puck possession skills are superb, and he distributes the puck well. He is also good on faceoffs, but everything comes together for him in a checking role. He is best utilized as a third line checking center. If the Stars can find a true second-line center, Eakin can be moved down to the third line where he is most effective.

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1. Acquire a Top-Pairing Defenseman

Trevor Daley
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest need for the Stars is a true top-pairing defenseman. It has been the same since Sergei Zubov left years ago. Stephane Robidas was the default top defenseman before Alex Goligoski was brought in. Robidas helped develop Brenden Dillon into the wonder he is today, but Robidas is coming off a broken leg at the age of 36. His contract expires this summer, but I don’t expect him to be traded. His right-handed shot and ability to be a shutdown pairing with Dillon is very helpful to the team.

Goligoski is not a top defender. He provides offensive production, but his defensive play has been tough to watch. If a top defenseman can be brought in, Goligoski can be moved off the top pairing where his minutes will be lessened, but his play should be more effective in reduced role.

Trevor Daley seems to be a trade possibility every season, but the Stars might want to test the trade market for him now. He’s a strong skater, and he’s been fairly reliable in his own zone. The Stars just need more from him. Daley may be the best piece to trade away as part of a package in order to bring in an upgrade on defense.