The Anaheim Ducks acquired defenseman Stephane Robidas from the Stars for a conditional fourth-round pick Tuesday. If the Ducks advance past the second round and Robidas plays in half of the games, the Stars will get a third-round pick instead. There is still time for more moves to be made, but even if that was the only move the Stars make before the deadline, there is an impact.
Brenden Dillon seemingly came out of nowhere last season and instantly became the new face of Dallas’ defense. His play even garnered some Calder Trophy arguments from writers and analysts around the league. A big reason for his quick ascent and smooth transition to the NHL was Robidas. Dillon lived the veteran’s house and learned his off-ice habits and routines. Dillon learned a lot from being paired with Robidas for most of last season. On a nightly basis, they were faced with the task of shutting down the opposition’s best line. Robidas’ impact was clear when the pairings were split late last season and Dillon struggling playing alongside other defensemen, even other veterans.
Dillon has since become arguably the Stars’ best defenseman. He is not scared to face big-name players, drop the gloves when needed or be key on the ice for key moments. Robidas’ fearlessness, attention to detail and determination echo through Dillon’s play.
Robidas averaged over 20 minutes of ice time each of the past seven seasons. Those minutes and responsibilities have been mainly distributed to Alex Goligoski and Trevor Daley. The two are serviceable defensemen, but are better suited for a second-pairing role. Veterans Aaron Rome and Sergei Gonchar are at a point in their careers where they are not best suited for the top pairing or that many minutes every other night, and younger defensemen Kevin Connauton and Jordie Benn are still developing.
One of the bright spots of the trade is that both Robidas and the Stars acknowledged that they would have been moving forward with a younger defense at the end of this season. Dealing Robidas ensured the Stars would receive something for his departure while he would be dealt to a Stanley Cup contender. The future for Dallas’ defense is bright and moving on from older defensemen is key to opening opportunities for those young defenders to step up and develop.
Jamie Oleksiak has already played several games in the NHL and has stellar potential. Also, Cameron Gaunce was called up earlier this season and showed he can be plugged into the lineup seamlessly. Prospects Patrick Nemeth, John Klingberg and Jyrki Jokipakka could be pushing for roster spots as early as next season.
Although trading Robidas was tough for the team and fans, both he and the Stars will be better off for it down the line. The current defensive unit has done well in his absence, and the up-and-coming prospects now have an added opportunity to crack the lineup.