The NHL’s trade deadline day provided a whirlwind of deals, both expected and surprising, right to the final hour and beyond, except for the Dallas Stars. The lack of moves was not simply an inability to come to terms on a trade, it was a message being sent to the team.
There were several rumors involving the Stars leading up to the deadline, most of which were in regards to the team shipping out a few veterans and shopping for some bigger needs that may better be addressed in the summer. Instead, the Stars only pulled the trigger on one move the day of the deadline, and it was an unexpected move. Veterans Ray Whitney, Vernon Fiddler, Erik Cole and Trevor Daley were rumored to possibly be on the move, but instead, the Stars decided to upgrade between the pipes.
Backup Dan Ellis was traded to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Tim Thomas. The move brings the Stars a backup goalie with the experience of winning a Stanley Cup, earning a Conn Smythe Trophy and a silver Olympic medal. Thomas is very competitive and still capable of being a starting netminder, which will allow Kari Lehtonen more opportunities to rest without hurting the Stars’ chances for a win. The trade also signifies something to the rest of the team.
A message was sent to the team when the Stars decided to stand pat rather than trade away their expiring or troubling contracts. The message was belief. Management, specifically general manager Jim Nill, believes in the current team. He has seen their chemistry and believes in their ability to push forward together to the playoffs. He is aware that the season might come down to just a couple of points determining whether the Stars face another long summer or their first playoff game in six seasons. He believes the team with the addition of Thomas can cling on to the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The price for Dallas’ rumored players was not very high to begin with, and the trades this season seemed more standard than the past couple of seasons. Trading Whitney or Fiddler for a late draft pick would have left big holes in the lineup without a valid return for justification.
The message is clear. This is the team for the rest of the season. There is an opportunity to end the playoff drought, and management believes it can and will be done. It is on the players now to prove that keeping the current roster together was the right one. We will find out in about five weeks if the message was received.