In a time when the Dallas Stars need all the help they can get in their push for a playoff spot, Trevor Daley has gone above and beyond in stepping up.
Known for his smooth skating and elusive speed, Daley settled in nicely as an underrated but efficient second-pairing defenseman. Since the Stars traded Stephane Robidas to the Anaheim Ducks, he has been asked to play a bigger role. He has been partnered with Alex Goligoski on the top pairing for the Stars.
The role changed more than just his partner, though. Before Robidas was traded, Daley saw 22 minutes of ice time or more 13 times in 47 games. He has played 22 minutes or more in eight out of 11 games since the trade, increasing his average from just under 20 minutes a game to 22:42.
The increased ice time and bigger role has also led to improved production recently. He tallied one point in the first 15 games of the season and five points through the first 31 games. Over the past 11 games, however, he has scored two goals and added three assists.
It is also important to note that he does not get primary power play time. Goligsoki is the only defenseman on the Stars’ first power play unit, and Daley shares the blue line with Sergei Gonchar on the second unit. Two of his six goals this season are game-winners and only one of his 16 points came on the power play.
Daley’s 6.74 shooting percent is the second-best of his NHL career, and his 91 shots are good for second among the Stars’ defensemen. He should end the season near his career-high of 45 hits, and his 32 penalty minutes are the second-lowest of his career if his 27-game rookie season and the truncated lockout season of 2013 are taken into account.
Daley may not be a big offensive producer or thundering defensive presence, but he plays a responsible two-way game and fits the Stars’ system nicely. He is a stable part of the defensive unit, and his speed helps generate rushes up ice and scoring chances.
Despite some inconsistency the Stars have endured on defense this season, Daley has been a sturdy piece of the puzzle. His response to the increased role and ice time is a pleasant surprise that the Stars and their fans hope will continue as the battle for the playoffs rages on.