Dallas eyes top-six forward, big defenseman
Stars NHL Trade Deadline outlookby Steve Hunt / NHL.com Correspondent
With the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline approaching at 3 p.m. ET on Monday, Feb. 29, NHL.com is taking a close look at what moves teams might be looking to make and whether they'll be buyers or sellers. Today, the Dallas Stars.
Record: 34-15-5, 73 points; 2nd in Central Division; 2nd in Western Conference
Unrestricted free agents: Jordie Benn, D; Jason Demers, D; Patrick Eaves, LW; Vernon Fiddler, C; Alex Goligoski, D; Travis Moen, LW; Colton Sceviour, C
Restricted free agents: Jamie Oleksiak, D; Brett Ritchie, RW
Needs: Top-six forward, No. 1 or No. 2 defenseman with size
Surpluses: Young defensemen
Projected 2016 draft picks: 6 (1 in first)
Projected 2017 draft picks: 7 (1 in first)
Players Potentially in Play: Patrik Nemeth, D; Oleksiak
Likely status: Buyer
Skinny: Now in his third season as the Stars general manager, Jim Nill has overhauled the roster from when he was hired in the spring of 2013 and most key pieces already are in place for the future. Captain Jamie Benn could become an unrestricted free agent after next season, while fellow offensive sparkplug Tyler Seguin is locked in through the end of the 2018-19 season, when second-line center Jason Spezza could join Seguin as an unrestricted free agent. Forward Patrick Sharp, an offseason addition to an already-potent Dallas attack, could become unrestricted after next season, as could fellow forward Ales Hemsky. The Stars have three young centers with Texas of the American Hockey League who are big parts of the organization's future in Jason Dickinson, the No. 29 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft; Radek Faksa, the No. 13 pick in the 2012 draft who has played well in his three NHL stints this season; and Devin Shore, a second-round pick in the 2012 draft, sidelined with a wrist injury. Dallas also is high on young forwards Curtis McKenzie and Brett Ritchie, who both already have NHL experience. The Stars likely are looking at considerable turnover at the blue line. Veterans Jason Demers and Alex Goligoski are unrestricted free agents after this season and it's unlikely they will both return. Fellow veteran Johnny Oduya is unrestricted after next season, when younger defensemen Jyrki Jokipakka and Nemeth will be restricted. John Klingberg, signed through the end of the 2019-20 season, is the only defenseman signed long term. Dallas has a bevy of young defensemen in the AHL, a list including Julius Honka, the No. 14 pick in the 2014 draft; Stephen Johns, acquired in the trade with the Chicago Blackhawks last summer that sent Sharp to Dallas; and Esa Lindell, who made his NHL debut earlier this season. Both veteran goaltenders, Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi, will become unrestricted free agents after the 2017-18 season. The big question for Nill is does the organization stay patient and wait for more young talent to arrive, or parlay this wealth of prospects into a big move now?