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Trade Coverage

NHL Trade Buzz: Stars debating whether to buy or sell

Dallas has assets to move; three-game stretch before deadline will tell tale

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Welcome to the NHL Trade Buzz. There are eight days remaining until the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET, March 1), and the Dallas Stars are trying to find any spark possible before deciding whether to move assets.

Here's a look around the League at the latest deadline doings:

 

Dallas Stars

Decisions loom for some general managers who wanted to wait as long as possible to pick a path before the NHL Trade Deadline.

Buyers or sellers?

Among that group has been Stars GM Jim Nill. Dallas (23-27-10) is six points behind the Calgary Flames, who hold the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. The Stars also trail the Winnipeg Jets, Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks.

However, Dallas can't make up any ground until Friday because it is on its mandated five-day break. The Stars will then have three games before the deadline; home games against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday, Boston Bruins on Sunday and Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, the day before the deadline.

Nill said Tuesday that there's a simple explanation for the low level of trade activity so far this year.

"Too many teams still in playoff races," he said.

Entering Tuesday, 10 of the 14 teams not in a playoff spot are within six points of being so.

That uncertain future for teams has reduced the number of declared sellers to this point. But should Nill join the sellers' camp, he's got a couple of valuable players who will draw interest.

Video: DAL@NSH: Sharp sweeps a rebound into the cage for PPG

Dallas has two experienced forwards who will be unrestricted free agents this summer: left wing Patrick Sharp and right wing Patrick Eaves.

Sharp, 35, is on an expiring contract with a $5.9 million cap hit, according to capfriendly.com. His past history with the Chicago Blackhawks (2005-06 to 2014-15) could make him an ideal fit to return to a contending Blackhawks team.

But the market for Sharp could well extend beyond the Blackhawks.

Nill's more attractive asset, should he decide to consider offers, would appear to be Eaves. The 32-year-old is having an outstanding season with 21 goals in 59 games, bettering his 20 goals in 58 games as a rookie for the Ottawa Senators in 2005-06.

Eaves is on an expiring contract with an average annual value of $1 million. That's a contract almost any team could make room for, even those that are tight to the cap.

Moving Sharp could afford Nill some cap room so he can alter the mix of his roster. That would be an attractive road for the Stars, who have had difficulty finding much consistency from their goalies.

Dallas has $10.4 million in cap charges tied up in goalies Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen for 2017-18. Neither goalie has a sub-.910 save percentage or a goals-against average below 2.80 this season.

Moving Eaves could bring a decent return. Moving Eaves and Sharp would be the prudent thing to do if Nill decides he's a seller.

Video: CAR@DAL: Eaves buries his second goal on power play

 

Arizona Coyotes

GM John Chayka added a 2017 third-round pick by trading pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Michael Stone to the Calgary Flames on Monday. The Coyotes also get a 2018 fifth-round pick if Calgary re-signs Stone.

It's not likely the last of Chayka's moves.

The Coyotes, who are 13 points out of the Western Conference playoff race, have a bevy of pending unrestricted free agents, including right wing Radim Vrbata, center Martin Hanzal, right wing and captain Shane Doan and center Ryan White. Hanzal and Vrbata are the most likely to draw bids before the deadline.

Arizona's continuing youth movement has brought another season of growing pains. That's always easier to say than experience.

"I wish we weren't sellers," coach Dave Tippett told the Arizona Republic. "I wish we were buyers, but this is where we are.

"Unfortunately, we're sellers. That's where we are as a team."

Video: ARI@DET: DeAngelo rips a PPG short side

The Coyotes recalled Anthony DeAngelo, 21, to take Stone's roster spot. His arrival gives Arizona six players (DeAngelo, Jakob Chychrun, Christian Dvorak, Max Domi, Brendan Perlini and Lawson Crouse) who are 21 or younger.

 

Minnesota Wild

The Wild, the top team in the Western Conference with 84 points, are not in a make-or-break situation approaching the deadline. That doesn't mean GM Chuck Fletcher isn't looking around to add some depth or strength.

One pressing need the Wild appear to have is an upgrade to the third or fourth line.

Coach Bruce Boudreau's surprising comment last week that he wasn't comfortable trusting 23-year-old center Tyler Graovac in a defensive capacity against an opponent's top line has opened the door to some speculation.

Video: MIN@EDM: Graovac slots home goal from the doorstep

The Wild waived Graovac on Feb. 13, sent him to Iowa of the American Hockey League but recalled him Monday.

Minnesota had given a look to rookie right wing Alex Tuch, 20, who was the No. 18 pick of the 2014 NHL Draft. That listed six games before he was sent him back to Iowa.

Expect Fletcher to be involved before the deadline to deliver a roster upgrade.

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