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Sunday Notes: Trade Deadline Looms

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

The NHL trade deadline is Monday afternoon, and Stars GM Jim Nill said he has been on the phone a lot lately.

“I am on the phones all day talking to every GM, seeing what’s out there,” Nill said. “They are picking my brain. I am picking their brain.”

But that doesn’t mean Nill is desperate to make a deal.

“Every day you are looking to do something, but I am not going to do something to bring in somebody short-term that is going to cost me assets and draft picks,” Nill said. “I am not doing that.”

If there’s a hockey trade out there, that could be a different story. But Nill has stayed the course with his team all season. He hasn’t made any moves since the summer. The only changes to the roster have been bringing players up from the Texas Stars of the AHL to cover injuries. Despite some recent ups and downs, the Stars still sit with the third-best record in the league.

“We are a contending team. I think any team that makes the playoffs has a chance to win,” Nill said. “We are [third] overall in the league. You can say what you want; we are doing something right. I like our team. I like our depth. I like the kids we have down in Texas. We are not in the mode where we are saying we have to do something. I like where we are at right now.

“It’s a tough time of year to get a top player for nothing in return. We’re dreaming. It’s not the way the business works. So, those fantasy hockey people out there, those things don’t happen this time of year.”

But that doesn’t keep the rumors from flying this time of year. And it doesn’t rule out Nill doing something before the deadline. What’s rumor and reality will be sorted out when the deadline hits at 2 p.m. (Central Time) on Monday. Stay tuned.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff knows the trade deadline is looming, but he doesn’t get caught up with it, and it’s not something he discusses with his players.

“I don’t spend any time talking about it,” he said. “I don’t spend any time acknowledging it; it’s just we’re going to play and move on.”

Still, he is not operating in a vacuum. He’s got a sense of what is going on and he knows where the Stars sit in the standings. He wouldn’t be surprised if the Stars are quiet at the deadline.

“I think it is pretty quiet,” Ruff said. “Like I said earlier in the year, I like our team. You are going to have little hills and valleys and need some character to show up to get you out of tough times, and I think we have. We’re healthy, so let’s just keep trying to motor on here.”

Center Jason Spezza has been through a few trade deadlines in his career, and he offered some thoughts on it from the players’ perspective.

“We feel pretty good about our team. I don’t feel like we are going to be involved in too much. If we are that’s great and if not then that’s great,” Spezza said. “There are some years you feel you need that push because you are trying to make the playoffs. We have a pretty good team. You just put trust in people that have built the team. If they feel we have a good team they’ll let it be and if they feel we need help they’ll get us help. We like our group.”

Spezza knows that other teams around the Stars will make moves. Chicago already has, adding forwards Andrew Ladd, Tomas Fleischmann and F Dale Weise this past week. But Spezza said it’s best not to get too caught up in that.

“When other teams make trades the initial reaction is, ‘Wow, they’ve gotten so much better.’ But I’ve been on teams that have made those deadline acquisitions, and it hasn’t worked. And I’ve been on teams where it’s worked a little bit,” he said. “I think you just worry about yourself. We feel good about going against anybody we have to play. We have some things we need to tighten up. We aren’t at the highest level we can play yet, but we have a good team. Teams will make moves around us, but I don’t think it will change our approach.”

Sunday was a scheduled day off for the Stars. They wrap up their three-game homestand Monday when they take on the Detroit Red Wings at American Airlines. It will be the front end of a back-to-back for the Stars, who play at Nashville on Tuesday.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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