Stars should stop circling the Monopoly board, solve defenseman logjam

Asset management is a tricky thing.

At first, it’s always smart to gather as much as you can. Like in Monopoly, the first couple times around the board you buy no matter what. St. Charles place? Why not? The Boardwalk? Of course.

But eventually you have to make decisions on those properties. While carrying a handful of properties is a strong baseline, you aren’t going to win without making moves and finding the right combinations.

That’s where the Dallas Stars are when it comes to defense, especially after they added a pair of blue chipper prospects in Dillon Heatherington and Gavin Bayreuther in the past two weeks.

Julius Honka, Heatherington and Bayreuther give the Stars a trio of prospects in the AHL that are projected for NHL duty by at least the 2018-19 season. Honka is expected to finish this season in the NHL -- which looks like the right move for his development -- but it’s going to re-create an eight-defenseman logjam on the NHL club.

And an eight-defenseman alignment has been a frustrating part of the Stars’ dynamic. Especially with young defensemen like Stephen Johns, Jamie Oleksiak, and Patrik Nemeth being forced to endure a season skating on thin ice, while fellow young blue liner Esa Lindell has sunk and swam with varying results.

The logjam already cost the Stars one young promising defenseman. Mattias Backman was supposed to be the prize in the Erik Cole trade two years ago, but has grown frustrated with the defensive alignment in the organization and was recently re-assigned to the Hershey Bears in the AHL, a minor-league trade of sorts that spells the end of his time in victory green.

They haven’t bailed out completely, but the young defensemen on the NHL roster have become frustrated and worried about when they’re next healthy scratch will be and not worrying about their game.

The Stars have reached the point of the game where they’re holding onto a property from each color group on the board, even added in a railroad or two, but it’s all for naught without a proper deal to create the right combination.

For the moment, there are good feelings around the Stars prospect acquisition system.

The Bayreuther signing out of St. Laurence was a testament to the organization and Jim Nill’s willingness to spend extended time watching practices in the snowy northeast, while Rich Peverley also lent a hand. Trading for Heatherington was smart, and Dallas turned an expiring contract (Lauri Korpikoski) into a potential future NHL defenseman.

Now the Stars need to make the most of their stash in the offseason. You can keep circling the board, collecting the occasional $200 each time you can pass go, or you can start dealing and build combinations that will actually help the team win in the future.

Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter @SeanShapiro

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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