The silver lining in the Stars' trade deadline fire sale

When the NHL playoffs start, Patrick Eaves and Jordie Benn are going to be heralded as two of the best trade deadline acquisitions.

It’s going to be a common storyline on broadcasts as the Anaheim Ducks and Montreal Canadiens move through the playoffs -- Eaves and Benn helped make his team better.

Eaves has eight goals and 10 points in 16 games with the Ducks. When you combine his season totals, he’ll be a 30-goal scorer for the first time in his NHL career and is likely going to be rewarded for it handsomely in his next contract.

Benn, who was often undervalued in Dallas, has turned into a staple for the Montreal Canadiens. Dallas general manager Jim Nill talked about how the expansion draft was a key reason for dealing Benn, and now the Canadiens are reportedly scrambling to figure out how to protect the defenseman.

Based on national headlines and stat lines, the Ducks and Canadiens made out pretty well in the trade.

But how did Dallas handle the trade deadline?

Whether they admit it publicly or not, the Stars management group had already accepted the team would miss the playoffs this season. So each move was ideally put in place to better set up Dallas for the future.

Dallas got a conditional second-round pick in return for Eaves. That pick will turn into a first-round selection if the Ducks reach the Western Conference Finals.

The upcoming draft is considered devoid of generational talent at the top of the draft, but the efficient scouting departments should be able to identify at least a dozen future NHL players within the first 62 picks (remember 31 picks per round this year, thanks to Vegas).

The Stars traded Johnny Oduya to the Chicago Blackhawks for a conditional fourth-round pick next season and Mark McNeill, a former first-round pick looking for a change of pace.

At first glance, it was a poor deal for Dallas and it looked like a poor return for a player with multiple Stanley Cup rings.

However, hindsight being 20/20, there actually wasn’t much of a market for Oduya. He was injured and had only played 37 games for Dallas, and his post-deadline play -- even when healthy -- hasn’t been missed by the Stars.

While McNeill is likely a career AHLer, grabbing a fourth-round draft pick -- potentially even a third if Chicago reaches the conference finals -- actually turned out pretty well for an aging asset.

The Benn deal was the most surprising. He wasn’t really on the block until Montreal called with an offer and Dallas took a long, hard look at the situation.

Dallas got a fourth-round pick in return, while Greg Pateryn was also involved in the deal. Pateryn has since shown he could be a viable seventh defenseman for the Stars next season, and Jim Nill could potentially send that fourth-round pick to Vegas to protect another player from expansion (such deals are allowed).

The Stars final trade was the most obvious “win” of the group. Dallas sent Lauri Korpikoski to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Dillon Heatherington.

Since the trade, Korpikoski has been largely invisible in seven games with Columbus. On the other end, Heatherington is now one of the Stars’ top defensive prospects and my ninth-ranked prospect in the Stars system.

So in the end, the Stars turned three expiring contracts and a potential expansion loss into three draft picks, a top-10 prospect, and an AHL depth player.

With hindsight being 20/20, albeit only a month, the Stars found a silver lining at the deadline in a lost season and made themselves better for the future.

Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter @SeanShapiro.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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