When the Dallas Stars sent Mark Fistric to the Edmonton Oilers via trade they made a sound hockey decision. They picked up a quality third-round pick in return for a player who didn t have a clearly definable role for the upcoming season.
The Stars also dealt from a position of considerable depth. Brenden Dillon, Jordie Benn, and Jamie Oleksiak should be able to handle whatever minutes Fistric was scheduled to see. As a pending Unrestricted Free Agent, Fistric s time in the organization was running short.
Somewhat overlooked so far is the fact that the trade ends a mini-era in Dallas Stars history.
In the 2007-08 season the Stars were forced to turn to a group of kids who were anticipated to lead the Stars defensive corps for the foreseeable future. That season saw Fistric, Matt Niskanen, and Nicklas Grossmann get their first regular playing time in the NHL. They held their own remarkably well, and they helped the Stars to their last playoff appearance.
In 2008 Niskanen was a key member of the defense corps, playing alongside Sergei Zubov for most of the season. They routinely played against the top opposition, and young Niskanen held his own. Grossmann played a good chunk of the difficult minutes at a reasonable level for a young blueliner. Fistric was sheltered, but his presence in a depth role allowed the Stars to focus on acquiring a forward at the trade deadline instead of another defenseman.
That forward ended up being Brad Richards.
Unfortunately for the Stars the 2007-08 season was the high water mark for the next generation of the Stars defense. Niskanen regressed significantly under Marc Crawford. Grossmann was steady, but not a core piece. Fistric is still, more or less, exactly what he was when the Stars called him up.
The failure of this group to develop into the core of a solid NHL defense is a big reason the Stars are in the position they currently find themselves. The final remains of that group was sent packing to Edmonton as the Stars get ready to welcome the next group of prospects into the fold. The Stars need this next group to do what the previous could not, and that is develop.
Josh Lile has written for many different places and we're happy to have him join the WFAAteam.His work is most often featured on Defending Big D.You can follow him on Twitter at @JoshL1220 for hockey thoughts and pictures of food.