As many of you will note, when I took my little road trip through the NHL’s sunbelt region last week, I opined that the Dallas Stars would wind up crying, looking in from the outside when this spring’s Great Hunt for Lord Stanley’s Cup commenced. At the time they were languishing in tenth place in the Western Conference and in the midst of a 3-5-1 stretch. Compounding the predicament they found themselves in was the fact that 14 of their final remaining 16 games were against teams that held playoff positions at the time.
Since that time they have beaten Minnesota, lost to LA and dropped the first of a pair against the Anaheim Ducks to slide back to the 12th spot out west. The Edmonton Oilers slipped past them last night with their win over the now Iginla-less Cal-Gary Flames, as did the Nashville Predators by way of their shootout “loser point” against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Certainly there is still a chance Dallas could earn a playoff bid, but even if they did eek their way in I don’t think they are poised for a deep run. Given that, as well as the fact that GM Joe Nieuwendyk has already shipped off veteran defenseman Brenden Morrow to the Penguins in exchange for an AHL blueliner and a draft pick, I look for the Stars to be sellers going into tomorrow’s trade deadline.
If so, the marquee player Nieuwendyk has to put up on the trade blocks is Jaromir Jagr.
The Stars acquired the services of the 41-year-old Czech last summer, signing him to a one-year, $4.55 million contract. He’s proven his worth to the Stars, leading the team in scoring with 14 goals and 12 assists and recently tallied the 1,000th assist of his career.
The Stars apparently seem interested in bringing Jagr back at least for one more year, but if they are unsuccessful come tomorrow, then he’s likely going to wind up a hired gun for a team with a serious shot at the Stanley Cup.
One such team that might be willing to call Dallas and kick the tires is the Boston Bruins.
The trade deadline finds the Bs looking for some sort of edge as they battle the Montreal Canadiens for the Northeast Division crown. They also might be in need to do a little “keeping up with the Jones” with one of Jagr’s former employers, the Pittsburgh Penguins. In case your sports attention has been diverted towards March Madness, the start of Major League Baseball…or the 2013 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue…you may have missed that the Pens have padded their already formidable roster with the likes of the aforementioned Morrow from Dallas, Douglas Murray from the San Jose Sharks and Jarome Iginla from the Flames.
The Bruins have enough room in their checkbook to rent Jagr’s services for the spring. According to capgeek.com, Boston GM Peter Chiarelli has around $7 million at his disposal. Plus, Jagr’s goal production could certainly do nothing but help propel the Bruin’s to a deep postseason run. Currently their 2.74 G/G average is 12th in the NHL going into Monday’s action.
Chiarelli has some decisions to make of his own. He currently has five pending UFAs on his squad, (forwards Nathan Horton and Jay Pondolfo, defensemen Andrew Ference and Aaron Johnson, and goalkeeper Anton Khudobin), as well as four RFAs (forwards Jordon Caron, Kaspars Daugavins and Lane MacDermid along with goalkeper Tuukka Rask). Boston also has a first round pick in this June’s draft to dangle out there as well for Jagr bait.
Regardless of whether or not Beantown is Jagr’s next stop in his Hall of Fame career, I think the next day will show he’s pretty much done in Dallas.
UPDATE: Per Pierre LeBrun, the Stars hace decided they will trade Jagr before the deadline.
Told the Dallas Stars have decided to trade Jaromir Jagr. My sense is Boston leads the list of front-runners
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) April 2, 2013
Let the speculation continue…