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The Stars and the case to trade for Jakob Chychrun
Heading into the deadline, the Stars have to be willing to make moves that improve the chances of actually winning in the Jamie Benn era.
There’s a natural reflex for Stars fans to clench up around the trade deadline.
It’s understandable. The Stars recent track record from February on is spotty at best.
Whether it’s Ken Hitchock’s team cratering and missing the playoffs — and blaming the cratering on Ben Bishop’s injury — or Jim Nill’s consistent belief in liking where his team is at and doing little at the deadline, Stars fans have learned to cope with disappointment in the latter stages of the regular season.
Even the year the Stars did swing big and made a move at the trade deadline for Mats Zuccarello, it came with unplanned disappointment of the new acquisition breaking his arm in his first game with the franchise.
Which brings us to the current state of the Stars, who are first place in the Western Conference, but 3-2-5 in their last 10 games.
They’ve lost an NHL-leading 12 games in overtime and a loss on Saturday to the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets doesn’t help the spirits of a fanbase, especially when other teams are starting to load up before the deadline.
It also doesn’t help that the Colorado Avalanche, even with a Cale Makar injury, have decided they are ready to enter the race for the Central Division title.
The Stars will be in the playoffs, they have a 94 percent chance of making it in according to MoneyPuck, but the fanbase is worried of what that playoff showing will look like.
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The Stars, internally, have also already made big moves in their minds.
They spent a first-round pick on Nils Lundkvist in the offseason, that’s a price Nill isn’t normally willing to match. Mason Marchment’s offensive sputtering has been frustrating, but him turning things around in time for the postseason would justify his price tag after one strong offensive season in Florida.
I’m willing to give the Stars that, they spent big by their standards, cool. But they need to be willing to spend more.
Nibbling around the edges, adding a depth defenseman or middle-six veteran forward, feels like a waste. The Stars already have enough depth defensemen and middle-six veterans, too many in fact.
Simply put, the Stars should be trading for Jakob Chychrun.
Currently in the “scratched for trade purposes” purgatory with the Arizona Coyotes, the defenseman represents a move for both the short and long-term of the franchise.
Chychrun is 24 and still has two years after this season on a contract worth $4.6 million per season. Based off his performance in Arizona, he’s worth even more than that.
(Here’s a good visualization of what Chychrun does for a bad Coyotes team offensively. Red is good, blue is bad. The left image is Arizona with Chychrun on the ice, the right is without him.)
And as good as Colin Miller has been compared to expectations, the Stars are going to be required to go shopping for defensive upgrades this offseason, so why not just make the move now?
It’ll be costly, sure, but let’s build a realistic trade offer.
It starts with a first-round pick in 2024 and a second-round pick in either 2023 or 2024. Personally I’d try to push it to 2025 for the second rounder, but realistically why would you do that if you were Arizona?
Then it comes with giving Arizona it’s choice from the Stars prospect pool.
And if the Coyotes have done any homework — and they have — they’ll make their choice from the grouping of Logan Stankoven, Thomas Harley, Maverick Bourque, or Wyatt Johnston.
From a Stars perspective ideally Harley is the choice, I’m moving out a defensive prospect that was just further blocked by Chychrun, but I’m also not saying no to the deal if Johnston, Stankoven, or Bourque are required to get the deal done.
I get it, people love potential and they love prospects. But you know what they also love?
Last time I checked, for all the dozens of can’t miss prospects the Stars have had, they’ve only ever won one Stanley Cup.
No matter what you think about the long-term future of that quadrant of prospects, none of them move the Stars closer to a Stanley Cup in 2023, 2024 or even 2025 more than Chychrun will.
And that’s the window you have to capitalize on.
Joe Pavelski didn’t sign an extension in Dallas to kick things down the road. Jamie Benn isn’t sacrificing minutes for a personal career extension.
The Stars last week, even though they lost both games late, proved they could play with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins for 60 minutes. Being in the Western Conference, which is wide open, don’t you owe it to the franchise to better yourself so you have the best shot of winning more than just the Western Conference title?