Stars have eye on future as deadline looms

The NHL’s trade deadline hits at 2 p.m. CT and by then or shortly thereafter all the speculation about what the Dallas Stars may or may not do as far as trades will end. We will have all the answers. For now, all we can do is speculate.

It’s easy to get caught up in the Stars’ recent little run here and lose sight of the big picture, which is the future. The Stars want to be consistent contender, not a team battling for a lower playoff spot year in and year out. To build that is going to take a little time. The Stars want to do that by getting younger and building around Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Alex Goligoski, Trevor Daley and Kari Lehtonen.

It’s also tough to ignore the Stars’ little run here and where they sit as Monday’s deadline looms. They are in a playoff spot, just one point out of seventh place, three points out of sixth and three points away from the Pacific Division lead. At the same time, they only have a three point margin over eleventh place. Nothing is secure here. They haven’t locked up anything. There’s a lot of hockey left to be played.

So, the Stars are in a spot where they’d like to try to balance the present and the future as much as possible, but things still tilt towards the future. Stars owner Tom Gaglardi, who has made that clear several times, did it again on Fox 4 Sunday night.

“It’s important to make the playoffs. We are trying very hard to do it, but I don’t think it’s the biggest goal in the world for us right now,” Gaglardi said. “What we want to try to do is make our team better for longer. We think it’s a playoff team and as a consequence, Joe Nieuwendyk is listening to a lot of teams who are preying on some of our older, better players. Those are conversations we think at today’s cycle, where we are as a team, we have to listen to.”

So that means they are going to listen to offers for a guy like Steve Ott. He is the kind of player teams covet at the deadline. He can win faceoffs, kill penalties, bring physicality and grit, and pop in some goals, too. And for the Stars, he can bring a nice return.

But the Stars listening doesn’t mean they are going to move him. It will take a great deal for someone to pry Ott out of Dallas, and the Stars are going to need a young player who, I believe, can will help them now and be a part of the plan moving forward.

The Stars will listen to offers for other players as well and it likely will be the same scenario – it will cost to get them. Mike Ribeiro’s name has been in the rumor mill. Other names probably will come up as well. They should listen.

Again, listening doesn’t mean they have to do anything. Could they do nothing? Sure. No reason to make a deal just to make a deal. If there’s a deal that fits what you’re trying to do, make it. If there’s nothing there, don’t. Could they do some minor deal to help them now? That’s possible, too. The playoffs may not “biggest goal in the world right now,” but it is still a goal and something like that isn’t going to derail the master plan, which is to get better in the long run.