It's no secret that the Stars have struggled defensively this season, and Trevor Daley is a player fans often point to as a part of the problem. He has skill but not much size (5-11, 207 pounds), and he's never developed into the elite two-way defenseman that some thought he might become when he was a young prospect.
But Daley still shows flashes of greatness at times, a good example of which came Saturday in a 5-4 win over Ottawa. Daley took a loose puck at center ice, skated around an Ottawa player and wristed a perfectly placed shot in the top corner for a goal. The game winner, it turns out.
Daley also had a flawless game on the defensive end of the ice, earning a plus-two rating for the game.
Of course, that performance only improved him to minus-6 for the season. And he only has five goals and 18 total points for the season.
So if the Stars are going to improve on defense in the future, can and will Daley be a part of the transition? His coach and teammates sure think so. He's still only 26, and he has the speed and skill to be a difference maker.
"I don't know if he realizes how good he is," Stephane Robidas said. "He has all the tools. He's still young, and when he jumps in the play like that, he's really special."
Added coach Marc Crawford: "He's such a good skater. When you get involved in the attack like he does, it does so much. He skates and has good offensive instincts."
Goalie Kari Lehtonen, who played for a bunch of bad teams in Atlanta, said he thinks the Stars can get better defensively with the players they already have on the roster, including Daley.
"They're more of a skilled defense and not just big guys," Lehtonen said. "We have some young defensemen. They're learning a lot, and I think they can be great in this league."