Trade Series Articles
Writer’s Twitter: @ChrisMottHockey
In this installment of our trade series, we take a look at the Dallas Stars and see whom the Devils may want to target from them via trade. Both the Devils and the Stars were already trade partners this past season as the Devils traded Ben Lovejoy to Dallas in exchange for defenseman Connor Carrick and what is now the 80th-overall pick. The Stars clawed their way into the playoffs by finishing as the first wild-card team in the Western Conference. They later knocked out the Central Division champion Nashville Predators. The Stars run to the cup would end soon after, as although they forced a game 7, they ultimately lost in double overtime to the eventual Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. The Stars do have some cap space to make some moves if they want, but their efforts will also be focused on re-signing players like Mats Zuccarello. For now, though, let us discuss which players the Devils should consider trading for.
Nichushkin is a former 10th-overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft who plays on either wing. The Russian winger had a good rookie season posting 14 goals and 20 assists with a +/- rating of +20 in 79 games. After that season, it was believed around the league that he would be able to take another step and become a dynamic player in the NHL. The problem is that never panned out. In 2014-15, he only played in eight games for the Stars totaling one assist. The following year Nichushkin played in 79 games and recorded 9 goals and 29 assists with a +/- of +2 before playing in the KHL the next two seasons. In his return to the NHL this year, he played in 57 games tallying 10 assists and a -4 plus/minus rating.
I believe Nichushkin could be a player the Stars would be willing to part with, and it is possible that he could be a player where a change of scenery may do him well. There are no rumblings that indicate Dallas wants to move on from him. However, I just simply see this as an opportunity for Devils’ general manager Ray Shero to buy low and get a possibly higher return than expected. If Shero could acquire him without giving up too much in return, it could be a good steal.
Rhett Gardner – who was drafted 116th overall in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL Draft – is a 23-year-old center who can also play left wing. He has been playing the past four seasons at the University of North Dakota with a little time spent with the Stars’ AHL affiliate in Texas. During his time with the Texas Stars, he had four goals and one assist in 11 games.
Gardner currently has two seasons left on his contract and could provide some depth to the Devils’ system. Again, another player I would consider a buy-low option with the potential for high reward. Gardner has a shot to be on the Stars’ main roster next season and the Stars, like any successful Cup winning team, will need depth. If they’re willing to move him, I think Shero should reach out. But do not expect the price to be cheap.
Riley Tufte is a 21-year-old left winger who was drafted 25th overall in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft. The American forward has played the last three seasons at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he has won a championship. Tufte has posted double-digit point totals in each season, playing roughly 40 games each year. He has also played for the U17, U18, and U20 teams. Again, Tufte falls into a similar category as Gardner where he could help the Stars next season, but it wouldn’t hurt to call and ask about him. Although, as I feel about Gardner, the price tag may be pretty hefty. This is especially true given Tufte just recently signed with the Stars.
In conclusion, these are the players from the Stars that I would encourage Shero to inquire about. It does not mean the Devils have a phenomenal chance of acquiring them, or that the Stars are willing to move any of these players. For all we know, there could be scouting information on these players that would make the Devils choose to stay away. These are just the players that I would want the Devils to reach out for because they can help improve the team not only now, but in the future as well.