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Stars want top-two d-man, but know they’re ‘hard to find’

May 1, 2014, 1:05 PM EDT

LindyRuff2 AP

In the aftermath of their playoff elimination to Anaheim, the Dallas Stars seem to be focused on one specific area to improve next season — defense.

From the Dallas Morning-News:

“Moving forward, it would be great to have a No. 1 or No. 2 defenseman, but there are 25 other teams that want the same thing,” [Stars GM Jim] Nill said. “That’s probably something we’ll have to draft and develop. It’s hard to find a true No. 1 defenseman.”

While [Lindy] Ruff added: “We came a long way from the start of the year to the end of the year on the defending front, on what we gave up, the shots we gave up and the quality of chances we gave up. We made good strides. I still believe we are a big defender away from being a harder team to play against. I think we have some young guys that could easily step in there. [Patrik] Nemeth got a little bit a taste of it. I have high hopes for other players in the organization as well that I’ve seen play.”

It was no huge secret Dallas’ Achilles heel in the postseason was its lack of blueline talent and depth. When Brenden Dillion — a good young d-man, but not an elite one — out for the first five games, Dallas rolled with a six-man unit comprised of Trevor Daley, Alex Goligoski, Sergei Gonchar, Jordie Benn, Kevin Connauton and Patrik Nemeth. The result? Dallas surrendered 20 goals over the six-game series, including seven on the power play — the most allowed by any team in the opening playoff round.

The Stars’ prospect cupboard has some intriguing stuff in it. The big one — literally — is Jamie Oleksiak, the 6-foot-7, 240-pounder taken 14th overall at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Still just 21, Oleksiak wasn’t NHL ready the past two years (only playing in 23 games) but could be the future of Dallas’ defense.

Even with Oleksiak on the way, it’ll be interesting to see what Nill does in free agency. He made a big splash last summer by signing Gonchar to a two-year, $10 million deal and, given the relative lack of age an experience on the current blueline, could go the veteran route again — though it’s worth noting that, based on pending UFA projections, there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of top-two d-men available.

  1. getadealdonealready - May 1, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    They run about 100 mil, but worth every stinking penny!

  2. gnashty - May 1, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    So do the Flyers. Granted I am excited to see Gostisbehere next year.

    • esracerx46 - May 1, 2014 at 1:24 PM

      And the wings…a right handed one to be more specific

  3. rbbbaron - May 1, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    Overpaid for Gonchar, but that was probably his best option for filling a glaring need. Moving Robidas didn’t help, but I’m guessing he was on his way out in any case.

  4. valoisvipers - May 1, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    The Pens may not have the money to re-up Niskanen, maybe Nill can undo the previous administration’s mistake but there will be a line up with deep pockets all trying to get him.

  5. prosportswashington - May 1, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    Having a great top defensive pairing might help you alot during the regular season, but the teams that win alot in the playoffs have great depth

    • c9castine - May 1, 2014 at 4:41 PM

      ?? well if they add a top pairing defender does that not make you deeper?

      • lordfletcher - May 1, 2014 at 6:04 PM

        Look at the Wild for a prime example.

        With Suter, a top D team even without flashy names… without, bottom 5 easy

      • prosportswashington - May 2, 2014 at 9:45 AM

        Good point, what I meant was that over-spending for a top-5 D-man isn’t always the way to go

  6. prd797 - May 1, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Not going to find many of those types of players on the unrestricted free agent market, and you’d have to seriously overpay to pry away an RFA from another team.

    Dallas’s best bet is to groom and develop d-men through drafting and signing young talent. Many of the top d-men in the league didn’t get there overnight, after all.

  7. djshnooks - May 1, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    Why forward prospects do you have to give Buffalo for Ehrhoff or Myers?

  8. jhmiddleton81 - May 2, 2014 at 12:52 AM

    Trade for Ehrhoff and sign Niskanen if they have money and they will be awesome when all their prospects develop, like Faksa, Oleksiak, Campbell, and Ritchie. They would be awesome young team like the Hawks

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