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Posted By Travis Currie On Feb 21 2011 @ 1:44 pm In Dallas Stars | 2 Comments

The only thing certain about this year’s trade deadline is that Joe Nieuwendyk definitely has his work cut out for him.

Sell ? Buy ? Stand pat ?

Up until the All-Star break it seemed clear that the Stars would be a playoff team and shipping anybody out was not an option. Even Brad Richards.

Things have fogged up dramatically since then. The team is on a horrible 1-8 skid and not only lost it’s grip on the Pacific division but is now fighting for their playoff lives. Injuries to Jamie Benn, Adam Burish, Nik Grossman, and now Brad Richards are really taking their toll and it’s uncertain now as to what direction this team is headed. Though down seems to be the current trend.

Brad Richards of course is a UFA at the end of the season and is someone that plenty of teams have had their eyes on as the season started. His current situation could make him ineligible to be traded now even if that’s the direction Joe Nieuwendyk was forced to go. I say forced because obviously the team still having no owner and no money to spend may make it impossible to re-sign him and remaining in Dallas may be an undesirable option for him anyways given the circumstances. So if he’s healthy enough to be traded, Nieuwendyk will have to decide the fate of this team: trade their best player to ensure at least something comes back in return, or take his chances on Richards re-signing before free agency hits on July 1st and risk losing him for nothing. He has made it clear though that his wishes are to keep him in Dallas.

Mike Ribeiro was shopped in the summer but there were no takers. That could change now as teams may be desperate for another scoring center for a playoff push and Ribeiro is having a nice bounce-back season offensively too. He could be someone the Stars dangle.

James Neal would definitely attract interest. He’s a young power forward and has shown he can put the puck in the net. It would strictly be a case of having to give something to get something.  Scott Glennie and Tomas Vincour are waiting in the wings as well and Vincour has been good so far so Nieuwendyk may feel comfortable in dealing Neal. If the Stars are going to have to part with one of their young studs that have any type of market value, they would part with him ahead of Jamie Benn or Loui Eriksson.

Matt Niskanen has been the fanbase’s whipping boy for the past couple of seasons and probably doesn’t hold a lot of market value around the league. But he is a young defenseman who still has some potential and could be someone the Stars move to shed a little bit of salary or as part of any package deal.  That’s if there are any takers.

The Stars are in need of some stability on the back end and a guy who can push the puck up the ice as well. Those voids could be filled in the form of one player or possibly two.  Any major deal would have to see at least the same money going out as what would be coming in. So don’t expect any big names coming in in exchange for prospects or draft picks. It will likely be player for player, dollar for dollar.

Don’t look for a complete overhaul either. Management would rather build a winner sooner than later and a lot of the right pieces are in place as of now. That doesn’t mean there won’t be any picks or prospects coming our way in any deals but it’s likely that the center piece of any major deal would involve someone who’s in the 20 to 25 years of age range who can fill a void for this team immediately and be here for the long run as well.

It’s difficult to predict what will happen this year but one thing you can bet on for sure is that Joe Nieuwendyk will be spending a lot of time on the phone over the next week.

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