Will Dallas’ Minor Moves Be Enough to Make the Playoffs?

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: Dallas Stars players celebrate after the game against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on March 20, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

The Dallas Stars traded two fourth-round picks to acquire Scott Wedgewood and Vladislav Namestnikov in two separate trade deadline deals. The Stars were never going to be in the sweepstakes for top-tier rentals, like Claude Giroux or Andrew Copp, but Dallas needed to make a move to dispel the holes in the bottom forward lines. General manager Jim Nill sent out mixed messages over the past month regarding the Stars as a Stanley Cup contender. After extending 37-year-old Joe Pavelski, it became clear the Stars would not be selling off pieces for draft picks. Looking over the Stars’ trades at the deadline, do they have enough to make a playoff run?

Namestnikov and Wedgewood

These names weren’t the sexiest deadline adds, but the Stars came into the day desperate for depth. I’ve been openly complaining about the Stars’ bottom six over the past few weeks, as it has become a carousel of ineffective line changes. Nasmestnikov is the perfect player to fill in on those bottom lines. He is a hard skater, can dish out hits, blocks shots, and has some scoring prowess. In the lineup, he can easily replace players like Joel Kiviranta and Riley Damiani.

Who would have thought the Stars would need goalie depth at all this season? They had four possible starters on the roster after the team signed Brayden Holtby in the offseason. Nill and coach Rick Bowness decided to keep Jake Oettinger in the American Hockey League, but an Anton Khudobin injury foiled that plan. Holtby then got injured, causing Oettinger to handle most of the workload in net.

The goalie situation only worsened, as Ben Bishop chose to retire after one game in the AHL, and Khudobin underwent hip surgery, which may take him six months to recover. Bishop is, again, injured, leaving Oettinger as the only healthy player from what was a four-person competition at goaltender.

Wedgewood is a decent pick-up for goaltender depth. He has played at a backup level all season, playing three games with the Devils before being claimed on waivers by the Arizona Coyotes. Wedgewood posted a 3.16 goals-against average with a .909 save percentage over 29 games. He will be helpful if Holtby’s injury is long-term.

Grading the Trades

Namestnikov: B

The former first-round pick is a good get for a Stars team that needed a reliable grinder. He will likely join Michael Raffl and Luke Glendenning to form a formidable shutdown line when Dallas is in their defensive zone. Namestnikov is a solid addition to the penalty kill, as he seems like a well-rounded player in every aspect of the game.

What made me grade this down a little was how long it took Stars management to trade for Namestikov. I understand if Nill was waiting on Pavelski’s to sign his extension, but that happened ten days ago. The Stars have played five games since Pavelski’s re-signing went public. Namestnikov wasn’t a top name to be moved, and the Detriot Red Wings were an assumed rebuilder since the offseason. I don’t like how long it took to strike a deal for him.

Wedgewood: C

This will be a good move if Holtby’s injury is more extensive. It’s crazy that Wedgewood was waived by the Devils, as they are one of the worst teams in the NHL this season. Wedgewood was not awful in New Jersey or Arizona, but with both teams near the bottom of their divisions, the 29-year old was likely to be flipped to another team.

I think a fourth-round pick is a steep price for a depth goalie. I know the market this year was supposed to be crazy for goalies, but unless Wedgewood ends the year as the backup to Oettinger, then the Stars are on the wrong side of this trade. Toronto waived Petr Mrazek on Sunday. The Stars could have saved their pick and claimed a goalie who has slightly worse statistics but, in my opinion, more skill.

Rest of Season Outlook

Of their next 21 games, the Stars have ten matchups against contending teams. Dallas is one point out of the second wild-card spot with four games in hand over the Vegas Golden Knights. They are six points behind the St. Louis Blues and eight points behind the Nashville Predators for 3rd and 4th place in the Central Division.

The moves at the trade deadline will have a subtle effect on the Stars’ position in the standings. Namestnikov brings more skill to the lineup than the plugin players the Stars have been using, but he will need to make an immediate impact for this trade to be effective. Miro Heiskanen is still missing from the lineup due to injury, and if Holtby is out too, Dallas will be the underdog in the fight for the final playoff spot.

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