STARS MAILBAG: Trades on the blue line, an odd expansion draft, and Hamhuis to Vegas?

This is the last mailbag before the Vegas Golden Knights make their selections in the NHL Expansion draft.

In honor of that historical moment, the NHL officially welcoming the roster of a 31st team, we should open this mailbag with a bit of trivia.

Did you know the Stars took part in the 1991 expansion draft?

Yes, even though they had already been a franchise for 24 years at the time the Minnesota North Stars made expansion picks in 1991 and even picked Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur, who had actually retired for a second time earlier that season.

Confused?

Here is how it worked.

In 1990 the owners of the North Stars owners wanted to move the team to San Jose, but the NHL wouldn’t allow it. As a compromise the Gund Brothers were allowed to sell the North Stars to Norm Green, and then were granted an expansion franchise in San Jose (today’s Sharks).

It was essentially an un-merging of the old Cleveland Barons and California Seals franchise that had merged in 1978.

There was then a dispersal draft where the Sharks got to pick players directly from the North Stars. After that both San Jose and Minnesota took part in a 10-round expansion draft. In the final round the of the expansion draft the North Stars drafted Lafleur from the Quebec Nordiques, who never came out of retirement to play for Minnesota.

Now let’s get started…

There might be a slight drop in demand after the expansion draft, but not enough to devalue the picks as trade assets.

Either way No. 3 and No. 29 could be used to land a key player that will help the Stars next season, and that trade could even be made as late as NHL Entry Draft itself.

It’s likely going to be Cody Eakin, Dan Hamhuis (see next question), or Stephen Johns.

I think there is a very good chance that Dan Hamhuis could be taken in the expansion draft if left exposed.

George McPhee isn’t drafting for the Stanley Cup this year, he’s drafting to be a playoff contender in three seasons and Hamhuis could help toward that ultimate goal of competing sooner than expected.

Veteran defenseman are an overly-priced hot commodity at the trade deadline each year and as a soon-to-be UFA Hamhuis would be a desirable rental for a team in the 2018 playoff race, especially for a contender that will inevitably have injury problems. With that in mind, McPhee could select Hamhuis to trade him in the middle of the season for future draft picks, and that’s a route I would certainly pursue if I were the Golden Knights GM.

I’ll take the under, but I do expect Vegas to have almost a dozen picks thanks to expansion-related trades.

I personally don’t like trading for Christopher Tanev because of where he would slot into the Stars lineup.

Personally I think the Stars have a good fit on the right side (Klingberg, Johns, Honka), and trying to shoehorn another righty into that mix doesn’t make much sense when there are other left-handed options available through trades or free agency.

You could go big and try to pry Oliver Ekman-Larsson away from the Arizona Coyotes and use the No. 3 pick as a key part of the deal. I also like Jake Muzzin as a potential Dallas defender, but the cost would probably include the No. 3 pick and in that case I’d prefer OEL.

Jonas Brodin or Matt Dumba are the more realistic options from the Minnesota Wild, and that may play out sooner than we think. The Wild are crunched a bit by expansion, and they are looking to get a first-round pick, maybe the Stars could put together a package that includes a player No. 29 and a third-round pick.

Marc Methot could also be an option from Ottawa, but at 31 I’d prefer the younger options listed before.

The Ducks defender Sami Vatanen could also be an intriguing name.

I don’t have any direct insight on the cost for Vatanen, but I believe it could take a defender (Jamie Oleksiak) going back to Anaheim for depth and a decent draft pick.

I go with Brodin, who I think has the most upside of those three players and fits best with the Stars roster.

Brodin is left-handed and can be a top-pairing defender. Vatanen is an upgrade for Dallas, but he’s more of a second-pairing defender in my mind, while I think trading for Tanev is devaluing the potential you currently have on the right side.

It’s going to be a steep price for Brodin, and Chuck Fletcher will try to drive up the price (and it would probably be even more expensive for a divisional foe). So I’d make the following offer:

Minnesota receives:
-Pick No. 29 in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft
-Second round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft
-Devin Shore
-Antti Niemi with 50 percent retained salary.

Dallas receives:
-Jonas Brodin
-Prospect Jordan Greenway

In this situation the Stars would get a top-pairing left-handed defender and an above average prospect. While the Wild would add a pair of high-value draft picks and an NHL player that is exempt from the expansion draft.

The Wild would take Niemi in this situation and immediately buy out the goalie. Niemi’s cap hit on a buyout would be $1.5 million (according to CapFriendly), but would then be split between the two teams. In the end the Wild would be saving to $2.53 million against the cap in this trade after losing Brodin’s $4.16 cap hit and taking on Shore’s very manageable $870,000 cap hit.

(Please remember this is just me playing armchair GM, not a reported deal of any sort.)

Stars want to have that done before the end of this month. They were waiting until the season came to an end at all levels, including the AHL playoffs that came to a close with the Grand Rapids Griffins hoisting the Calder Cup on Tuesday.

By doing so the Stars have kept all options open. Some hires may have already been made (including Rick Wilson), but Jim Nill wants to announce all hires at one time after he’s hired a full staff.

Roope Hintz will start the season with the Texas Stars in the AHL. The Finn could also earn a call-up to the NHL at some point this season.

First let me clarify, I think the overripe scenario works in cases. There are cases that over-ripening turns into spoiling and a prospect hits a plateau in the AHL — for example that could have been the case for Julius Honka if he wasn’t called up last season.

This season I could seen Denis Gurianov potentially grabbing an NHL roster spot. Remi Elie should also be in the conversation to start the season on the NHL roster.

Of course so much of this depends on what happens in free agency and the rest of the offseason.

Odds are Antoine Roussel will be protected. Of course a trade for another forward could push him into potentially be exposed.

For the right price I’d be very interested in signing Sam Gagner in Dallas. Key here is for the right price.

Cole Ully is entering the final year of his entry-level contract and I guess you could describe that as a make-or-break scenario.

I’d like to see Ully succeed, but I have a hard time seeing him reaching the NHL. Ully is a natural scorer and that’s obvious at times watching him play, but the numbers don’t back it up and he’s only scored 20 goals in 105 career AHL games.

Ully also needs a top-six role to succeed. He’s undersized (he’s listed at 6-foot, but I’ve looked him eye-to-eye in interviews and I’m 5-foot-10) and he will have to prove he can take the next step this season.

The one thing missing from Tyler Seguin’s career is individual playoff success.

Yes, he won a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins, but his overall playoff portfolio consists of injury-plagued performances or contributions as a role player rather than as an offensive leader on his team.

The Stars, if they make the playoffs, will need Seguin to be a leader in the postseason. They’ll need him to score goals at key moments and have enough trust defensively to play him in all situations. At this moment that isn’t the case.

Seguin is an elite scorer, but there are still steps he has to take to be a complete player — a so-called “winner” if we are pulling out cliches. If he takes those steps he could be a complete super star in this league.

Greg Pateryn is the perfect seventh defender to start next season, and this comes in a world where the Stars aren’t carrying eight defensemen for the third straight year.

Pateryn plays a simple game and you can expect the same thing each time he steps into the lineup. The ideal seventh defender is a player that can play the same game whether he’s been scratched for three weeks or has been playing consistently.

Patrik Nemeth, for example, couldn’t do that. He would come in after a period of being scratched and needed to build his game up over a couple games — he admitted as much to me during the season. There would be good moments to build on in that first game, and his second game back would often be his best. Unfortunately for Nemeth he rarely got that chance and often ended up watching from the press box again.

Pateryn on the other hand could step into a game and play like he’d been in the lineup for weeks. It wasn’t flashy or spectacular, but it’s reliable enough and you know what you are getting.

And if Pateryn ends up playing his way into a top-six role, good for him. Competition breeds better results in a seven-defender system and it can be used as a tool to push whichever player he’s ousted from the lineup.

That would likely be caused by an injury or extreme struggles by Ben Bishop. Stars are certainly hoping that’s not the case after giving him a six-year contract.

Goalie is No. 1 because it can be your undoing. The rest of the list depends on the makeup of a particular team.

The Stars need to draft a goalie this draft, and in an ideal world I’d take Jake Oettinger late in the first round.

If not Oettinger, there are a couple other goalies that should be available in the top-40 picks. And you can read about them in the draft guide.

Landon Bow and Philipe Desrosiers will likely be the Texas Stars goalies this season, and we’ll see if either can take a step forward while working with a full-time goalie coach in the AHL.

This question came in before Jonathan Drouin was traded to the Montreal Canadiens, which may have been the first domino in a string of moves.

There are also completed trades that we don’t know about. For example I’m fairly confident the Anaheim Ducks and Vegas Golden Knights have already agreed to a deal, but by NHL mandate they are not to announce such trades until June 21.

If it’s the only way to get a top-level asset pull the trigger now. Otherwise it’s smart to protect as much as possible and make a deal after the expansion draft.

It’s possible, sure, but I’m not sure why Edmonton would ever make the deal.

More diversity in the power play. The drop pass entry can actually be a very useful weapon, but it needs to be part of the arsenal and not the only solution.

If the Stars are more creative on the power play and force opponents to prepare for multiple looks they become more dangerous.

That combined with smarter decisions by the players should limit the number of shorthanded goals against.

Certainly would be value in that, let’s see if they do anything with American-born goalie Ben Bishop.

Stars are already pretty deep at center and at left wing, I think Alexander Radulov would be a better fit.

None of the pairs are locked in stone for next season, we can guess and speculate but with a new coaching staff I think any combination is possible.

I like the idea, I just have a hard time finding the Russian center to complete the group. All of the Russian forwards I’d like to sign/trade for are wingers or untouchable on their current team.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has made appearances at FC Dallas games. Maybe he’d embrace playoff hockey and bring his offensive line to chug beers before the game like Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota.

Don’t make the initial mistakes I did. Get a decent microphone right away and learn how to properly edit audio.

Have an outline, but don’t script it and let the conversation carry itself.

I’ve got quite a few books on my shelf that I’ve been looking forward to reading. I’m also working on my book 100 Things Stars Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.

Sorry, you didn’t do enough pull-ups at the combine.

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