The Dallas Stars are looking for just one thing in particular at the 2023 Trade Deadline, a top-six forward. They are a legitimate threat to win the Western Conference as they sit in first place by four points. They have a strong group all the way through, but are looking for an upgrade to be able to play with Mason Marchment and Tyler Seguin.
The player the Stars have in the middle of the two forwards is Radek Faksa, and instead of adding at the deadline, they will need to upgrade. This means someone will have to be moved out in order to bring a more impactful player in for their run this season. The player I have in mind is indeed Faksa as his cap hit and contributions aren’t on the same level and the Stars can’t go into another season with holes at forward to sink them.
The most likely scenario for the Stars is to send Faksa back in a trade that brings in a top-six forward. So, I am going to look at three teams that the Stars will be in contact with about an upgrade of that kind and how Faksa’s departure would benefit both sides in each potential deal.
The player of interest for the Stars here is Patrick Kane or even potentially Max Domi. Both have led the Chicago Blackhawks’ offence this season as the leading scorers with 35 points a piece. Domi has had a career resurgence while Kane has had a down year for his standards. Depending on how much the Stars want to spend and if Kane actually wants to be traded this season, a deal with the Blackhawks could go very different ways.
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Domi is well-equipped for playoff hockey as he plays a rough game. He has played better as a centerman and the Stars have a spot down the middle for him to fill. He also has the ability to shift over to the wing, which works well in conjunction with Seguin who is utilized at center as well on the line Domi would join. As for Kane, the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner has had tons of playoff success, and since he’s a winger, Seguin can be permanently moved to center.
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First off, moving Faksa to the Blackhawks helps to free up cap space to complete a deal. Domi is far less expensive than Kane, even at 50 percent retained, but Kane is the prize of the deadline if he’s available. Faksa has a cap hit of $3.25 million average annual value (AAV) for two more seasons and has a five-team no-trade list that shouldn’t impact a trade. Moving his cap hit off the books for two more seasons for a rental this season would greatly help the Stars’ situation moving forward as well as their playoff chances this season. On a Blackhawks’ roster that is being broken down this season and the offseason, Faksa can help eat some money for the coming seasons and play a middle-six role on a bottom-feeder.
St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues have already made a big trade. Initially, Vladimir Tarasenko was on the Stars’ radar, but has since been dealt. That doesn’t mean there isn’t still a top-six talent available for them to target for cheaper who is built for playoff hockey. Ivan Barbashev should still be dealt at the deadline as he is another rental that is likely on the move.
The Stars can actually save some money and add another depth piece where needed by acquiring Barbashev and sending over Faksa. Barbashev has a cap hit of only $2.25 million for the remainder of the season and in a year where he’s regressed, has nine goals and 24 points. To be fair, the Blues in general haven’t been the same team, impacting all of the offensive output.
Barbashev can slide in on the wing or center and is able to score, pass the puck, and play physically. A potential line of Marchment, Seguin, and Barbashev would be a deadly power-forward line that can put the puck in the back of the net. As for Faksa’s impact on the Blues; that is a team that is retooling and are hoping to come back next season better than they have in this one. Tarasenko is gone while Barbashev, Ryan O’Reilly, and Noel Acciari are also expected to be moved from that forward group. They will be down two centermen and Faksa could fill a third-line role while picking up some of the slack defensively.
The Philadelphia Flyers have one of the remaining top rental wingers, James van Riemsdyk, who will be available at the trade deadline for the Stars to target and has actually been linked to them already. There is no doubt that the Flyers will be retaining half of his salary in any trade deadline deal that would cost the Stars $3.5 million to offset. Faksa’s cap hit almost perfectly lines up with that.
The Flyers are in a rebuild and constantly have injuries throughout the lineup. Sean Couturier once again suffered a major injury this season and it has forced open a spot at center. The roster is beaten down and inexperienced, and the 29-year-old, eight-year veteran Faksa can provide some stability. van Riemsdyk provides the Stars with a top-six winger who is as consistent as anyone at scoring goals while the Flyers set the stage for next season.
Sometimes it’s difficult to move a contract like Faksa’s and other times things work out. These are three solid options to move the two-way center so that the Stars have a better chance at a Stanley Cup this season and more room to work with in the future. Though there hasn’t been room in the top nine for most of the season for Faksa, he is still a solid third-line center in the NHL.