Dallas Stars fans are quickly forgetting about those seemingly disappointing trades they made last week. Initially, there was a widespread outcry against General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk's decision to send off the team's leading scorer and assist man. But only initially – over the last few games since the trades, Stars fans have learned to embrace the rebuilding attitude, and have even discovered that these "prospects" are better than advertised.
It can even be argued that the Stars got the better end of the deal in both the Brenden Morrow and Jaromir Jagr trades with Pittsburgh and Boston. So far they have reaped the rewards of their returns in both deals. In his first game with the Texas Stars, Dallas' minor league affiliate (and currently the best team in the AHL), 20-year-old defenseman Joe Morrow, who the team acquired along with a sixth-round draft pick from the Penguins in exchange for Brenden Morrow and a third-round draft pick, recorded two assists. He has the physical size and skating ability to be a top-flight blue liner in the NHL and he is projected to be playing for Dallas by next season. At 6-foot-1 and 198 pounds, Morrow could definitely put on some weight, but his height and length provide him with intimidating stick range and a bazooka slapshot. Stars fans are expecting great things him.
Lane MacDermid was the other main prospect that Dallas got from Boston in return for legendary right winger Jaromir Jagr. This was a tough deal to pull the trigger on – if you are Dallas, you are giving up your top goal scorer and craftiest offensive creator who possesses a genius-level hockey IQ. A talented and physical skater, Jagr is still one of the league's best, even at 41, at reading where pucks will go and establishing angles on defensemen.
If you are Boston on the other hand, you are sending off one of your top three prospects in MacDermid. At 23 years old, he is projected to be a top six forward, and a complete player who skates hard, completes his fore checks, can score and can also create off the pass. In hockey lingo, he is what is called a "blue-collar scorer," a player that really has no major weaknesses. In his first two games (both against the Anahiem Ducks) at left wing for Dallas, he recorded two goals.
In the last few games since the Morrow and Jagr trade, I have noticed that the Stars are playing much harder consistently throughout a 60-minute game. They are aggressive on the puck both offensively and defensively, and are creating scoring chances with their hustle. This style of play has always been their own, but it was just difficult to do when a 41-year-old was the leading scorer and the longtime captain was clearly declining.
Suddenly, the Dallas Stars are back in the playoff race, only four points out of the Top 8. Maybe these trades gave them the fresh legs they needed on the ice, and the heart that wasn't quite consistent enough.