As the Dallas Stars fan, many of us have experienced a number of bowel shocks thanks to the team. There was the time when all the stars had to do was win their last game in the regular season to make the playoffs – and then went out soft as a lamb and blasted the chance. Or what about the days when the stars were up to several goals to get Anaheim Ducks back and tie the game – and then beat them to overtime and eliminate them from the off season?
Or what about the time when the stars finally make a deal to help give some secondary scoring only to make this takeover break his arm in the second period of the very first game played for the team less than 24 hours after be acquired?
After Saturday's loss to Carolina Hurricanes on home-made, the stars acted for Mats Zuccarello from the New York Rangers. When the dust settled in their game against the Chicago Blackhawks not 24 hours later, the team had two points and no Zuccarello.
(Of course, the team was also without captain Jamie Benn too much of the game when he was injured in the hurricanes game and tried to play through the injury but could not after a battle early in the Blackhawks game. He is considered day-to-day) Andrew Cogliano also missed some time after taking a stick in his face and bleeding heavily at the non-call game, but he returned to the game, but the biggest damage and most immediate impact is Zuccarello's injury.)
What is probably most frustrating for fans of stars after the news came down that Zuccarello would probably miss the next four weeks is that the deal to acquire Zuccarello filled a huge need for the team. His creativity and ability to make acting seemed to build the team, and he had already taken up help and a goal in the game before being injured.
It's like the fans tasted the apple and then the apple was yanked away and they were told they will have to hope it is ready to be consumed again weeks from now.
So what does general manager Jim Nill do now? The team's scoring woes have not disappeared and the reinforcement he was acting for may not help the playoffs. But first, his team must get there.
If there is any kind of silver lining for the Zuccarello injury, then it happened the day before the trading deadline when there can still be movements. There are still a number of forward-looking rumors available – Ottawa Senators Mark Stone is still on the market for this writing.
Dallas can create some cap seats by adding Stephen Johns to the long-term damaged reserve list. Tyler Pitlick could also be added as his return timeline is about the beginning of the playoffs and then re-activated for the after-season (when the cap ceiling no longer applies and teams can expand their rosters). Either or both of these movements can create some extra cap space to work with, without even counting for any possible pay that could be sent the other way in a move.
Any potential move would probably have to involve current roster players or prospects, but as the stars look a little thin on drafts pick the next two years. In 2019 and in 2020 seasons, they have a 4th, 5th, and 6th election to work with given the conditions for picks sent back on the Zuccarello trade and picks that have been traded away in the last few seasons on steps to acquire players such as Marc Methot and Jamie Oleksiak.
In a league where a team has to give in, the stars are in an even harder position to acquire forward help than they were on Saturday. And the market will not be any softer as the trading deadline on Monday is also approaching.