Dallas Stars Still Search for Defensive Answers
Every indication has been made to assume the Stars are done making moves in the free agency pool. For the first time in years, the team has been rated one of the most successful in regards to the caliber of players they were able to sign, with the signings of veterans Ray Whitney and future hall-of-famer, Jaromir Jagr.
So, what now? The Stars definitely addressed their deficiency on their power play, but what about the defensive presence? Much has been said that Dallas will rely on their youthful prospects to address their blue line woes. I have been saying for the last few weeks, barring any work stoppages, last year’s number one pick Jamie Oleksiak will potentially see playing time in Dallas before the turning of the calendar.
But is that the answer? After the blockbuster signing of Ryan Suter to Minnesota for 13 years and Matt Carle going to the Lightning for the next six, I’m afraid the Stars really left themselves no choice. The quality of unrestricted free agent defensemen this year drops significantly after Suter and Carle.
Two names that immediately stand out on the list of unrestricted defensemen is Sami Lepisto from Chicago and Edmonton’s Theo Peckham. Well, neither is close to being a cornerstone to build your defensive corps around as Lepisto only registered 26 games with three points. Peckham also notched three points but played in almost double the games at 54.
From there, there is one player that makes total sense to me, which generally involves me getting chastised for being crazy. Last year, even with the history of fundamentally and positional sound play, Mike Commodore was the only player on the Detroit Red Wings roster who did not have a minus rating in a game (he said at worst, he may have had a -1 once).
Commodore is a tough, gritty defenseman who possesses the ability to make things happen with the puck. He’s not going to burn out any lamps, but in 484 games, he has 106 points but scoring is not why you have a Mike Commodore-type on your team. His 683 penalty minutes speaks to his willingness to go fight the dirty battles that your more proficient scorers don’t need to find themselves trapped in.
In 2006, Commodore played in all 25 Carolina Hurricane playoff games in route to the Stanley Cup championship. The following year, he had his best season playing in all 82 regular season games and chalking up seven goals and 29 total points. He then represented Canada in the IIHF World Championships in which the red and white took home the gold.
The fact of the matter is Commodore wins. With the additions of Whitney and Jagr (both also Cup winners along with Michael Ryder), the Stars could set themselves up with a successful group of players to teach the young prospects and the likes of Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson the hard work and dedication that is required to win. Commodore wants to play in Dallas. I may be wrong, but that’s generally the kind of person you want on your favorite team. Now that his agent has gotten Zach Parise signed, perhaps Wade Arnott can get on the phone with Joe Nieuwendyk and finally make this happen.