Well, that’s it. Today marks the end of the Stephane Robidas era in Dallas as he was traded to the Anaheim Ducks this afternoon. To me, it does not come as much of a surprise. Robidas is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year and is 37 years old. Also, his leg injury has kept him out for most of the year and it is unclear what real impact he will have for the rest of the season.
However, to my surprise, there are many Stars fans (some of which cover/write for the team) who are upset about the trade. I understand the emotional aspect to an extent. Robi was a warrior during his time in Dallas. During his prime, he played with subpar blue line partners and averaged around 20 minutes per game versus top lines on opposing teams. He was also instrumental as a veteran leader in cultivating young talent into mature NHL players. Most notably, Brenden Dillon, who actually lived with Robidas in order to learn how to live like an NHL player. The impact he made as a Star will never be forgotten.
With that said, it is time to move on.
Many of the fans I see who are speaking out against this trade believe it is a mistake because they hold the belief that Robidas can come back and help the Stars push through into the playoffs. While I could argue the marginal improvement a 37-year-old Robidas can have on this blue line, I would rather talk about the strategy of general manager Jim Nill.
As you know, Jim Nill was the assistant general manager in Detroit for a number of years. Detroit has a history of being one of the best drafting teams in hockey. Nill traded Robidas for a 4th round pick which sparked a flurry of responses from fans that say “it’s just a 4th round pick, why not just keep him so we can make the playoffs?”
There are two points I want to make regarding this trade. First of all, it’s not “just a 4th round pick”. Allow me to present to you a list of picks Detroit has made that were “just an X round pick”:
Pavel Datsuyk, 6th round, 1998
Henrik Zetterberg, 7th round, 1999
Valtteri Filppula, 3rd round, 2002
Jonathan Ericsson, 9th round, 2002
Kyle Quincey, 4th round, 2003
Johan Franzen, 3rd round, 2004
Darren Helm, 5th round, 2005
Gustav Nyquist, 4th round, 2008
Man, what a list! Instead of saying we traded Robidas for a anonymous 4th round pick, what if I said to you “let’s trade Robidas for Gustav Nyquist,” what would your opinion of the trade be then? Of course, it is not guaranteed the pick will work out as well as any of those listed above. However, we have a general manager that fully believes a 4th round pick is a spot where an impactful player can be found.
Which brings me to point number two.
Jim Nill did NOT come here to merely squeeze into the playoffs as an 8th seed. His mission here is to build the Dallas Stars franchise into a perennial contender. Part of that process is turning old, expiring contracts into assets that eventually can contribute to a winning team.
I want to make the playoffs this year as bad as anyone. I also love Stephane Robidas. With that said, I believe Stars fans need to understand what the long-term outlook of this team is. The 8th seed is a nice short-term battle, but Jim Nill is here to win the long-standing war.