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Trade grades: Stars hit home run with Tanev acquisition


The Chris Tanev Sweepstakes are officially over with more than a week to go before the NHL trade deadline. On Wednesday night, the Stars acquired Tanev in a three-way trade with the Flames - his team for four years - and the Devils.

Here are the high-level details:

Stars receive Flames receive Devils receive
D Chris Tanev D Artem Grushnikov 4th-round pick (2024)
G Cole Brady 2nd-round pick (2024)
Conditional 3rd-round pick (2026)

Calgary and New Jersey will combine to retain 75% of Tanev's $4.5-million cap hit. The veteran Canadian defenseman is a pending unrestricted free agent.

Brady appears to be a pawn in this deal. The 23-year-old UMass goalie is unsigned despite New Jersey using a fifth-round draft pick on him in 2019, and the Devils wouldn't have been able to retain any salary without sending something (pick or player) to the Stars.

OK, let's get into the trade grades.


Gerry Thomas / National Hockey League / Getty

Tanev immediately becomes Dallas' go-to shutdown defenseman at even strength. He also improves the breakout and levels up the penalty kill, which ranks seventh in the NHL. And Tanev raises the ceiling for a team that's fighting for home-ice advantage in the Western Conference.

All of that at a $1.125-million cap hit.

That's tremendous value for the Stars considering the assets general manager Jim Nill is sacrificing: a B-level prospect (Grushnikov), a second-round pick, and a fourth-rounder. (The 2026 third changes hands only if Dallas makes the 2024 Stanley Cup Final. Let's assume the Stars wouldn't mind that outcome.)

Head coach Pete DeBoer must be licking his chops.

Tanev, a 34-year-old righty, could join lefty Miro Heiskanen on Dallas' top pairing. This would allow Heiskanen to play his natural side and for Thomas Harley to slide down to the second pair with Jani Hakanpaa. You won't find a much better balance in the top four of a blue line than Dallas' after this trade.

Or DeBoer could go in different directions. He has options with Esa Lindell, Ryan Suter, Nils Lundkvist, and Joel Hanley rounding out the defensive unit.

Assuming all goes reasonably well down the stretch and into the playoffs, Tanev should be incentivized to re-sign. No state income tax and Texas weather make Dallas a destination, in general. On top of that, there might not be a team in the NHL except for the Stars that can claim to be very much in contention for the Cup this year and also for the next five-plus seasons.

Impact NHLers Heiskanen, Harley, Roope Hintz, Jason Robertson, Jake Oettinger, and Wyatt Johnston are all 27 or younger. Call-up Logan Stankoven has impressed. Prospects Mavrik Bourque and Lian Bichsel are coming.

This past draft was the first time since 2008 that the Stars didn't select a player in the first round. That conservatism - or smart asset management, depending on how you look at it - stretches back to before Tom Gaglardi took over as owner (2011) and Nill was hired as GM (2013). It's in Dallas' DNA.

Right now, the Stars own their 2024 and 2025 firsts. So, they can add again before the deadline or continue to draft and develop at an efficient rate.

There's no obvious downside to this deal for Dallas. Home run for Nill.

Grade: A+


Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Tanev was the second-best rental defenseman available ahead of the deadline, behind only now-ex-teammate Noah Hanifin. Considering that status, this return is extremely disappointing for the Flames.

The Stars are one of the NHL's top teams, so there's a good chance the second-round selection falls in the 56-64 range. While hitting on a pick in that radius isn't impossible, it's also not likely. That player will also take years to develop.

The fact that Calgary only receives the third-rounder if Dallas makes it to the Cup Final is also very disappointing for the Flames, not to mention that they did the Stars a favor by retaining 50% of Tanev's cap hit.

Grushnikov, meanwhile, doesn't appear to have a ton of upside. Daily Faceoff ranked him outside of the Stars' top 10 prospects in a preseason list. The Athletic ranked him as the club's No. 10 prospect in February. Dallas picked the 6-foot-2 Russian defenseman 48th overall in 2021. He's produced five points in 44 games during his first AHL season.

While getting a first for Tanev might've been tough, it may have been worth it for Flames GM Craig Conroy to wait closer to the deadline to see if a desperate team would step up and pay the price. In a market where so many contenders need quality top-four blue-liners, there was no need to rush this deal for such a poor return. Even if Conroy couldn't land that first, he might've been able to get a package that at least included more quantity than this.

To give Conroy the benefit of the doubt, it's possible Tanev forced his way to Dallas. Tanev had a 10-team no-trade list, so it's not too far-fetched to think he could've vetoed any possible landing spots - except the Stars - thus eliminating the Flames' trade leverage.

But without knowing for sure, it's hard to give Calgary any positive marks. If Conroy doesn't nail the Hanifin trade, Flames fans will start losing faith in their rookie GM - if they haven't already.

Grade: D

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