It's been 12 hours now since we first heard about the Vishnevskiy trade, so I've had a chance to think about what transpired. We all knew something was up when Matt Stephenson and Trevor Ludwig dressed for last night's game against Grand Rapids. I think most of us assumed Vish was getting the call up to Dallas to replace Mark Fistric until the Olympic break. Not the case.
During the Stars games (Dallas was in Chicago), there were rumblings first reported on TSN that Kari Lehtonen would be moving to Dallas for Ivan Vishnevskiy and a draft pick. Once both games were completed, it became official.
Most of the coverage that you will see about the trade will talk about Vishnevskiy's potential as a "Sergei Zubov" type of defenseman, someone who is solid in his own zone but can also score with facility and quarterback a power play. The key word is potential for most coverage you will read.
The Texas Stars were already seeing the benefit of having someone like Vish in their lineup nightly. He was the team's leading defenseman scorer and something like #7 overall. On a team where goals are a rare commodity many nights, losing a major scoring threat is a huge detriment. Much of the coverage you will read will also talk about his defensive game not being up to snuff. Perhaps this is true. He was paired with Maxime Fortunus most nights, which certainly helps to cover up a lot of defensive blunders.
But the thing that Texas Stars fans have to remember is the role of the AHL. The AHL is a development league. Games are fun to watch and we can talk about strategies and such until the cows come home. However, each team exists to develop the prospects in their system and serve the needs of the parent club. If the parent club needs to use a prospect to acquire a player for their own needs, then that is what will happen. Compared to the goals of the Dallas Stars, the management of the Dallas Stars cares very little about whether the Texas Stars make the playoffs or win the Calder Cup this year. It's not on their radar.
I think the worst part of the trade for Texas is the one-two punch of (1) not getting anything in return and (2) having to see Vishnevskiy in Cedar Park this weekend against the Wolves. That's right: Vishnevskiy was simply assigned to the Thrashers' farm team, which will be playing in Cedar Park this weekend. That's going to be rough on the kid. Also, the Wolves are one of the teams battling for the division crown with the Stars. We get nothing; they get a top pair defenseman.
Do the Texas Stars have the blue line fortitude to still compete at a high level? Maybe. Last night's pairings looked like this:
Ludwig and Stephenson had been trading scratches back and forth for the past few weeks. Do the Stars need another defenseman now? Where does he come from? The ECHL, the CHL? I don't really know.
In summary, this stinks for the Texas Stars, but I understand why it happened. It makes sense for Dallas to have a guaranteed goaltender, Lehtonen, under contract when the summer comes. Turco is likely on his way out before March 3, and everyone else you can name seems to be an unrestricted free agent this summer (Auld, Krahn, Climie). Bachman and Beskorowany are the only goalies in the system not to be a UFAs this summer, and we know they aren't even ready for the AHL, let alone the NHL. Luckily if Vish does turn out to be the best thing since sliced bread, we don't play Atlanta more than once most years...
And so I leave you with the only goal that Ivan Vishnevskiy scored for the Dallas Stars in the NHL.
Just kidding, Vish. We'll miss you.
You may have heard something about D Philip Larsen in all of this. He is a Stars prospect currently in Europe, said to be an 'offensive minded defenseman' like Vish. His stats don't seem to indicate that though. Through 35 games with Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League, he has just one goal and eight assists. We can expect him in North America next year.
Note: Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk was in the building for last night's game against the Griffins. Too bad we got outplayed in every possible way in the game. Maybe that only added to the issues. Trade rumors and then GM Joe is at the game.