|Probably my favorite picture of Matt Fraser ever, just after he scored his first pro goal. (Credit: Ron Byrd/Texas Stars)|
Matt Fraser and Reilly Smith have been big contributors in Texas over the past two and one seasons respectively. Obviously the loss of the all-time leading goal scorer in Fraser and one of the team's top points-per-game producers in Smith is a pretty rough one-two punch. However, there is talent coming along the pipe, some of which was previewed such as Brett Ritchie.
In the end, the Texas Stars primary purpose is talent development. While most of the time it is nice to see that talent develop and then stay in the system, seeing that talent leave the system is also a positive sometimes. Matt Fraser, an undrafted free agent, has matured into a player that dominates the AHL level and has a crack at the NHL level now, perhaps in Boston. The Bruins saw what he did in Cedar Park and put a value on that, hence his inclusion in the trade. Again, it's a tough hole to fill, but the Stars hope to see players such as Ritchie step up into that goal scoring role.
In my opinion, the loss of the scoring from Fraser and potentially Smith, in the case that he would have made the AHL roster instead of Dallas, makes secondary scoring even more important for the team. Mike Hedden should be a priority for the Texas Stars in the coming days. The two sides have been having talks.
Also gone in the trade is Joe Morrow, who saw action in all but one game after his trade to the Dallas system. Morrow has now been traded twice in four months. It seemed like the performance he had in Cedar Park did not match expectations of him. The Stars received Ryan Button on the blue line in his place. Button was a third round pick in 2009 by Boston. He played in the WHL, mostly with Prince Albert, but also seeing time in his final season with Brenden Dillon and the Seattle Thunderbirds. Kirk Luedeke, who covers Boston prospects, had this to say about Button: "Mobile shutdown, bottom-pairing guy, real good character. Has the tools to be more, could just never apply them." Button spent some time in the ECHL over the past two seasons and has yet to tally a goal at the AHL level but has 3 points.
|Reilly Smith (Credit: Grand Rapids Griffins)|
To say that this wasn't a good deal for either side isn't a fair analysis. Boston gets scoring wingers, including the centerpiece of the trade for them, Loui Eriksson. Eriksson is a big scorer in his prime or perhaps just past who can help the Bruins right now. Dallas gets two centers, which immediately shores up that position, and allows them to move Jamie Benn back to his natural wing spot.
If you want to try and make the argument that Jim Nill doesn't care about the minor league team, take a look at the Grand Rapids Griffins, which were under Nill's management this season. They just won the Calder Cup. It's an argument that doesn't hold water.