Grossman trade makes sense for Stars

DALLAS — On Thursday afternoon, the Dallas Stars made their first significant personnel move before the Feb. 27 NHL trade deadline by announcing they had reached a deal with the Flyers that sent defenseman Nicklas Grossman to Philadelphia in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and a third-round pick in 2013.

The trade made sense for the Stars on several fronts. For one, Grossman had struggled for much of this season. Over his past 12 games, the 27-year-old Swede was minus-7 and had zero points. With the recent emergence of Mark Fistric in the wake of Sheldon Souray being out for the past few games with a foot injury, the writing was on the wall for the big Swede.

“Well, obviously when guys have contracts and they’re nearing their end, you make decisions on going forward,” Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said. “I think as an organization, we felt that we have some depth at that position now, which we hadn’t had in previous years, and made the decision to make the deal that we did in order to give not only Mark Fistric more of an opportunity but to get Adam Pardy going. And we have some kids that are knocking on the door as well.”

In the wake of Grossman being dealt to Philly, the Stars put Pardy on the ice for the first time since Jan. 10 and also shook up their defensive pairings for Thursday’s game with Calgary.

Dallas head coach Glen Gulutzan went with Alex Goligoski and Stephane Robidas as his top blue-line pairing. Trevor Daley and Mark Fistric were the second pairing, with rookie Philip Larsen and Pardy being the third.

Nieuwendyk specifically cited the recent form displayed by Fistric as well as what he sees as a big upside in Pardy as two things that were big factors in the club dealing Grossman.

“Well, I think so. And I couldn’t say that a year ago at this time or two years ago because the depth of our defense was not what it is today. You guys are going to hear some names in the next year — Patrik Nemeth and (Jamie) Oleksiak — who we drafted. But I think Mark Fistric has performed really well this year too and deserves to at least get the opportunity to play more often. And I still believe that there’s a lot of game left in Adam Pardy,” he said. “So, it’s an area that we’re protected.”

But Nieuwendyk was quick to state that today’s trade by no means signifies that the Stars will be sellers instead of buyers leading up to the trade deadline.

“Well, I don’t really like the term, and I know everyone wants to talk about that. I just think today is an isolated case and it shows that we’re going to be active,” Nieuwendyk said. “We’re going to look at things that make our hockey club better going forward. And if things present themselves that do that, we’ll take a strong look at it.”

Benefits associated with this deal were that the Stars get something, more specifically two draft picks, in exchange for a guy who was going to be a free agent at the end of this season anyway.

And for a club that already has several top-flight defensemen in its system, having three picks in the top 50 of June’s draft is another nice benefit of pulling the trigger and sending Grossman to the Flyers.

“Yeah, I think after going through our scout meetings, they really felt that in the top 50, there was a number of good players. So now we have potentially three picks within that top 50, which is key,” Nieuwendyk said. “I think you guys know well enough by now we are trying to build something here that not only is a good product today but more importantly, we want to compete like the Detroits, like the San Joses, contending for Cups not just bordering on this seven-to-12 area. We want to be a consistent team.”