Razor With an Edge: Searching for Center, Man
Avenue to the Next Level Is Down the Middle
It's July 1 and that means it’s time to fill needs, add pieces, and "improve the club". (Although wouldn't it be fantastic if a GM or two mainlined some truth serum and just bellowed, "I'm gutting this rancid pig" and added, "I mean, who are we effing kidding, we are a decade away!")
Jim Nill won't be a candidate for that. He's in building mode.
So, part of the build, and what the Stars need really, really bad (IMO), is a #2 center or even better, a 1A. This became very apparent in the playoffs this past spring.
An 18 or 19-year trip down history lane reminds one of how important that slot at center is. That mid-90s Stars club took a very large step forward when Joe Nieuwendyk arrived via trade to give them a 1, 2/bang-bang/Mo-Joe down the middle.
Back then, teams had a choice and Hitch had a choice. Check Modano and let Nieuwy run free or vice versa. Pick your poison.
Lindy would love that flexibility.
Last year's Stars team, for all its togetherness and speed and character, was essentially a roster of forwards that comprised: a top line that could hang with anyone's stuff in the league, a couple of "3rd" lines (workers, PKers, hard to play against), and a 4th line of mostly interchangeable and specialty parts. Line #2, in its various connotations, never seemed to provide the pop offensively that the slotting requires.
Cody Eakin gave everything he had in trying to fill that 2nd line center role last season but right now he's what I see as a "perfect 3rd" - a balance tipper in that spot - and he's only going to get better.
So the quest is to find a centerman to compliment the insane abilities of young, emerging superstar Tyler Seguin. And wouldn't it be something if Nill could work a deal for a center in his mid-20s so he and Seguin could grow at the same time they push each other. Think Crosby, Malkin. Or rather, dream it.
I'm sure you've heard or read the names of those available through UFA, but perhaps the better hunting grounds for THAT player is via trade. Just as it was back in 1995.