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Friday, February 12, 2010
Stars chat: Goalie Marty Turco and trades

By Richard Durrett

Goalie Marty Turco sure is a fun topic of conversation these days, isn't he?

Turco has played his best hockey of the season the last five games. Actually, it's probably his best hockey since February of last season. Turco has a 1.38 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage in his last five games. The Stars, not surprinsly, are 3-1-1 in those contests, picking up seven of a possible 10 points.

The only way this team makes the playoffs is if it gets solid goaltending. That's what it's getting right now, when they need it most. If the Stars had struggled on this road trip, they might have watched their playoff hopes slip away. Instead, they've collected three points in two difficult arenas and are right in the thick of things. Turco is the biggest reason.

What this means is that Turco's value is as high as its been all season. Does that mean general manager Joe Nieuwendyk's phone is ringing a little more often? Maybe. But the reality is that Turco still has a high salary and most teams that would want to get him to make playoff pushes may not have the room under the cap to do it.

But as we've talked about the last couple of day, I would be hesitant to trade Turco. Why? I think he's the Stars' best option in net right now. Kari Lehtonen may be this club's goalie of the future, but he hasn't played in an NHL game. He needs time to adjust. Alex Auld has played well in spurts as Turco's backup, but I'm not convinced he's a No. 1 goalie that can play the major minutes down the stretch. I'm still convinced my column from earlier this week still applies.

I know it's easy to say that the Stars need to get something for Turco. And they could strike while the iron is hot, either today before the 2 p.m. freeze or, more likely, just before the March 3 trade deadline.

But the Stars might get something even better if Turco keeps playing well: A playoff berth. Even if he goes away this summer, which is likely, it's not for nothing in my opinion if he gets the Stars into the playoffs. Once you're in the postseason, you never know what can happen. And I'm not convinced they get to the playoffs with Alex Auld and Lehtonen, who will be adjusting to a new team and playing regularly in the NHL for the first time since last season.

Remember, too, that when Turco leaves, that's $5.4 million in cash that Nieuwendyk has to spend (he's probably already spent it on raises to young players and an offer, at some point, to restricted free agent Kari Lehtonen).

What would you do? Would you trade Turco before the deadline or keep him and see what he can do down the stretch for this team? You know where I stand.