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Friday, January 7, 2011
Thoughts on Langenbrunner

By Mark Stepneski

Here are some thoughts on today’ s trade, which brought Jamie Langenbrunner to the Dallas Stars from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a conditional 3rd round pick.

What the Stars get. A lot. They get a veteran forward who has won two Stanley Cups, can play up and down the lineup and on both sides of the special teams equation. One of those Stanley Cups was won in Dallas, so he knows the organization and the area. He’s a right shot, something the team could use. He can still pop in some goals, which a team can always use. He’s a good two-way player. He brings leadership. He was captain in New Jersey and captain of the USA Olympic team. He makes a strong set of forwards that much stronger. It makes the group deeper and even more balanced.  Time will tell how he fits into the equation exactly, but trying to find where he fits should be a good task to have for the Stars coaching staff. Overall, a guy Langenbrunner would be a great add by a contending team at the trade deadline. The Stars did their deal a little early.

What they gave up. Not a lot. It’s a 3rd round pick with conditions. When you give up draft picks, miss the playoffs and get to the draft table with a low number of picks it can be frustrating. When you are sitting in first place in the division midway through the season then a draft pick is an asset you can use to bolster your team. And that’s what GM Joe Nieuwendyk has done. He’s used a draft pick to bolster the team. As for the conditions: If the Stars win a round of the playoffs or re-sign Langenbrunner prior to July 1, then that 3rd round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft will become a 2nd round pick. If the Stars sign Langenbrunner after July 1, the Stars would send their 2nd round pick to New Jersey for the Devils’ 3rd round pick. Anyway it goes, it’s not a lot to give up considering what comes in return.

What it means. While the Stars’ ownership issue is still unresolved, there is still resolve within the organization with backing from lenders and the league to keep the team moving forward, keep it competitive. The Stars recently signed Trevor Daley to an extension and now they’ve cut a deal to bring in Langenbrunner, who will cost the Stars $1.4 million or so the rest of the way. The Stars aren’t necessarily looking under office furniture for loose change to help fund things. There’s some backingto to keep this team right in the thick of things in the highly competitive Western Conference. And the acquisition of Langenbrunner is a sign that they are doing that. And it’s a big show of confidence in the Stars’ players and a compliment to what they’ve accomplished in the first half of the season.

What the future may hold for Langenbrunner. Possibly a stay in Dallas beyond this season. He’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, but Nieuwendyk said Langenbrunner is a guy the team could be interested in keeping around.

“We’ve already started to do our homework on potential free agent lists and Jamie would be high on that list. There’s no question about that,” said Nieuwendyk. “If you look at our depth chart, the kids that we have coming at right wing – [Tomas] Vincour, Scott Glennie and Alex Chiasson – are realistically a couple years away. So, Jamie would be a good gap guy to bridge until those kids are ready. There’s definitely a possibility there.”

Langenbrunner said it was a little early to be talking contract stuff, but he sounded like re-signing in Dallas would be something he’d consider.