Every now and then, Pro Hockey Talk will ask for insight from some of the best team bloggers out there. For this feature, we asked a simple question: “Who is your team’s most frustrating player?” Just for fun, I decided to throw my guess in the hat, too.
First, here is my guess for the Dallas Stars.
Trevor Daley – To be honest, my instinct was to say “Matt Niskanen” but I actually thought of this feature idea while watching Daley, so I’ll pick him. Every time I see Daley skate, I cannot help but think: this guy should be so much better than he is.
For the Stars, I prompted the gang from Defending Big D aka Brandon Worley’s old stomping grounds. Brad Gardner was kind enough to answer the call. Believe me, it’s still a great blog, even without our boy Brandon there. (Note: the numbers a bit outdated because I was slow to post this. Not Brad’s fault, instead mine.)
Ask most Stars fans this question and the answer you’ll get most often will probably be Marty Turco, whose struggles in the past two seasons are well documented. I’ve always found the “just blame the goaltender mantra” to be a little incomplete, and quite frankly, lazy analysis.
Can we pick a forward? The Dallas offense ranks 9th in the league. Stars fans often like to complain about Brad Richards’ $7.8 million contract as a weight that’s dragging this team down, but he’s tied for 5th in NHL scoring with 90 points as of this writing and seemingly involved in every single good thing that happens for the Stars, so it’s hard to find frustration there, despite his -11 rating on the season.
No, when I think frustration in Dallas I think defense, and I think Trevor Daley.
After the jump: why Daley is a source of frustration.
When Joe Nieuwendyk and Marc Crawford arrived in Dallas, touting a new “up-tempo” system, Trevor Daley was said to be the guy to watch. Under Dave Tippett and his staff, Daley’s skating and offensive upside were shelved while he was taught to develop a proper defensive foundation. Crawfords’ arrival signaled the unchaining of Trevor Daley and his ample speed.
79 games later, Daley has a growing reputation in Texas for scoring as many goals on his own net (6 by our count this season) than on the other teams net (also 6 now), and is on pace to have fewer points (currently 20) than in each of his last two seasons under Tipett (25 and 24), barring a barrage in the final 3 games.
A late season run in both points and the +/- department has Daley’s critics in the local media asking whether or not he’s finally ready to take it to the next level: A question they’ve asked in each of the last two off-seasons. I hope he is, but as the Stars highest paid defenseman this season, he’s not consistently getting the job done on either end of the ice and would be better suited as a third pairing kind of guy behind stronger players.
This is all to say that our real source of frustration is Tom Hicks and his empty pocket book. It’s not Trevor Daley’s fault he has a little too much weight put on him, it’s Hicks’. Until the ownership changes, the lowest paid defensive group in the Western Conference will continue to wrongly rely on lesser players to perform above their pay grade.
Honorable mention: Sean Avery. The Stars have paid him nearly $2 million this year and the guy hasn’t done a single thing for us…