Thursday, January 15, 2009

Do the Stars Need a Backup Plan?

There's been a lot of talk, especially over the last week or so, about the Stars' plan in net. A couple of weeks ago, Coach Dave Tippett revealed that he plans to ride Marty Turco, good or bad, to the end. And, barring any sort of injury, Turco would be his man in net for the rest of the season. Obviously, with Turco's sub-par performance so far this year (the worst of his career) that statement raised several eyebrows. Oh, really Tip? Why exactly does he get this sort of trust?

Well, I will play the role of devil's advocate briefly here before I go into some other options I think are a bit more sane. The past has shown that when Marty hits the skids, the only way he gets out of it is by playing through it. It has also shown that when he gets on a roll, he tends to stay on one for a good long time. Tippett might just be thinking if he stays with Marty long enough, he's bound to play through this horrible spell of bad performances, and get on a hot streak - a hot streak the Stars can ride up the standings.

The problem is, if this theory backfires, the Stars could well be out of the playoff picture by the time the trade deadline rolls around. And that isn't a picture fans are used to or want to contemplate for this season.

One popular refrain this week, from sports writers and "hockey insiders", was for the Stars to make a move for recently waived Vancouver Canucks netminder Curtis Sanford. His career numbers are very palatable for a #2 goalie - he is 37-37-16 with a 2.76 GAA and .901 save percentage. Sanford is reasonably priced, too, at $650,000/yr and an unrestricted free agent this summer (so no further commitment is necessary). I think he'd be a very nice signing by the Stars, if they can get the Canucks to part with him cheaply. Thoughts are that he can be had for next to nothing.

As a more expensive option (and there are a couple), the Stars could make a play for Manny Legace, making $2.15 million this season in St. Louis, but also a UFA at year's end. Legace struggled this season in St. Louis, posting some puffy-looking numbers (11-8-1, 3.23 GAA, .888 save percentage), but he's still a solid #2.

And recently, the Ottawa Senators have grown tired of their former #1 netminder, Martin Gerber. Gerber comes at a pretty price, though, as he signed a 3-year, 11.1 million dollar deal with the Sens in 2006. He's in the final year of that deal, which leaves him a UFA at the end of the season, but if the money was evenly-distributed over the three years of the contract, Gerber is due roughly 3.7 million dollars this year. That would be pro-rated, but the price tag would still be about 1.8 million dollars. The Stars don't have that kind of room, so they would need to move players instead of (or maybe in addition to) draft picks.

Personally, I think Sanford is the most attractive pick, as long as Tippett will play another goalie.

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia

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