NHL trade grades: Adding Chris Tanev is a slam dunk win for the Stars

The trade

Dallas Stars get: Defenseman Chris Tanev, goalie Cole Brady

Calgary Flames get: Defenseman Artem Grushnikov, Stars’ 2024 second-round pick, conditional third-round pick in 2026.

New Jersey Devils get: Stars’ 2026 fourth-round pick for retaining 50 percent of Tanev’s salary.

Sean Gentille: Speaking in generalities, this didn’t sound like a bad deal for the Flames. Not initially, at least. Picks and a prospect? Sure. That’s the general price tag for a guy like Chris Tanev — accomplished, battle-tested, right-handed, older but not quite old and a pending UFA. That gets you something nice, if not something great.

Each bit of successive information, though, made the deal a little worse on the Calgary side. The best pick is in the second round? OK. The prospect isn’t Logan Stankoven or Mavrik Bourque. Hmm. Liking it less. The Flames are retaining 50 percent of Tanev’s salary? Now we’re in “definitive winner, definitive loser” territory.

It’s not a catastrophe for Flames GM Craig Conroy. It’s certainly a disappointment, though. Tanev isn’t just still good; he’s the type of player contenders get googly eyes over, for all those reasons we listed earlier. The fact that Conroy had to add a sweetener and still couldn’t snag a first-rounder or a better prospect is bizarre. Artem Grushnikov was 10th on Scott Wheeler’s Stars prospect ranking earlier this month and in the “has a chance” tier of Corey Pronman’s ahead of the season. He’s big and a good skater, Pronman says, with a limited offensive game.

Tanev’s injury history is lengthy, and the teams that could’ve used him most — like Vancouver and Toronto — probably weren’t Conroy’s preferred dance partners. All that needs to be considered. But accepting what feels like the bare minimum on a premium asset nine days before the deadline feels like a rookie mistake.

On the Stars side, it’s all love. GM Jim Nill had nearly no cap space available to address a glaring hole on the right side of his defense, and he parlayed it into the best option on the market. Involving an Eastern Conference team was an extra layer of creativity. If Tanev’s shoulder holds up, he’ll give them a perfect option to play behind Miro Heiskanen. Tanev is a shutdown defenseman who thrives on puck retrievals and plays major minutes. Whether he has taken a step back offensively or not is almost immaterial; the Stars get plenty of that elsewhere. They’re loading up for a Stanley Cup run, and they’re doing it the right way: With an OGWAC who can actually play.

Stars grade: A+
Flames grade: D

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Shayna Goldman: This is an absolute slam dunk win for the Stars. Dallas had one clear need heading into the deadline: A steady, right-handed defenseman. That was true before the Nils Lundkvist injury. This was the one area where the team fell short when measuring them on the Stanley Cup Checklist; now with Tanev, he slots in as the team’s number three which moves the rest of the blue line into more appropriate roles behind him.

With Thomas Harley on the top pair, the Stars’ defense is somewhat top-loaded. So this addition changes that — whether he slots behind that pair, and forms a shutdown pair with Esa Lindell on the second, or ends up skating alongside either Harley or Miro Heiskanen for a more balanced approach. Either way, it will allow the Stars to shelter their bottom pairing more.

Tanev’s offense has trended down this year, but he isn’t completely one-dimensional. For as traditional of a shutdown style as he plays, he also thrives at retrieving pucks and getting it out of his own zone with control, which should help clean up the Stars’ breakouts. His playing style does run some injury risk, and it likely will affect how his game ages from here. So the fact that the Stars brought him in without any future commitment just yet is a plus.

The slightly proactive approach benefits the Stars, too. Having him in the fold for potentially four extra games instead of waiting until deadline day should help in the race for first place in the Central.

On the flip side, this is a real disappointment for Calgary. This didn’t come down to the wire on deadline day and the Flames had to settle because there were not any better options. There is more than a week until the deadline, which should have been enough time to up the ante for Calgary. There was a lot of league-wide interest in Tanev — so how is this the best return for the Flames, especially with 50 percent salary retention? With Artem Grushnikov, there are interesting elements to his game, but Calgary should have looked for someone with more certainty and upside without a first-round pick in the return. The one and only win for the Flames is that management recognizes what needs to be done, and won’t risk pending UFAs walking for nothing just to go on one more run.

Stars grade: A
Flames grade: D

(Photo: Sergei Belski / USA Today)

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