The Dallas Stars are looking to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race and have opted to strengthen their back end in that pursuit. The Stars have acquired veteran defenseman Ben Lovejoy from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for defenseman Connor Carrick and a 2019 third-round pick. The Devils have confirmed the deal.
The deal comes as a slight surprise, as the Stars are deep on the blue line, having carried eight defensemen for much of the year. However, Lovejoy does bring a veteran presence that the team lacked on defense outside of Roman Polak. He is also a strong penalty killer and will be a major boost for the Stars when shorthanded. Lovejoy isn’t much for offense, with seven points in 51 games, but the impending free agent plays a dependable defensive game and is a nice piece to have in the postseason. He also has ties to the organization, as cousin Gavin Bayreuther is also a defenseman for the Stars. It’s a nice pickup for Dallas and Lovejoy should fit in nicely as a reliable depth piece.
Dallas is not done though. The Stars are heavily rumored to be wanting to add more scoring, as they currently lack the firepower they will likely need to knock off a top seed in the West as a wild card team. The Devils did not retain any salary in the trade, so the Lovejoy acquisition does eat up some of their available cap space. At $2.67MM compared to Carrick’s $1.3MM, Lovejoy’s addition is not that taxing and still leaves the Stars with over $3.4MM to add another forward. Although two trade chips are now gone, expect the Stars to continuing exploring the market for both rental and long-term help up front.
The real story of this trade is the great return for the Devils. GM Ray Shero managed to turn Lovejoy, an expiring asset on the decline, into a young defenseman with team control and a mid-round pick. Carrick, who is also offensively challenged, is nevertheless growing into a capable bottom pair defender and by many metrics has outplayed Lovejoy this season. Carrick will be a restricted free agent this summer due a qualifying offer of just $1.1MM, so the Devils are likely to hold on to him to see what he can do next year. The worst case scenario is merely that Carrick doesn’t work out, but New Jersey still would net a nice pick. The Stars’ third-rounder becomes the Devils’ ninth pick in the upcoming draft. The Devils aren’t done either. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Marcus Johansson, who sat out of Thursday night’s game alongside Lovejoy, will sit again tonight and seems very likely to be traded.