7:28 PM: Per Matthew DeFranks of The Dallas Morning News, the conditional 2025 fourth-round pick in the deal becomes a 2025 third-round pick if Lundkvist scores 55 or more total points over the next two seasons.
7:10 PM: The Athletic has reported that the Rangers will also receive a conditional 2025 fourth-round pick as part of the deal.
The Stars are sending the Rangers a top-10 protected 2023 first-round pick in return, per the New York Post’s Larry Brooks. If the pick lands in 2023 and the Stars keep it, the Rangers would receive an unprotected 2024 first-rounder.
Lundkvist, 22, had requested a trade from the Rangers, a trade request that received significant media coverage in recent days. Because the Rangers’ defense features five players (Adam Fox, Jacob Trouba, Ryan Lindgren, K’Andre Miller, and Braden Schneider) who are either currently established long-term pieces or on the path to that status, Lundkvist felt that he would not have any chance to earn a top-four spot with power play time in New York.
It’s that locked-out feeling that inspired this trade request rather than any animosity towards the organization, and now Lundkvist heads to a team that features a defensive group that’s a bit less set in stone. On paper, it looks like this acquisition is part of the Stars’ attempt to make up for the loss of John Klingberg. The team signed defenseman Colin Miller to a two-year, $1.85MM deal this summer, and as of now thanks to that deal he has the inside track on winning Klingberg’s old job on the team’s second pairing next to Esa Lindell.
But now Miller has Lundkvist to compete with for that role, and since the Stars surrendered a quality asset to acquire Lundkvist, Miller’s early grip on that second-pairing job might not be as strong as it once looked to be.
Additionally, the team signed defenseman Will Butcher to a contract earlier this summer, and it seemed at the time that Butcher would be Miller’s primary competition for that role as the team’s go-to offensive blueliner. With this trade, Butcher’s status in the team’s blueline mix is more uncertain.
One other lineup factor at play here is the presence of Miro Heiskanen. Heiskanen’s mastery of the defensive side of the game could make him the preferred partner for Lundkvist, whose game has a more offensive bent. Additionally, a Lundkvist-Heiskanen pairing would allow Heiskanen to move to the left side, which he could prefer.
This is not a cheap addition for the Stars, but it’s a clear indication that the team has faith that Lundkvist will be every bit of the dynamic offensive force at the NHL level that he looked to be in the SHL. With Klingberg gone, the Stars need to find a way to replace the offense he brought to their blueline, and Lundkvist currently represents their highest-upside chance at doing so.
For the Rangers, this is a great return for a prospect who had already requested a trade and was unlikely to be in the team’s long-term plans. While the Rangers’ salary cap issues might have made Lundkvist (and his affordable cap hit) especially useful in the next few years, the Rangers do have other young defensemen like Zac Jones who can fill a similar role. Getting a coveted 2023 first-rounder (even if it’s top-ten protected) or an unprotected 2024 first-rounder in return for Lundkvist is about as strong of a return as the Rangers could reasonably expect to receive.
While the cost looks steep for the Stars now, the Stars won’t mind having paid that price if Lundkvist has a breakout year this season. It’s become increasingly common for fans to assign instant winners and losers to every transaction, and this trade will be no different. With that said, though, it’s important to keep in mind this is the type of trade where it will be difficult to truly judge Dallas’ side of the deal until we see how Lundkvist fares in victory green.
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