The Dallas Stars once again find themselves positioned as a bubble team. They sit in the last wildcard spot in the Western Conference with a 23-17-2 record, tied with Calgary but squeaking ahead in the standings thanks to a pair of extra regulation wins. GM Jim Nill has a few big names on expiring contracts playing on his team, and whether the Stars look capable of solidifying their playoff hopes or not will dictate how he goes about handling the trade deadline this year. The Stars could recoup a ton of assets if they chose to go the route of selling, but nothing is more valuable than getting a shot at the Stanley Cup. If they choose to offload assets, here are the players that will see the best return for the team.

John Klingberg

Formerly the Stars’ #1 defenceman, reports that Klingberg has requested a trade have been somewhat exaggerated according to the player himself. However, contract negotiations between Klingberg and the team have stalled, and his pending UFA status and $4.250 million contract bring some concerns about his future in Dallas. Klingberg will probably want a raise from his previous deal, and the Stars see Miro Heiskanen as the future of that #1 RD position and have paid him almost double what Klingberg is making as a result. Klingberg, just 29-years old, would fetch a great return on the trade market. It’s not often a #1 right-handed defenceman becomes available, and a bidding war would almost certainly break out, something that would only benefit the Stars.

Braden Holtby

Holtby has had a much improved season from his brief – and disappointing – stint with Vancouver last year. That said, the Stars have a promising young goaltender in Jake Oettinger, a former first-round pick from 2017, who looks ready to take on a portion of the starting duties in Dallas. That leaves Holtby, who would probably like a longer-term extension after bouncing around the league for a couple years, at a bit of a crossroads. He’s played well in Dallas, and there’s little doubt the Stars would like to keep him. Are they willing to spend the money for an extended contract when they have Holtby’s replacement waiting in the wings and primed for a bridge deal? On the trade market, Holtby’s improved performance would net the Stars a solid return, especially given the current need for goaltenders around the league.

Joe Pavelski

For a guy playing in his 16th NHL season, Joe Pavelski is in fine form. He’s on pace to have the best season of his career, and at 37-years old, that’s a pretty impressive achievement. Particularly given that he’s doing it on a middling Stars team. Pavelski is currently making $7 million and will be a UFA next July, shortly before his 38th birthday. The Stars obviously have some interest in keeping one of their top forwards around, but Pavelski’s trade value is unlikely to ever be as high as it is right now, and re-signing him next summer will be a tricky issue given Denis Gurianov and Jason Robertson’s pending RFA status. Meanwhile, Pavelski knows he only has a few years left in this league, and he might want to win a Cup before he hangs up the skates. A trade to a contending team seems like the best option for both the Stars and Pavelski, it just depends on what the offers from around the league look like.

Alex Radulov

Speaking of pending UFAs, Alex Radulov is about to hit the open market as well. He’s also in the twilight of his career and will turn 36-years old shortly after he becomes a UFA in July, but injuries have claimed the bulk of Radulov’s last few seasons and he finds himself buried in the Stars’ forward depth behind Pavelski and Denis Gurianov. A spot in the top 6 opening up (say from the departure of Pavelski) could rejuvenate his playing career for a few more seasons, and Radulov will likely come cheaper than Pavelski on the salary front. However, there’s also the possibility that Radulov’s play has simply dropped off after several seasons of significant injuries. As such, Radulov’s trade value will be lower than the others on this list, but he’s also more of a liability to re-sign next summer. It’s better for the Stars to get something for him now than to lose him for nothing in a few months’ time.

Photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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