The Stars orchestrated an uncharacteristic and aggressive trade on Monday evening, acquiring defenseman Nils Lundkvist from the Rangers in exchange for a conditional 2023 first-round pick and a 2025 conditional fourth-round pick.
Lundkvist, 22, was a 2018 first-round pick (No. 28) that requested a trade out of New York over the summer following his demotion to the AHL last season. The right-handed Swede was a standout in the SHL (78 points in 166 games), but split his time between the NHL and the AHL last season.
In 25 games for the Rangers last year, he had just one goal and three assists.
The 2023 first-round pick becomes a 2024 first-round pick if the Stars’ pick is in the top 10. The 2025 fourth-round pick becomes a 2025 third-round pick if Lundkvist totals at least 55 points in the next two NHL seasons.
Full trade details, per a person with knowledge of the deal:
— D Nils Lundkvist
— 2023 first (if top 10, becomes unprotected 2024 first)
— 2025 fourth (becomes 2025 third if Lundkvist has 55 total points in the next two seasons)
— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) September 20, 2022
“Nils is a skilled, right-handed shot defenseman that adjusted to the North American game this past season and has a high ceiling,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said in a statement. “We felt that adding a creative player like Nils to our defensive group was necessary, and he has a tremendous opportunity to establish himself as an everyday impact defenseman at the NHL level.”
For Nill, it’s a deal that he’s never done in Dallas.
Since Nill took over in 2013, the Stars have never traded a first-round pick for a player. The only times they have traded a first were to move up or down in a draft. They were willing to trade conditional picks that could have been first-rounders in the Mats Zuccarello trade in 2019, but the conditions were not met.
But for Lundkvist, Nill ponied up.
On the ice, Lundkvist fills a spot of need as a right-handed offensive defenseman, even if his current status is as a potential developmental project. He is an asset that can become a future partner for Miro Heiskanen, or can run a power-play unit should Thomas Harley fail to pan out on the back end.
While he’s not a one-for-one replacement for the departed John Klingberg (signed with Anaheim in free agency), Lundkvist profiles as someone who could one day step into a Klingberg-sized hole.
The Stars have also been reticent to acquire disgruntled or underperforming, but highly-touted prospects from other teams. Since Nill’s blockbuster trade for Tyler Seguin, the only other players Nill acquired that were under 23 years old were Mattias Janmark (22 when traded from Detroit) and Dillon Heatherington (21 when traded from Columbus).
Lundkvist is an outlier in that respect, as well.
Acquiring Lundkvist also has effects on the Stars’ salary cap situation. He’s only in the second year of his entry-level contract ($925,000 cap hit), but the draft capital that Dallas surrendered could have been used to clear contracts off the ledger.
Perhaps the first-rounder rids the Stars of Anton Khudobin? Perhaps the fourth-rounder entices a team to bite on Radek Faksa? The Stars, instead, valued Lundkvist more than they did both their draft picks and their cap space.
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