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      Grading the Chris Tanev trade: Stars snag the top defensive defender available

      The Flames acquired defense prospect Artem Grushnikov, a second-round pick, and a conditional draft choice in the deal.

      Published -

      The Calgary Flames continued their protracted sell-off Wednesday when they sent rugged defenseman Chris Tanev to the Dallas Stars.

      Well, it wasn’t quite that simple. You see, due to Dallas’ own cap constraints, the Flames first sent Tanev to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for goaltender Cole Brady. The Devils then sent Tanev to the Stars, who proceeded to send a collection of picks and prospects Calgary’s way in exchange for Brady again.

      Both the Flames and Devils retained 50 percent of Tanev’s remaining salary, meaning Dallas is only on the hook for the final quarter. Brady was included in the deal essentially as a paperweight. New Jersey received a fourth-round pick from Dallas for playing their part in the transaction.

      Naturally, it’s time for another edition of our Daily Faceoff Trade Grades. We’ll only be looking at how the Stars and Flames did in this deal — but if you want, you can imagine we gave the Devils a solid B+. Let’s begin!

      DALLAS STARS

      Receive:

      D Chris Tanev, 34 – $1.125 million cap hit (75% retained, down from $4.5 million), pending UFA

      The Stars did very, very well here. Tanev was the top defensive defenseman on the market and will be a natural fit for a Stars team with championship aspirations — and they still have room to make more additions.

      Tanev at $4.5 million was pretty good value for the Flames over the past four seasons. The Stars are getting him for a quarter of that amount. With the Flames and Devils both retaining salary, Dallas only had to use approximately $200,000 of their $2.25 million in LTIR space. Talk about flexibility.

      Looking at Dallas’ defensive depth chart, one thing really stands out: Miro Heiskanen, Thomas Harley, Esa Lindell, and Ryan Suter all shoot left. Tanev’s arrival is a game-changer. Until now, Peter DeBoer’s only right-handed options were Jani Hakanpää and Nils Lundkvist.

      Tanev is one of the strongest shutdown defenders in the National Hockey League. He’s a modern two-way player in every sense of the word, being fully capable of moving the puck up the ice effectively while also being uniquely skilled at breaking up odd-man rushes and forcing attackers to make low-percentage plays. He thrives under pressure and makes his partners better.

      During his tenures in Vancouver and Calgary, Tanev became highly regarded both as a fan favorite and a model for young players to aspire toward. After helping usher Quinn Hughes into the league with the Canucks, Tanev helped Noah Hanifin and Oliver Kylington reach new heights with the Flames. The prospect of him taking Harley under his wing has to be extremely appealing for fans in Dallas.

      If Tanev does end up helping the Stars reach the 2024 Stanley Cup Final, the Flames will receive Dallas’ own 2026 third-round pick. You can bet Stars GM Jim Nill would be just fine with that. And with Tanev now in the fold, the Stars’ chances of going far in the playoffs just went way up.

      Grade: A

      CALGARY FLAMES

      Receive:

      2024 second-round pick
      2026 third-round pick (conditional)
      D Artem Grushnikov – on ELC through 2026

      It’s hard to get too excited about this return for the Flames. Obviously, they want the Stars to reach the Final this year so they can get the conditional third-round pick, but that would also lower the value of Dallas’ 2024 second-round pick. They’re two pretty similar outcomes.

      Grushnikov is a rookie American Hockey League defenseman who has played in North America since 2021. Although he’s never shown much offensive upside, Flames GM Craig Conroy touted Grushnikov’s defensive instincts and skating ability in his various media availabilities on Wednesday night.

      Even so, it is exceedingly rare for players who don’t score at lower levels to carve out meaningful careers in the NHL. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen — Tanev is a particularly notable exception — but it’s not a particularly high-percentage play. For every Josh Manson and Marcus Pettersson, there are 50 guys who never make it past an AHL second pairing.

      The Stars originally selected Grushnikov in the second round (No. 48 overall) of the 2021 NHL Draft. He’s a 6’2″ left-handed defender who should slot right in with the Calgary Wranglers going forward. If he develops into an NHLer down the road, it’ll be a bonus.

      The real prize for the Flames is the second-round pick — although, given Tanev’s strong track record of two-way play, it’s a little disappointing that nobody was willing to part with a first-rounder to acquire his services. It’s also a bit surprising that Conroy couldn’t convince Nill to slightly relax the conditions on the third-round pick. Even so, the Flames can take solace in having two picks in the first and second rounds of the coming draft.

      The Flames certainly didn’t overachieve here. Given how many teams were reportedly interested in acquiring Tanev (and that they retained salary), it feels like they barely shot a par.

      Grade: C+

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