Art Middleton at Defending Big D has an excellent post up this morning, opining on the big Cliff Lee trade and how it reflects on the current state of Tom Hicks' other team. After the trade went down, Stars fans were a bit perplexed that the Rangers were able to make such a big trade while the Stars are stuck in limbo with a restrictive budget. Yet if you dive into the two situations, it's clear you just can't make an accurate comparison between the trade and the Dallas Stars. Says Art:
GM Joe doesn't have the luxury that his baseball counterpart Jon Daniels has. Even if an NHL GM was willing to trade a high priced star to Dallas and keep some of the salary, the current CBA prohibits a team from doing so. If the Stars are looking to trade for a high priced defenseman, they simply can't go to a bigger budget team and pull off the kind of trade the Rangers made where an extra top tier prospect is thrown into the deal as a form of payment for the other team to keep some of that d-man's salary.
If the Stars want Tomas Kaberle, they they can't ask the Maple Leafs to keep paying some of his 4.25 million dollar wage. Even if the Edmonton Oilers were willing to deal Sheldon Souray from the Stars for a bag of pucks, Edmonton can't sweeten the deal by agreeing to pay a portion of his 5.5 million dollar salary.
It's a tough pill for Stars fans to swallow, watching the Rangers make such a big acquisition while the Stars are stuck with Adam Burish and Andrew Raycroft. Yet it's very important to note that while both teams are operating with very restrictive budgets the backbone of the organizations -- the prospects and the farm system -- are in completely different places.
The Stars have spent the past few seasons trying to recover from building the team through free agency and trade. While the Stars have hit on some very good first and second rounders, they don't have the insanely high number of incredible prospects the Texas Rangers have been cultivating the past few years. The Rangers could afford to trade Justin Smoak and Blake Beaven because of how deep the farm system is; a similar trade right now would absolutely cripple the Stars.
As Art says, it's apples and oranges.