There is a certain amount of irony that today we ran a feature on new assistant coach Charlie Huddy and also have scheduled our player profile on Trevor Daley.
There probably is no defensemen on the Stars who will see more immediate change than Daley under Huddy and the Stars' new system.
Trevor Daley came out of junior hockey as a player who could skate and carry the puck. Many made comparisons to Scott Niedermayer after he had 20 goals and 33 assists in 57 games with Sault Ste. Marie.
Here's a scouting report from the time:
``Has superb skating ability and can really fly. The skating makes him a superbly mobile defenseman. Considered highly skilled and an excellent offensive defenseman. Great at handling the puck and excellent at playing the point on the power play. Very tough to knock off the puck. Overall, a very talented defenseman.''
But either the Stars didn't see Daley that way or they simply had other players who could fill that role. Obviously, Sergei Zubov has been the guy who logs the most minutes and fills the biggest role as a skilled defenseman on this team. In addition, players such as Philippe Boucher, Janne Niinimaa and Darryl Sydor have taken the top skill minutes in Daley's time here.
So Daley bided his time and learned to play defense. He and Jon Klemm formed a top penalty killing duo a couple of seasons back, and Daley last season led the team in time on ice for penalty killers. He has seen an increase in his offensive opportunities along the way, and last season posted career-bests in goals (7) and points (25).
So is Daley ready to take over a more offensive role in the upcoming season? I think so.
He turns 26 on October 9 and he has logged 339 NHL games. He has built in a strong base on defense, and he acknowledges the things that former assistant coach Rick Wilson did to help him. However, it was very clear that Wilson did not want Daley to try to do too much. Wilson cringed when people brought out the Niedermayer comparisons, and said Niedermayer gets away with his risky style of play because he is very good at anticipating plays and recovering from mistakes. Those are things that Daley needed to work on, he said.
But who can say whether or not Daley has the same ability if he's never given the chance.
It's always dangerous to compare a young player to a proven superstar. My guess is that Trevor Daley will never be as good as Scott Niedermayer, who has been a first team NHL All-Star three times and a second team All-Star once more. But, could Daley expand on his game and better reach his full potential with a new assistant coach? It certainly seems to be worth the risk.
My guess is that Daley still won't get big power play time next season, as Brad Richards, Stephane Robidas, Matt Niskanen and probably Mike Modano are lined up in front of him. You might even see Ivan Vishnevskiy or Garrett Stafford move into that role if there are injuries. But the great thing about a new coaching staff is they don't have as many preconceived notions about players.
Daley worked with the same coaches for his first five seasons in the league, and they obviously did not see him as a player who could create offensively. This new group might see him differently. In fact, many decisions probably are going to be based on training camp and the preseason schedule. If Daley shines in those situations, who knows what this season might bring.
Trevor Daley has obvious skating and puck handling skills. Now, whether he uses those for the benefit of the team or not is a huge question. But I'm all for letting him loose and seeing what he can do.
That should make this the most interesting season in Daley's NHL career so far.