NHL playoffs: Max Domi looking like masterful trade deadline acquisition for Stars
Max Domi wasn't the biggest name to move ahead of the trade deadline, but he looks like the best acquisition any team made in terms of playoff impact.
In a trade deadline period that included 10 first-round picks changing hands and big names like Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko, Mattias Ekholm, and Ryan O'Reilly swapping teams, the Dallas Stars' acquisition of Max Domi flew under the radar.
Domi isn't a nobody by any means, but at the time of the trade he'd played for four different teams since his 72-point career year in 2018-19, with a respectable 156 points in 257 games.
The 28-year-old had been producing at a better clip with the Chicago Blackhawks (0.82 points/game) but he was doing so leading Chicago's forwards in power-play ice time, and enjoying the highest offensive zone start percentage of his career (67.1%).
With less of a featured role, it seemed realistic to expect Domi to perform as a useful complementary scorer, not a game-changer — and he was priced accordingly on the trade market.
At a time when the likes of heavy hitter Tanner Jeannot went for a massive haul of picks including a first-rounder, the Stars pried Domi (along with AHL goalie Dylan Wells) away from Chicago for a second-round pick — plus the underwater expiring contract of Anton Khudobin.
In the moment it looked like a tidy bit of business. Right now, it appears to be a stroke of genius.
No player acquired during the season has more postseason points than Domi (10), and that number understates how hot the forward is right now. He was kept off the scoreboard in his first four games of the playoffs, with 24 penalty minutes standing as his most notable statistical impact.
Since then, he's tied with Matthew Tkachuk for the playoff scoring lead. He's come alive against the Seattle Kraken, providing assists on three of Joe Pavelski's four goals in Game 1 and contributing another three-point performance in a Game 4 win.
Crucially, none of the offence he's produced has come on the power play. The Stars are second only to the Edmonton Oilers in power-play goals during the playoffs (12) and Domi has registered a point on 40% of the goals Dallas has scored without the man advantage.
Entering the postseason, you could've argued Domi was a luxury item for a team that already had solid depth scoring. During the regular season, the Stars had five forwards with at least 50 points — and prior to the Domi deal they'd already added Evgenii Dadonov to inject some offensive creativity into their top nine.
The initial returns on the Domi trade seemed to reinforce that idea. In his first 24 games with the team, he managed just seven points with a minus-9 rating and fewer than two shots on net per contest.
After that bumpy start he's given the team everything it could've expected from him and more.
While he probably won't stay this hot, the Stars don't necessarily need him to. Dallas has been getting excellent production from the likes of Roope Hintz and veterans like Pavelski, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Jason Robertson could heat up at any minute.
This offense was already dangerous before Domi came aboard, but as an even-strength scoring threat he's taking some pressure of his team's top-tier talent. He's already done enough to justify Dallas's modest investment in him, now he's just providing surplus value — and raising his asking price in free agency.