With the 2022-23 NHL season now more than halfway over, fans have a pretty good idea of what teams are contenders and what teams aren’t. By extension, fans can also tell what teams will be buying and selling at the upcoming March 3 trade deadline. One of the teams that are clearly a contender and should be buying at the deadline is the Dallas Stars.

The Stars made the playoffs as a wild card last season, but look like a different beast this season. Under first-year head coach Peter DeBoer, Dallas is 28-13-10 on the season and currently leads the Western Conference in points. The west is wide open this season, and Dallas is one of the teams to beat right now.

Without a doubt, the Stars’ biggest key to success this season is Jason Robertson, as the 23-year-old has cemented himself as one of the best players in the game. Jake Oettinger has also been one of the NHL’s best goalies this season with a .923 save percentage and 2.23 goals against average. Even longtime stars Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have rebounded from some rough recent seasons.

That said, Dallas’ roster is not perfect. If the Stars want to make a Stanley Cup run this season, some moves at the trade deadline would go a long way. But what moves should they make? Let’s find out.

3. Trade away Anton Khudobin

No matter what, Anton Khudobin will always have a special spot in Stars fans’ hearts. The journeyman goalie experienced a career renaissance in Dallas, especially when he posted a .930 save percentage in the 2019-20 season. That same season, Khudobin stepped up in the playoffs and brought Dallas within two games of the 2020 Stanley Cup.

After that magical run, though, Khudobin has regressed dramatically. He only played nine games last season and has spent the entirety of this season in the minors. As great as he was when he arrived in Dallas, he isn’t doing the team any good in the minors and it’s time to move on.

Now, the Stars won’t get anything more than a late draft pick for the 36-year-old goalie, but that’s completely fine. The main goal of this move is to get rid of his contract, which is still costing them $2.2 million even when he’s in the minors. The Stars only have about $600,000 in cap space, so shedding Khudobin’s cap hit would provide some much-needed flexibility. Surely, some team could have a place for him as a depth goalie.

2. Acquire a second-pairing defenseman

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At first glance, a team allowing the second-fewest goals per game loading up on defense seems like a strange choice. However, a large part of Dallas’ good defensive numbers is due to Oettinger being a brick wall in net. The Stars’ actual defensemen are relatively pedestrian, save for former top draft pick Miro Heiskanen.

If Dallas was to boost its defense at the deadline, it would probably be best to acquire a second-pairing defenseman. This type of player would add some defensive depth to the team, and wouldn’t cost much to acquire. Especially considering the next trade idea on the list, going for a mid-tier defender would be the best move.

But what players fit this bill for the Stars? Well, Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas Morning News laid out a few potential options, which include Dmitry Kulikov of the Anaheim Ducks, Scott Mayfield of the New York Islanders, Luke Schenn of the Vancouver Canucks, and Justin Braun of the Philadelphia Flyers. All of those players play on the right side, which is the Stars’ weaker side on defense, and are on expiring contracts. These players and more could be a nice short-term option for the Stars in their push for a cup.

1. Acquire Timo Meier from San Jose

Now here’s the big splash move that would capture headlines from every hockey outlet. San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier is one of the top trade targets at the deadline, and considering he has scored nearly a point per game over the last two seasons, it’s easy to see why. The 26-year-old carries a $6 million cap hit this season, and will then become a free agent this summer.

Dallas isn’t one of the big players in the Meier sweepstakes, but they aren’t out of the picture. Meier’s high cap-hit will be difficult to work around for the cap-strapped Stars, but with some cap gymnastics, it can work. In fact, Saad Yousuf, who covers the Stars for the Athletic, recently floated the idea of acquiring Meier after Dallas’ game against San Jose on Jan. 18.

“The trade deadline is March 3, so we’re about to ramp up examining what the Stars need and what they can do,” Yousuf wrote. “As one would expect, the Stars are already gauging their roster and evaluating what the options could be over the next month and a half. If Meier is an option, he made it a little harder for the Stars to ignore him with his performance Wednesday. Even if Dallas can’t make the math with Meier work, the Sharks forward showed the Stars what kind of player they should be looking for at the deadline.”

Is Dallas acquiring Meier particularly realistic given the cap situation and the inevitable bidding war for his services? No, but it would be an absolute dream scenario if it did happen. Meier could instantly catapult the Stars into being one of the biggest favorites for the Stanley Cup.