The Dallas Stars are once again contenders for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. To be fair, this isn't entirely surprising. After all, they came within two wins of the 2023 Stanley Cup Final. However, they fell to the eventual champion Vegas Golden Knights last spring. At the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline, they have a chance to avoid a repeat performance.

The Stars want to win a Stanley Cup sooner rather than later. They've wanted this since their surprising run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020. Now, it looks like they have a legit shot. Dallas is leading the Central Division at this time. Their lead over the Winnipeg Jets is only one point, but they are still in contention.

As the NHL Trade Deadline nears, the pressure to make a move increases. The Jets have already made a major move of their own. Winnipeg acquired forward Sean Monahan from the Montreal Canadiens ahead of the NHL All-Star Game. Dallas could, and probably should, respond in kind.

But what move makes sense for the Stars? The Jets needed a second-line center for their playoff push. And while the cost was steep, Monahan has had a resurgent season. That said, what hole does Dallas need to fill for the fight ahead? Here is the dream 2024 NHL Trade Deadline scenario for the Dallas Stars.

Dallas' biggest need

The Stars have not received perfect goaltending this season. However, they have a good enough duo that can win them games in the postseason. Jake Oettinger also has a bit of a track record of incredible postseason performances. Goaltending is not an issue here, and neither is their forward depth.

Through the process of elimination, the Stars could use help on the blueline. Miro Heiskanen and Thomas Harley have played well this year. Especially when playing together on the same pairing. That said, the rest of their defense has been suspect at best. It's especially glaring given how defensive depth cost them in the playoffs last year.

Nils Lundkvist, Ryan Suter, and Jani Hakanpaa have had extremely rough stretches this season. Hakanpaa and Lundkvist have missed some time with injuries as of late. And their return to the ice may be helpful if they come back strong. Even then, though, Dallas could make a move on the back end.

So, the dream scenario for the Stars is simple. Dallas must acquire a defenseman, preferably one who can play in the team's top four. There are plenty of options to choose from at the NHL Trade Deadine this year. However, one scenario stands above the rest as one that would be an incredible get for Dallas.

Noah Hanifin is Stars' best option


Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin (55) controls the puck against the Dallas Stars during the first period in game seven of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Saddledome.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Stars' true dream scenario is acquiring Calgary Flames rearguard Noah Hanifin. Hanifin, 26, is in the final year of his contract. And, to be fair, he is a left-hand shot while Dallas could use a right-hand shot. However, Dallas can allow Lundkvist to continue the progression we've seen as of late and make this move.

Hanifin is an incredibly reliable player. Coaches can deploy him in any situation and trust that he'll get the job done. He can defend well and score a bit at even strength. If you need help on the power play, the veteran defenseman can chip in there. How about penalty-killing insurance? Hanifin can help kill penalties, even if he isn't the most physical player out there.

Of course, one consideration to keep in mind is the salary cap. Dallas is projected to have about $3.175 million in cap space at the deadline, according to Cap Friendly. The Flames could retain salary, but they historically haven't. In fact, it's believed salary retention played a part in killing a Jacob Markstrom trade with the New Jersey Devils.

In any event, if the Stars and Flames can work something out, this is a win-win. Dallas has future assets they can offer Calgary in exchange for Noah Hanifin. And the Stars receive a legitimate top-four defenseman who could play a crucial part in a run at the Stanley Cup. Don't be surprised if Hanifin lands in Texas at the NHL Trade Deadline.