Written by Alex Paul and can be followed on twitter at @AKaserman1991
With the trade deadline quickly approaching, the Detroit Red Wings should be relatively quiet once again.
Before the Olympic freeze the Wings started to find a groove, going 3-1-1, and the regulation loss coming against Tampa. It seemed though at the time that every team chasing that 8th and final playoff spot, Columbus, Ottawa, Philadelphia, and Washington just could not lose. Detroit managed to follow suit and find themselves in the final spot, 6 points behind Toronto and Montreal, and 7 points behind Tampa.
The big problem thus far for Detroit is all of their injuries. Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Weiss, Franzen, and Howard have all missed significant time. As soon as one is about to return it seems like another one is going down. When the season started the LTIR was used just to get cap compliant because they were right at the threshold, and have been there all year. With all these big names out, it has given a chance for the young guys to come up a little prematurely for Detroit’s standards, but it looks like they will be just fine in the show.
So as the injuries continue to stack up, would it make sense for the Wings to make a big splash?
This team could use some help on the defensive end, a right handed top 4 defenseman is what is really needed. Brendan Smith has had games where he has looked very good and then games where he has looked very bad. Jakub Kindl has been just bad for the most part, which is shocking after how well he played in the playoffs last year. These guys are still young though and are learning, the expendable piece is Kyle Quincey. He has an expiring contract and could probably bring back a mid/late round pick, and we all know what the Wings have done with those in the past.
So who do they look to get when you have guys like Sproul, Oullet, Backman, Marchenko, and Almquist, do you make a trade for a rental? Most likely, all of those guys won’t pan out but they are so close to being ready. There are no defenders that are known to be available that it would make sense to include one of these guys in the deal. If the rumors that the Preds could make Shea Weber available this offseason, should Detroit make a run at him now? He would be the right handed, stud defenseman that the Wings need. Brian Campbell of Florida could be looked at as a veteran that can log big minutes and be solid in the defensive zone.
Now you read that and say there is no way the Preds trade Weber, but think about it. They are bad, well young and inexperienced, so they have to ask themselves if it makes more sense to get more talent for Weber or hang on to him and lose with him in his prime. Detroit could offer up Backman, Marchenko, plus pick(s). Two highly thought of defensive prospects and picks for Weber. There are also forwards that could be included. I just think the trade makes more sense than people think. The Wings would just need to get rid of some cap space first, or have Nashville take on some of the expiring contracts the Wings have.
As for the forwards, it has been the revolving door to the LTIR. After the break is over, everyone is supposed to be back with the exception of Henrik Zetterberg. While Weiss was a disappointment to start the season, he can’t get any worse right? Another depth player is not what this team needs, they have plenty of 4th line guys and the kids (Tatar, Sheahan, Jurco) have solidified the third line.
The excitement that would come with bringing in a guy like Vanek or Gaborik, it doesn’t make sense to get rid of a key prospect or two and potentially the highest pick Detroit has had in years.
It needs to be accepted that replacing a player like Zetterberg is impossible at the trade deadline, almost impossible during free agency because these guys never get there.
There are players that if I am Detroit I would make available, and could have teams like the Islanders and Oilers foaming at the mouth. The first is Jimmy Howard. Yeah Yeah he just signed his extension, carried the team last year, and is having a down year, so what is his real value? His real value is a starting goalie capable of playing every night and a team friendly contract. He is signed through 2018 with a $5.2 million cap hit. With what Gustavsson has done this season and with Mrazek waiting in the minors, Ken Holland should explore this. If they can get a guarantee from Vanek that he will resign, do they look to trade Howard for Vanek? A team who has needed a goalie for how long now would finally get a proven NHL goalie. Or do the Wings call up the Oilers and try to bring in another young gun?
The other player is Johan Franzen. He has a friendly $4 million cap hit, but it is one of those nasty long contracts. He does hold value being a big goal scoring power forward, and has always shown up come playoff time. If he does not get traded then I could see the Wings buying him out this off season.
After placing Zetterberg on the LTIR and activating Weiss, Detroit has about $2.9 million in cap space.
There just are many players that would help Detroit that are available. I think the youth movement is here for the Wings and thus far looks very promising. The only way I see a big trade being made is if it involves Franzen, Quincey, lesser but still intriguing prospects like Ferraro or Athanasiou, or draft picks. There just is not much cap space to work with, so some of an acquired contract would have to be eaten and that would drive the price up a little more. The Wings do have a ton of prospects, who cannot all be called up or retained, so I do think a trade will be made at some point, but just not at the trade deadline; at least for a big name.
The fact that there are more buyers than sellers means the price for players will be at a premium, and that is why I don’t think Detroit will make a big trade. I do think it is a guarantee that Vanek is traded, but he will go to the highest bidder and I’m unsure what the Isles expect in return. Now could Detroit make a smaller trade like for Legwand or Cammalleri, yeah possibly but I do not think it would help much or be smart.
Being a wings fan for life, for the first time, before this season started I said I was more excited for next season already. The wings clear a ton of cap space losing Alfie, Cleary, Bert, Quincey, Sammy, and Eaves. They will have over $21 million in cap space with only DeKeyser, Tatar, and Sheahan as guys the must be resigned. I never thought we would get to see Jurco and Sheahan this year but they are proving why I was more excited for next season.