No trade clauses seem to have become the “in-thing” in negotiations as NTC’s are more prevalent than ever. Many general managers are forced to offer them to entice free agents to come to their teams. Other teams just give them to their top players to prove their loyalty to that player. For instance, the Tampa Bay Lightning have eight no-trade clauses on their roster, but that’s normal for a team that is expected to contend for a Stanley Cup.
However, what about the Detroit Red Wings. The struggling franchise is tied with Ottawa for a league-high 10 no-trade clauses on their roster for a team that’s already capped out with nothing to show for it but a roster of aging, overpriced veterans. The best option for Detroit and general manager Ken Holland, who handed out those no-trade clauses would be to trade off their veterans and start a massive rebuild. Can’t do that, according to Yahoo Sports Greg Wyshynski, who writes that Detroit is in a tough situation compared to other teams. One key to the way general managers use no-trade clauses is how they are utilized and with all of their no-trade clauses, the team will be hamstrung for many years.
Holland and the Red Wings have given full no-trade clauses to Justin Abdelkader, who has three more years of a no-trade clause before it becomes a modified trade clause, but the 30-year-old is locked up for another six years. Gustav Nyquist has a full no-trade clause for the two years remaining on his contract. Darren Helm also has a full no-trade clause through next season, although that can be voided beyond that if he fails to be among the team’s top-nine forwards or if the team doesn’t make the playoffs. However, again, he has a four-year deal. Four defensemen have full no-trade clauses, including Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, Jonathan Ericsson and newly signed Trevor Daley. Other than Green, all of them possess full no-trade clauses for the next year, but eventually turn into modified no-trade clauses in 2018-19 or later. To make matters even more difficult, Detroit also has three players with modified no-trade clauses, including Frans Nielsen, Niklas Kronwall and goaltender Jimmy Howard, that will only make a rebuild more challenging for the Red Wings.
Perhaps the biggest problem, according to Wyshynski, is that seven of the 10 no-trade clauses are in the hands of players that are 30 or older and whether there was a need to give one this offseason to Daley, who many viewed as a questionable acquisition in the first place, let alone that they gave him a two years worth of a full no-trade clause to go with his three-year, $9.5MM contract at age 33.
While some no trade clauses are unavoidable and even necessary to get a player to sign on the dotted line, it’s critical to know when to offer one and when not to. Wyshynski uses the Minnesota Wild as an example of a team who has six no-trade clauses on their roster and used them wisely. They handed ones out to Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter, where they were critical in negotiations and are franchise-type players. They used one on veteran Eric Staal to convince him to come to Minnesota last year, which worked out quite well. Finally, defenseman Jared Spurgeon and goaltender Devan Dubnyk each received modified no-trade clauses, but again, both are key pieces to the team’s success. That’s how it should be done.
The question is, how long will it take for Detroit to recover from these long-term contracts with all these no-trade clauses in place. Of course, after the Daley deal, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Detroit has learned from its mistakes anyway.