After the Detroit Red Wings traded away winger Tomas Tatar last week at the trade deadline, the team has split his minutes in two directions. Prospect Tyler Bertuzzi has replaced Tatar’s spot in the lineup alongside Andreas Athanasiou and Dylan Larkin, while veteran Martin Frk has taken the departed forward’s power play minutes in hopes of proving worthy of returning to a top line in the future. So far, Bertuzzi has fared well in the two games he’s played in Tatar’s even-strength role, picking up two assists, while averaging more that 14 minutes of ice time. However, don’t expect that to stay that way next year, writes the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James.
While the team does want to get an extended look at Bertuzzi, what it’s really waiting for is next season. Then they will take long looks at winger Evgeny Svechnikov, the team’s first-rounder in 2015, and 2017 first-rounder Michael Rasmussen, who is expected to be the center of the future in Detroit. Rasmussen, is coming off a solid season in the WHL and might be ready to join the Red Wings next season. As for Svechnikov, the hope is that he is ready for a spot in Detroit next season, but has struggled at times in his first year in the AHL.
- St. James also adds that don’t expect too many call-ups this year as the Grand Rapids Griffins are still fighting for a playoff spot in AHL, so players like Svechnikov, Filip Hronek and Matt Puempel might not see a lot of time in Detroit as they are needed in Grand Rapids.
- In the same article, St. James writes that the team will have to also take a long look at backup goalie Jared Coreau, who was recalled from the Grand Rapids Griffins after the team traded away Petr Mrazek. She writes that the team has doubts he can be a quality NHL backup and with one year left on Jimmy Howard’s contract, the team will be hard-pressed to find their future starter in one year. One possibility could be signing Mrazek back again in the offseason. With Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth already signed for next season, it seems unlikely that the Philadelphia Flyers will retain Mrazek, especially when he has a $4MM qualifying offer. Could Detroit make him their future No. 1?
- Craig Custance of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that the team might consider extending Howard’s deal for one more year to give the team more time to find their goalie of the future. However, with the Red Wings looking to get as many picks as possible for their future, it would also make a lot of sense for the team to move him before the draft as team’s wouldn’t mind acquiring a veteran with just one year left on his deal.
- In the same story, Custance also takes a look at the way-too early protected list if there is an expansion draft in 2020 for the Seattle franchise, which seems inevitable. Sadly, the top two players the Red Wings would be forced to protect will be veterans Henrik Zetterberg and Frans Nielsen. The hope is that Zetterberg, who will be 39 by then, will have retired, which would free up a spot, however, Nielsen has a no-movement clause and then, at age 35, should not be on that list. However, the veteran, who would still have two years left on his deal at $5.25MM AAV at that point, is likely going to cost Detroit a quality player down the road.