With the trade deadline fast approaching, we continue our look at the situation for each team over the coming weeks. Where do they stand, what do they need to do, and what assets do they have to fill those needs? As we continue with the Atlantic Division, here is a look at the Detroit Red Wings.
By every metric, the Detroit Red Wings should be total sellers at the deadline and they have a laundry list of notable UFA’s to move. Yet, the team claims they would prefer to re-sign starting goaltender Jimmy Howard, top-six forward Gustav Nyquist, and dependable defenseman Nick Jensen. There is also word that veterans Thomas Vanek and Niklas Kronwall are happy in Detroit and unwilling to waive their No-Trade Clauses. That doesn’t leave much on the table.
In most cases, these rumors could be dismissed as the team simply trying to up the offers on their available rentals. But not in Detroit. The fatal flaw of the current Red Wings franchise and GM Ken Holland is total, unapologetic loyalty to long-time players. If a team says they won’t move someone or will only do so for a first-round pick, this is the one team worth believing. It could be a quiet deadline in Detroit.
23-28-7, seventh in the Atlantic Division
Deadline Cap Space
$5.06MM in full-season cap hit, 0/3 used salary cap retention slots, 48/50 contracts per CapFriendly
Upcoming Draft Picks
2019: DET 1st, DET 2nd, NYI 2nd, DET 3rd, DET 4th, DET 5th, BUF 5th, CLB 5th, DET 6th, DET 7th
2020: DET 1st, DET 2nd, DET 3rd, DET 4th, DET 5th, DET 6th, DET 7th
Of course, the aforementioned players are the top trade chips that the team has. Howard and Nyquist are having great years and are surely drawing plenty of attention. Will Detroit get the first-round pick they desire to move either? That remains to be seen. Jensen and Kronwall could both step in as a solid bottom-pair addition for a contender, while Vanek would fill his frequent role as a capable depth addition to any forward corps. The fact remains that if any of these players want to stay in Detroit beyond this season, the Red Wings are unlikely to move them, extension in place or not.
So looking elsewhere, Luke Witkowski is a UFA that the Red Wings don’t seem as attached to. The market may be limited for the versatile skater, but if a team wants to take a shot, Detroit will be willing to move on. Recently waived and demoted, Martin Frk is in need of a change of scenery. Frk is a restricted free agent this summer and any number of teams might like to get a look at how he fits in their system down the stretch. The one-dimensional forward is more valuable now that he has cleared waivers and can be sent back and forth. Wade Megan, Dylan McIlrath, Brian Lashoff, and Harri Sateri are all free agents as well who could be targeted as deep depth additions.
The Jonathan Bernier signing looks like a mistake so far and the Red Wings seem eager to re-sign Howard rather than give Bernier the starting job. If another team is willing to take on the remaining two years of Bernier’s contract, Detroit would move him. Luke Glendening is another term player who could be on the move. He is still well-liked by the organization, but if the market is there they could move him. As always, if there was any way to move Justin Abdelkader or Danny DeKeyser, you would think Detroit would pull the trigger. Then again there’s that whole loyalty thing…
1) Cap Space: For several years now, the Red Wings have had one of the highest payrolls in the NHL, yet have been one of the league’s worst teams. That’s not a good mix. The flip side of wanting to re-sign top free agents, like Howard and Nyquist, is that you’re not opening up any more cap space. If Detroit wants to be players on the free agent market this summer, they need to try to move out some of their more cumbersome cap hits if possible.
2) Picks and Prospects: The Red Wings have a lot of good talent in the AHL and some others still at the junior and collegiate level. Adding picks, especially 2019 picks in a deep, talented draft class, is always helpful, though. However, there should room for some camp battles next season, particularly up front, so some pro-ready forward prospects would also be helpful.