Detroit has had strong depth on the back end for the majority of the season. With a trade market that isn’t the most robust, it appears they may be looking to take advantage of that as ESPN’s Emily Kaplan reports that the Red Wings are listening to offers on some of their blueliners.
While Kaplan’s report doesn’t specify which players in particular they’re listening on, the shorter list might be who they likely wouldn’t consider moving. Moritz Seider is clearly off the table while Jake Walman is having a career year and is on a value contract and likely isn’t going to be someone GM Steve Yzerman would be willing to part with. Beyond those two, however, all bets could be off.
Shayne Gostisbehere has been strong offensively as expected, notching 36 points in 57 games to lead all Detroit rearguards in scoring. He’s on a one-year, $4.125MM contract and a playoff contender could look to try to add him. That said, the Red Wings are squarely in the playoff mix themselves and moving out a key contributor might not be the right course of action if they’re trying to end their postseason drought.
Among their other defenders, Justin Holl hasn’t had quite the season Detroit was hoping for when they gave him $3.4MM per year for three seasons. He has often been the odd man out in their defensive rotation so it stands to reason that they might want to try to get out of those final two years. A right-shot defender, Holl’s handedness could give him a potential suitor or two. The late-summer acquisition of Jeff Petry helped create the logjam on the back end. With double retention on his contract, his price tag is down to a manageable $2.343MM through next season and is someone a few more teams could fit in. However, he has a 15-team no-trade clause and might not be inclined to leave his hometown team. Detroit also cannot pay down his contract anymore as two retentions is the maximum on a player.
As for their other left-shot blueliners, Ben Chiarot’s $4.75MM price tag through 2025-26 might be difficult for a lot of teams to absorb and while he isn’t playing big minutes like he did in Montreal, he’s still a top-four option for them. Olli Maatta, meanwhile, is more affordable at $3MM through next season although he’s being used exclusively on the third pairing; that AAV for that role is a little high. With Simon Edvinsson making good progress with AHL Grand Rapids, there’s less risk in moving a left-shot option knowing that the 2021 first-round is close to being ready to step in.
With the Red Wings holding down a Wild Card spot, it would be surprising to see Yzerman sell like he did last season. Frankly, adding to his group would be more than defensible. But with the market for blueliners not being the greatest, it appears as if he’s open to selling one even though there isn’t necessarily an obvious candidate to move for top value.
Detroit is one of the few playoff teams with ample cap space so they will have the ability to get creative between now and the March 8th trade deadline; clearing out a veteran on the back end would only open up more flexibility on that front unless they opt for a player-for-player swap. Either way, it appears as if they’ll be a team to keep an eye on in the coming days.