As we dig through the wreckage of the Red Wings 2014-15 season with the harsh glare of hindsight, we come to a look at Detroit's trade deadline activity in an attempt to make sense of it all. Obviously, if we look at results, the Wings didn't get what they want, but did Ken Holland do the wrong thing or was the 2015 deadline an indication that Ken Holland is moving in the right direction?
#72 / Left Wing / Detroit Red Wings
Nov 6, 1978
What Detroit traded away: Mattias Backman (D), Mattias Janmark (C), 2nd Round Draft Pick (2015)
What Detroit received: Erik Cole (LW), 3rd Round Draft Pick (2015)
What we expected: A big-bodied and speedy, but aging scoring power forward type who could replace what the Wings had lost with Johan Franzen.
What happened: Cole played in 11 games for the Red Wings, scoring 3 goals and 3 assists before being injured on March 24th against Arizona. A recurring spinal/neck injury ended his season as he awkwardly hit his head on a Coyotes player while aggressively driving the net (the play resulted in a penalty against the Coyotes as Cole was hooked). The contact itself looked like nothing serious, but Cole had previously broken his neck in 2006 while with the Carolina Hurricanes and team doctors shut him down to protect him.
Was it worth it? - The harsh light of hindsight probably says that it wasn't, as injury risk was always going to be higher with a guy who plays a physical style and is older than Datsyuk. I find trouble faulting Holland for going out and getting a scorer at the cost of two prospects that were never going to make the team and with moving down what turned out to be 23 picks from their 2nd rounder to Dallas' 3rd. Holland gambled and lost with this one, but he didn't gamble very badly. Cole's play up to the point of injury suggested he was a good fit.
Trade Grade: C
#28 / Defense / Detroit Red Wings
Feb 3, 1977
What Detroit traded away: 3rd Round Draft Pick (2016)
What Detroit received: Marek Zidlicky, $1M in salary relief
What we expected: The puck-moving right-shooting veteran defenseman who could QB the power play and actually keep pucks in the zone as they're dumped up the right-side boards in the offensive zone.
What happened: In 21 regular season games, Zidlicky became the 4th-highest scoring Red Wings' defenseman. With 11 points total and 3 goals (including an OT game-winner against the Rangers in his very first match with Detroit), Zidlicky brought a new angle to the Wings' blueline. Unfortunately, 8 of those 11 points came in Zidlicky's first ten games. He slowed down considerably after that and was unable to notch a single point in the playoffs, missing the last game with a concussion suffered at the hands of what was most-likely a late elbow by Brenden Morrow.
Was it worth it? - Again, the fact that Detroit failed to make it out of the first round with Zidlicky and the fact that he didn't do much to help them even drive that series to seven games leads to a probable no answer, but we're also looking at a fairly minuscule price to have paid for that gamble. If we knew then what we know now, it's probable that we're all just demanding Marchenko from the get-go, but it's hard to forget how much more dynamic the Red Wings' blue line was over those first ten games with Zidlicky back there.
Trade Grade: B-
In looking at trades made to earn a first-round exit, it's hard to be happy in the results, but overall I don't think Holland failed in terms of trading. We can argue until we're blue in the face about the things that led to the Wings needing to get a big, scoring power-forward type and a puck-moving righty on the back end, but they were obvious needs for the team to try and make a run and they're what Ken Holland went out to get without spending any of the big future assets.
The season didn't go like we wanted it to, but I don't think the trade deadline moves made are the reason. In fact, I believe they're a good sign of a willingness to take these kinds of smart gambles in the future.
Overall Trade Grade: B