We're so close to the NHL Trade Deadline you can almost taste it. What will it taste like, though? Is it going to taste like a delicious birthday cake because Ken Holland made good moves? Is it going to be a turd sandwich because we traded a heap of valuable assets for a depth player(s)? Or is just going to be okay, because we didn't do anything and there's really nothing wrong with that.
Primer from Pierre LeBrun's article yesterday, which touched on Ken Holland's plans going into the trade deadline:
"Similarly, the Detroit Red Wings would look to add before Monday's deadline if it means getting an impact player for their top six up front. But like the Wild, I don't believe Wings GM Ken Holland has any inclination to move out a first-round pick to do it. So if Holland makes a move before the deadline, somehow it's for an impact forward and yet without having to pay out a first-rounder. Which means perhaps he does nothing at all. It really depends on how the trade market plays out in terms of what teams are asking. If he can use other, lower-end assets to get it done, he will look at it."
I'm going to break down all three situations for you. I encourage everyone to comment with your opinions on the matter. Let's have fun! Let's get weird!
To buy, or not to buy?
The Red Wings have been quasi-buyers the past couple of seasons. They've brought names like David Legwand, Erik Cole, and Marek Zidlicky to town for prospects and draft picks. Out of the three, the Zidlicky deal was the only one I truly liked. There's plenty of arguments to be made with Ken Holland's asset management, but I don't care to get into that. Calle Jarnkrok isn't a player I think changes the Red Wings woes this season, and Mattias Janmark wouldn't have had a shot at making this roster in the next year or two. Moving on.
If Detroit intends on buying at the trade deadline, rental players shouldn't be what they're looking for. Why? Because they need to quit sinking assets into players they have no intention of signing in the offseason. What makes most sense is looking for a younger player who you can use as a building block for the future. A player like Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm, Matt Dumba, or even Kevin Shattenkirk (despite his older age, and his contract status). The Red Wings have a few different lucrative trade pieces like Gustav Nyquist, Teemu Pulkkinen, draft picks, etc. Whether or not Ken Holland is willing to divvy up assets of that tier would be very un-Ken Holland. However, you should always look to improve your team not just now, but for the future. If it took Gustav Nyquist and a couple of other pieces to get a guy like Lindholm, I make that deal.
Quick note - Trading for a guy like Andrew Ladd is the wrong call for this team. From what it sounds like around the league, he could end up going for a first round draft pick and a prospect. That would be worth it for a team like Chicago, or Washington, but not the Red Wings. Does Ladd help the team? Sure. Is it worth mortgaging the future for the marginal improvement he makes? I don't think so.
To sell, or not to sell?
We're still in a playoff spot, so selling doesn't make much sense unless you're moving pending UFA players for cap space to buy with. The unfortunate thing is that the players who are to become UFA might not have much value around the league. Names that come to mind are Kyle Quincey, Darren Helm, and even Brad Richards. Unfortunately, the only one who might draw immediate attention is Darren Helm, and I just don't see the team trading him away. I have my doubts they even let him reach free agency. I think we see Helm re-sign on a multi-year contract between now and July.
Kyle Quincey could, and should be moved. He has no true value to the team's performance, his value sits in the flexibility it gives the team in terms of cap, and an everyday open spot for a guy like Alexey Marchenko. The Wings could sweeten the deal by absorbing some of his cap-hit to make him more desirable but I'm not sure that's enough. At this point, I'd entertain moving him for bottom draft picks or even future considerations. If the Red Wings are intending on getting the most out of their young defensemen in Xavier Ouellet, Alexey Marchenko, Nick Jensen, and Robbie Russo, they're going to need to prioritize shedding these contracts somehow.
The "we like our team" approach
We know this narrative. We've seen it before, and have been upset over it countless times. Honestly, though, unless GMKH has a stellar deal that completely knocks his socks off, this could very well be the smartest course of action with this year's trade deadline. If we look at our first two options, we can breakdown why I think this:
- Buying: Expensive, have been unsuccessful with it in prior years, draft picks are at a premium nowadays especially for a team like Detroit who are walking a thin line of contending and rebuilding.
- Selling: Essentially kissing a playoff run goodbye, possible very little interest in the assets you're trying to sell.