We’re going to be inundated in the next few days with trade rumors flying. Trying to list all the names out there and all the teams attached to all those names would be exhausting, but so far what I’m here to report is that there’s really nothing to report... and that in itself is something worth reporting.
You see, we’ve spent the better part of the last two days watching rumors of defensemen moving around the NHL and, as fans of a team in desperate need of an upgrade on their blue line, we’ve seen painfully little in the way of Detroit’s involvement in such rumors.
While the Oilers/Canucks’ interest in PK Subban makes a lot of sense and the Wings being able to land that guy seems a pipe dream, we can forgive the team for not appearing in any of the scuttlebutt surrounding the best of the defensemen out in the rumors today. But outside of Subban, there’s lots of talk about Cam Fowler, Kevin Shattenkirk, Dmitry Kulikov, and Jacob Trouba. We’ve already seen Keith Yandle move and we’ve heard rumblings that Minnesota is looking to give up some defensive depth to land a forward.
What we’re not seeing in any of these rumblings is Detroit’s involvement. Teams like Buffalo, Boston, Montreal, and Vancouver are consistently mentioned by the bigger names as teams “interested” in making deals for guys, as are a number of other teams just getting kind of side-glance mentions, but the only rumblings we’re getting from national guys about Detroit involve moving Datsyuk or signing Stamkos.
That’s a little weird to me.
Obviously, it doesn’t take Bob McKenzie reporting to mean that Ken Holland is calling and asking about guys, but there is a sneaking concern that what we’re seeing is hints of a 2012 offseason strategy where the Wings went all in for a big name (Ryan Suter) and were left lonely on the dance floor by even the also-rans because of a big swing and a miss.
If the Wings are staying quiet because of a planned push for Steven Stamkos, then a failure to land him while largely dismissing the defenseman market going on right now is not going to be a popular nor a particularly understandable move in hindsight for the Red Wings. It’s a tough call for the GM to manage in the cap world because it very much seems an either/or consideration, but neither/nor is a looming possibility, which could be very troublesome for the Wings. It’s not entirely impossible to get a plan out that includes both of these things though.
As it stands right now, General Fanager has the Wings with about $12.6M in cap space, including the hits for Datsyuk and Franzen. If you move Franzen to LTIR, you get $16.6M with a need to fill out four forward slots (assuming Mantha, Jurco, and Athanasiou are all already on the team), three defensive slots, and one goaltender slot.
A decent chunk of that space is going to go for paying contract extensions for Danny DeKeyser and Petr Mrazek, with additional dollars disappearing for Alexey Marchenko and potentially for Teemu Pulkkinen. Obviously, moving Howard out would create even more space.
If all the stars align perfectly and the Wings could find takers for Datsyuk and Howard without giving up much, they could find themselves with enough space for Mrazek, DeKeyser, Stamkos, some random backup goalie, depth fill-ins, and a good defenseman.
Granted, the stars never align perfectly and the idea that they’re going to end up with nearly $13M in additional cap space doesn’t seem terribly likely. It just sure seems odd that the Wings don’t seem to be in the market for any of the defensemen rumored available right now. If that’s because they’re putting all of their eggs in the Stamkos basket, then all I can say is coming back empty again is going to be very bad for the Red Wings.