Wilson, 25, was acquired from Pittsburgh by Detroit on Oct. 21 and appeared in 17 games with the Red Wings, recording 10 shots on goal and 22 hits while averaging 7:27 time on ice. The Oakville, Ontario, native has totaled 32 points (13-19-32) and 44 penalty minutes in 123 career NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Red Wings since the 2014-15 campaign. Wilson won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Penguins in 2016 and 2017. He missed the team’s playoff run in 2016 due to injury but produced 26 points (8-18-26) and 32 penalty minutes in 78 regular-season games and added six points (3-3-6) in 20 postseason games to help the Penguins to their second-consecutive Stanley Cup.
The Red Wings currently hold 17 picks over the next two entry drafts: nine for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft (with one pick in the first, fourth and seventh rounds and two picks in the second, third and sixth rounds) and eight in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft (holding their own draft pick in each round plus the fifth-round pick acquired from Buffalo).
Wilson was a spare part on a team that's clearly in need of better primary pieces and had fallen behind David Booth on the depth chart. While I liked what Wilson brought edgewise, his skillset and low ceiling wasn't really suited for long-term scratch material on the Wings.
This trade frees up negligible cap space, but enough roster room to bring a guy like Tyler Bertuzzi or Evgeny Svechnikov in to start the growth of their NHL careers on the path to realizing what should be a much-higher ceiling than Wilson brought.