The Trade Deadline has passed and the smoke is clearing on the rubble of the Red Wings roster. Ok, that’s not accurate. The Wings trimmed some extra players off their roster and sold their most-obvious rental before the 3pm trade deadline on March 1st while still maintaining a relative core of players that will hopefully all be able to rebound enough from two straight disappointing years in order to not ruin the beginnings of the Little Caesars Arena.
Lots of fans won’t like to hear that the rebuild hasn’t been so complete, but in looking around the league at what went (and what specifically didn’t go from Colorado), Detroit is well-positioned to make changes prior to the first Kid Rock concert at the new digs. Let’s take a look at the moves:
Tomas Jurco to Chicago for a 2017 3rd round pick (Feb 24th)
Jurco had hit a dead end in Detroit and was either going to be forced to sign another RFA deal to keep his NHL dream alive, lost on waivers, released to unrestricted free agency, or driven to go play in Europe by what happened to him in Detroit. There’s a decent chance that hindsight is going to make the Wings look foolish for accepting only a third for him, but the fact that this is what they were able to get in this point of time before all that context disappears to hindsight, this deal was a win.
Brendan Smith to the Rangers for a 2017 3rd and a 2018 2nd round pick (Feb 28th)
This was probably Holland’s best deal of the deadline. There were contract talks before the move was made. The Wings were looking to re-sign Smith to a 3 year deal worth $3.5M per season. Ultimately, Holland said the offer for 2nd and 3rd round picks was something he couldn’t pass up. That’s a smart decision by the Wings’ GM especially considering Smith is a UFA at the end of the year. Smith is one of those players that we (definitely I) had high expectations for. Despite all his potential and solid advanced numbers, he never quite blossomed into that constant top 4 defenseman. I could easily see Smith excel in a different environment and reach a level of play he never would’ve accomplished here. Good for him if he does. At the end of the day though, the return from the Rangers was just too sweet. Another job well done from Holland.
Grade: Thumbs Up aka A
Steve Ott to the Canadiens for a 2018 6th round pick (March 1)
You know those nights where you’re out late at the bar with friends having a great time and then you stumble home, open your fridge and realize you have half a leftover pizza waiting for you? That’s pretty much the Ott trade.
The Jurco and Smith deals are the equivalent of the great night out and Ott trade is the leftover pizza. You wanted food, but you weren’t really expecting any... and then all the sudden the pizza (aka a 6th round pick) appears and it’s one of the most joyous happy moments.
Thomas Vanek to the Panthers for a 2017 3rd round pick* and Dylan McIlrath (March 1st)
*If the Panthers make the playoffs, the pick becomes Arizona’s 3rd rounder instead of Florida’s.
If Smith & Jurco are the great night out and Ott is the leftover pizza, I guess you could compare the Vanek trade to the hangover the next morning.
The return on Vanek was surprising. We all had dreams of 1st round picks and prospects. The market, however, disagreed with us. We all got a bit caught up in the fun of watching Vanek play this season and kind of forgot he’s a bit of a one dimensional player. Teams didn’t seem to be clamoring for him or any other wingers out there. It’s possible they were scared off by Vanek’s past playoff disappointments too. At the time of the deal, it looked bad. Once we got to the 3pm deadline, Holland did okay considering the market. I still wish there was more, but hey, at least we’re not the Colorado Avalanche and gave Jarome Iginla away for quite possible nothing.
It should be noted that we all have to become Panthers fans now. If they make the postseason, we end up with the Coyotes 3rd rounder and that’s a significant difference. The pick essentially becomes a late 2nd.
If you would’ve told me at the beginning of February that the Wings would trade Thomas Vanek, Thomas Jurco, Steve Ott and Brendan Smith for a 2nd, three 3rds, a 6th and Dylan McIlrath... I would’ve been happy with that return. I know we all really, really wanted that second 1st round pick, but ultimately Ken Holland did a solid job selling. He shipped out the players that needed to be dealt. I wouldn’t have traded Riley Sheahan unless you got a 1st in return (or maybe a 2nd and a high end prospect). He’ll bounce back from his zero goal season. He’s cheap and decent. There was no reason to sell low. If Gus Nyquist or Tomas Tatar left town, it would’ve had to be for a real good return as well.
Now that all is said and done, Detroit has 11 picks in the 2017 draft. Six of those picks are in the first three rounds. They have nine picks in next years draft too. The rebuild is here and stockpiling picks could go a long way to speed up the process for Holland and company.
Overall Grade: B