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Point-Counterpoint: Tomas Tatar, Drafting a Forward and Kevin Shattenkirk

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The Red Wings are facing an off-season filled with tough choices.

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Chicago Blackhawks Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to another edition of Point-Counterpoint. Corey (CoreyWIIM) and Kyle (KTBauer). We will have a statement, Corey and Kyle will be placed on either side of the issue and will need to defend the side they were placed on. This will be interesting at times, because either could and will at times be placed on the side of an issue that we have to defend, but don’t agree with.

Statement: The Red Wings should draft a forward not a defenseman in the NHL Draft next month.

Point Kyle: The Red Wings struggled in every aspect this season. While we can all agree the blueline is glaring, there is a solid group of prospects on the way including Joe Hicketts, Filip Hronek, Jordan Sambrook and most notably Villi Saarijarvi. All except Sambrook are now in Grand Rapids, regarded as the puck moving type and with exception of Hicketts—who remains low-key good—have seen their stock jump. Drafting a (center) will help balance a team with nine good forwards but not one that is great—a bonafide top line player. The opportunity to take a top six center to compliment Mantha, Larkin, Athanasiou, Svechnikov and Co. is there. The Red Wings had an awful power play, struggled with generating shots and possession. Drafting and developing a true center to anchor this team will be effective moving forward.

Counterpoint Corey: I think since you never know when you will have a chance to pick a good defenseman this high at 9th overall again. They really should get some help for the blueline. Now, who that is no one obviously knows at this point but it could be one of Miro Heiskanen, Cale Makar, or Timothy Liljegren. These three in different mocks are all over the place so you should have a good chance at one of them at least. All we hear is how franchise defenseman need to be drafted and developed so if you have a chance to do, the Red Wings shouldn’t pass up the chance.

Statement: The Red Wings should trade down and acquire as many picks as possible, since the experts all agree this is a down draft year.

Point Kyle: You have to rebuild through the draft. This premise is basic enough but continues to elude our GM who enjoys handing out long-term contracts to aging and mediocre players. For the Wings to make a fundamental turn, loading up on picks is a good way to continue building upon a currently weak foundation. The Red Wings have drafted well in a sense they’re nabbing players who show strong development through the American League but struggle to make that last step. The issue is at the top, not scouting and player development. In order for the Red Wings to actually move in a new direction they should start with getting as many picks as they can, then embrace a younger roster sooner than later, working on transitioning players from the AHL to NHL. This is also a way the Red Wings can create some valuable cap space.

Counterpoint Corey: No, they should stay at the 9th overall pick. They have a chance to get a good defenseman at that spot specifically though if Liljegren is still available, I would like him to be who is selected. In a weaker draft trading down and getting more picks this year doesn’t make a lot of sense to me and I doubt because of the weaker draft this year, teams would be knocking down the door to have those picks be for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. After all, I’m not really excited about many of the players in this draft anyway and trading down would kill any excitement that I had.

Statement: The Red Wings should have gone after former Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter.

Point Corey: Yes, Since the 1999-2000 season Sutter has finished under .500 once (9-12-2-1) when he was fired early that season by San Jose. He has 525 wins since the Sharks fired him along with two Stanley Cups and one Stanley Cup Final appearance. This past season his starting goalie Jonathan Quick missed 59 games due to injury and the Kings still finished above .500. I feel like Sutter is an underrated coach and doesn’t get as much credit after all he went 107–73–26 in Calgary, making the playoffs two of his three seasons there and that is hard to do. In 17 seasons as a head coach in the NHL he has made the playoffs in 14 of them. One was because of being fired early in San Jose and the other one he went 40-27-15 with 95 points for LA in 2014-15 and then this past season LA went 39-35-8 with 89 points again without Quick for most of the way. Someone will be getting a very good coach in Sutter. His resume speaks for itself and especially with general manager Ken Holland refusing to do a full rebuild and making it known the team is aiming for the playoffs next season. He’s the perfect coach for the direction Holland still wants to go in.

Counterpoint Kyle: I say no only on the premise the Red Wings have clearly made a commitment to Blashill. I’ve been critical of him this season, he’s certainly warranted it. However we need to remember he’s been successful on every level and had a relatively strong first season with the Wings before the dip this past year. If the organization wants to keep some semblance of cohesion through this transition period, sticking with their coach or even someone from within the staff is the way to go for right now. Blashill has gone through some growing pains; nasty rumors over how much control he has in the room, his questionable comments about Mantha and Athanasiou in the media, and how he’s deployed certain players. This can be chalked up to inexperience in the show and will smooth out in time. Giving Blashill one more year could pay off in the long run. I don’t see Sutter going that long without a job.

Statement: The Red Wings should trade Tomas Tatar for help on the blueline instead of commit the dollars it will take to keep him long term

Point Kyle: Tatar proved to be one of the league’s best bargains over the past couple seasons. That bargain will come to an end when he goes to the table for his next contract. We’re seeing the typical inflation like billowing storm clouds before the next CBA lockout. Right now is the time to cut losses on certain players and as much as I love Tatar, he’s plugged deadset in a wad of middle-six forwards. With the emergence of multiple forward prospects and the need for this team to commit to youth, flipping him for a steady second pairing defenseman makes sense. Last year I wrote about someone like Jason Demers being a good target. He’d have four years left on his current deal so maybe not him specifically, but a defenseman of that mold. The Red Wings need help at every position except goaltending. Moving Tatar would be a tough choice but the defense needs a bit more repair than its forwards.

Counterpoint Corey: No! Disclaimer if there was a Tomas Tatar fan club I would be the President, but besides that I would rather deal Gustav Nyquist in a package for a good defenseman and extend Tatar and make him on of the centerpieces of the Wings offense. I know half of you would want to the the opposite and deal Tatar and keep Nyquist. The only reason it has been a debate the past two seasons, is that the Red Wings need help on defense and these two are the most logical that can bring you back something in a package deal.

Statement: The Red Wings should protect Riley Sheahan in the expansion draft.

Point Corey: This is a hard one but if we were to believe the reports at and around the trade deadline that there was lots of interest in Sheahan from other teams, I would say no. Teams are intrigued since he’s 6’3 and 226 pounds and teams like having a player like that at the center spot. He had an awful year but if you know there was an interest via trade for him then it is something you will be able to explore in the future, maybe later this summer or maybe at the deadline next season. The other point is if other teams are seeing something in Sheahan worth trading for to the point that a high draft pick was being discussed that means head coach Jeff Blashill should figure out how they are using him wrong that is preventing him from scoring goals and producing, then put him in the right spot to succeed. The last thing you want from a player that had lots of interest from other teams is losing him for nothing to Las Vegas and then having him perform well. It’s something the Red wings cannot afford to have happen right now.

Counterpoint Kyle: Sheahan playing in 80 games was one of the more baffling coaching decisions Blashill made all season. Sure, I was happy as anyone when he scored two goals the last game at The Joe, but he proved himself to be an expendable fourth liner. I like him as a solid fourth line center. I see where he gathers interest from other teams. But we’re resting on the idea that Sheahan will continue to raise his stock keeping teams interested. With the backlog of forwards the Red Wings have, why gamble on a player who’s ceiling doesn’t seem like it’ll be much higher. If we lose him for nothing, will we really be saying “OH NO HOW WILL WE FILL THIS CRATER IN OUR FANTASTIC LINEUP?!” probably not. Replace him with Tomas Nosek or Tyler Bertuzzi or Martin Frk (I could keep going). Sure, not all those players mentioned are centers but that’s what Luke Glendening is for.

Statement: Regardless of what it takes to make it happen, the Red Wings should be a major player in the Kevin Shattenkirk market.

Point Kyle: While I’d target a more modest priced defenseman, I have to attempt to think like Ken Holland to write about being interested in Shattenkirk. Other than an overtime goal, he had an underwhelming playoff that hurt his value just enough he could be a relative bargain. The Red Wings desperately need two things: a top center and top pairing defenseman. Do you believe the current brain trust can fully develop two key components to get this franchise back on track? Holland has said he’s more interested in “reloading” than the “10 years” a full rebuild will take. So one of these assets will likely have to be an impact free agent. We’ve heard now that dastardly Mike Babcock is gone and the new arena is here, the Wings will be players in the market again. So why the hell not? Draft a center, move some money around, go all in for Shattenkirk. This is probably where Holland’s mind is at.

Counterpoint Corey: Nope, the biggest reason is until they figure out what they are doing in net with Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek and with just under $6 million in cap space before the expansion draft they simply cannot afford to add a player that will command over $6-$7 million per season in Shattenkirk. There is no guarantee Vegas will pick a player making a nice chunk of change that would give cap relief for Detroit. One of the reasons I was against signing Frans Nielsen, is it took the Red Wings out of the free agency defenseman game. You would have needed that money at $5,250,000 and the some to make this work easily. As we talked about above, they still need to extend Tatar, who will take up most of your available cap space and also Andreas Athanasiou is a restricted free agent. Don’t get me wrong, Shattenkirk is a good defenseman but looking ahead a year there could be a situation when you can sign two good defenseman if they don’t extend, in Cam Fowler and John Carlson, with Mike Green off the books as well and of course, if the Red Wings are smart with the cap.