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Red Wings Bout with NTC Habit Left Them Green

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The Red Wings were unable to trade Mike Green because of a bad habit that might still cause issues for the rebuild.

Detroit Red Wings v Boston Bruins Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

So, the Red Wings were not able to trade Mike Green at the deadline despite seemingly weeks to months of talk leading up to today’s trade deadline of teams interested in him and the Red Wings willingness to trade him. What happened? Why is Mike Green still a Red Wing for the rest of the season? What does this mean for the Red Wings going forward? Let’s start with why he was not moved.

Most will say it was a combination of three things, but I only see two with one being by the far the root cause. While we do not yet know what has kept Green from playing in the last five games, I do not believe it is anything serious. If it was the Wings would have said so by now. I think he has/had a bump or two and the Wings held him out for precautionary reasons leading up to the trade deadline. They had already decided to sell regardless of the results of those five games so protecting as their main tradeable player made sense. Full disclosure, this does run counter to what the beat writers are reporting. According to both Helene and Ansar, the Red Wings believe his injury hurt his trade value or even scared teams away from him all together. Apparently, Ken Holland even said as much during a conference call with the diggers.

Of course, Ryan McDonagh has not played since February 7 so injury did not seem to be too much of an issue for Tampa Bay, mind you he does have another year left on his deal.

The additions of Erik Karlsson and Ryan McDonagh to the trade market certainly did play a role as they pushed Green down to the second tier of available players and forced the Red Wings out of the negotiations seat and into the passenger seat. Instead of being the team with arguably the best available defenseman on the trade market they became the team hoping there was enough of a bidding war for McDonagh and/or Karlsson that they could play off of it and make a deal with a desperate team that struck out. In most situations that would be a good plan and would probably net a nice return, but the Red Wings were not in a situation to take advantage because of a decision made almost three years ago.

In the summer of 2015 the Red Wings signed Mike Green to a somewhat surprising 3yr/$18M dollar contract. It was one of the better free agent contracts Ken Holland has been able to sign in recent times, except for one thing. He gave Mike Green a full No Trade Clause. This meant if the Red Wings ever wanted to trade Green they would have to obtain his permission and find out what teams he would approve a trade to. As pointed out earlier today, they did just that but reportedly received two teams back from Green…Tampa Bay and Washington. Going back to Ansar’s tweet above, the Wings are saying Green did not exercise his NTC to block a trade (in response to the rumors about him blocking a move to Toronto) and others reported that while Tampa Bay and Washington were fully approved he was willing to consider other teams on a case by case basis.

We do not really know exactly the details around how much the injury played a role or how open Green was to being traded, but we do know that they Red Wings would not have been in that situation had they not given Green a full NTC.

Initially Tampa seemed like a no brainer. They wanted to upgrade their blue line and Green would be able to slot into a role of third pairing defenseman/power play specialist that would fit his skills well. Tampa also had the cap space to take on the rest of Green’s salary (with the Wings likely retaining some) without the Red Wings having to take a roster player or two back. Washington was only really an option if the Red Wings were willing to take back salary in return because the Capitals were right up against the cap. Normally this would be a smart move, especially if the player coming back had term left because it could increase the value of the pick(s)/prospect(s) in the deal. But with six pending RFAs and a crowded roster keeping them from giving more time to their prospects already taking on say, Brooks Orpik, is not really a smart move. But they still had Tampa…until Ryan McDonagh became available. Once that happened all the Wings could do is hope that a deal could not be made, and Tampa would come back around on Green. Based on what Tampa gave up in the deal I do not really think they were going to walk away without McDonagh. That left only Washington, and frankly I prefer keeping Green for the rest of the year, losing him in free agency for nothing and having an open spot on the blue line for Joe Hicketts, Filip Hronek and Dennis Cholowski to battle over in camp than trade Green for a first but also have Brooks Orpik on the roster for a season continuing to block those guys as well. In the end, the No Trade Clauses that the Red Wings like to hand out like Halloween candy came back to bite them (like a lot of fans said they would) and this might not be the last time either.

Looking to the future Gustav Nyquist, Niklas Kronwall, Nick Jensen, Jonathan Ericsson, Trevor Daley and Jimmy Howard will be entering the final year of their contract either next season (18-19) or the season after (19-20) …technically so is Luke Witkowski I guess. Of those players, only Nick Jensen does not have some level of a No Trade Clause. While some are structured to make them easier to trade if needed (i.e. Trevor Daley) the fact they exist puts an extra strain on the Red Wings ability to move players at the deadline and gain more picks/prospects to aid in their rebuild. I know they are a valuable tool to help in contract negotiations with a player but the Red Wings really need to be smart about how they hand out NTCs going forward, especially full NTCs. That practice likely just cost them a chance at another spin on the prospect wheel, hopefully it will be the last.