With the addition of Robby Fabbri the other day from Detroit, the message is clear from Steve Yzerman, even if it wasn’t before. He’s going to bring in expiring RFA after expiring RFA and let them all fight it out to see who stays. Fabbri, along with Perlini, are both low risk, high reward type moves. Personally, I love the Fabbri trade the most. DLR had no future here and was just apart of the logjam of 4th liners Ken Holland added over the years. Despite all the injuries of late, Fabbri still put up 18 goals as a rookie, and 15 points in 20 playoff games that year too. A fresh start with real minutes could be exactly what the former 2014 1st rounder need.
Like I said, Stevie Y has made it clear what he is looking for and I love it. He’s pushing guys like Hirose, Athanasiou, Erne, Ehn, etc. to play for their next contract. He’s not just going to guarantee a spot for anyone and that’s exactly what a bad team filled with young guys needs. So with that in mind, I don’t think Stevie is done quite yet. And here are a few realistic moves I would not only like to see, but also think could be possibilities before February 24 (or December 1) as well.
1. Pairing Nielsen and Svech to Dump Salary
In my opinion, Frans Nielsen is, and always has been, right up there with Stephen Weiss for the worst contract from Ken Holland. He’s doing his best to make that even more noticeable this year. He has 0 points, is -6 so far and for those saying he kills penalties and wins face-offs, his FO% is 43.7% on the year and the teams PK is dead last in the NHL. Pay me $5.25M a year and I PROMISE you, I could put up 0 points in the NHL. It’s to the point where he just needs to go. Yes, we aren’t going to be in cap hell anymore after this year, but there’s no point of hanging on to $5.25M of dead weight if you can get rid of him. As for Svechnikov, no I don’t want to see him go, but it seems like the organization has made it clear his time has run out in Detroit. I still believe he’ll be an okay pro, and pairing him with Nielsen’s contract could be the attachment you need to dump the Danish center. The return wouldn’t be great, but I think this a realistic scenario and one that could work out for the best.
2. Jesse Puljujarvi
I mean, how great would an Yzerman-Holland trade be this early on (Also wonder who would come out on top)? If we offered him Nielsen, I wonder if Holland would throw in a 2nd too. Okay, enough bashing KH. Jesse Puljujarvi has been a big name in the trade world for several months now as he just has never seem to fit in Edmonton. As of this week, the Oilers are starting to look at trading the 21-year-old former 4th overall pick. Puljujarvi is currently playing for Karpat in the Finnish Liiga, but has until December 1 to opt-out of his contract and head back to the NHL. While he seems to be a bit of a head case, imagine pairing him up with fellow Fin Valtteri Filppula and what Fil could teach him. He’s simply another low risk, high reward type guy that has handcuffed the Oilers in value because of his trade demand. Yzerman could get him for cheap, and honestly of all possible moves this could be my favorite if it happens. The only issue is he is not under an NHL contract so it’d break from the “expiring RFA” mold, but I also don’t think he’d cost a lot at all to sign him. Say 2-year/$1.5M AAV?
3. Julius Honka
Honka is almost in an identical position as Puljujarvi. His rights are owned by Dallas, but he is holding out and currently playing for JYP in the Liiga. He also has an opt-out to play in the NHL by December 1, but it certainly won’t be for the Stars as both have seemingly agreed it’s time to move on. All articles I have read indicate you could Honka for a mid-round pick at most, so why not take a flyer on him? The blue line is as bad as can be so may as well add a 23-year old with a decent upside. Oh, and yes he was a 1st rounder in 2014.
4. Josh Ho-Sang
Ho-Sang is, get this, almost in the exact same situation as Puljujarvi and Honka too, only he is under contract for the Islanders and is an expiring RFA after this year. With the Islanders success, it’s tough to see them bringing back Ho-Sang any time soon. He seems to be a bit more of a head case than Puljujarvi, but, get this, he’s a 2014 1st rounder too. Lou is in a “wait and see” mode with Ho-Sang, who currently isn’t playing anywhere as he holds out. Again, another guy who could benefit from a new home, and if he doesn’t work out, there’s no harm in just letting him walk after the year. He’s handcuffed the Islanders, like Puljujarvi and Honka have with their respective teams, and his trade value diminishes by the day. May as well just keep loading up on 2014 1st rounders, someone will stick, right?
5. Go After a Lightning RFA (Joseph, Sergachev, Cirelli, Cernak)
According to CapFriendly, the Lightning are only projected to have $8M in cap room this offseason. Obviously they could make some moves, but it’s very unlikely they will be able to re-sign all four of those pending RFAs. Mikael Sergachev alone could get a contract that may take up close to all of their available cap space, meaning you could possibly get another low risk, high reward type young player from Tampa. If you were to go after Mathieu Joseph, Eric Cernak or Anthony Cirelli, it will cost you more than an Alec Regula or Jacob De La Rose, but it also won’t cost you a 1st or any of your top prospects. Plus, Stevie knows that organization just a bit so it may not hurt to kick the tires on any of them and continue to load up on expiring RFA’s so the battle for next years lineup gets even thicker.
6. Explore the Devils
The Devils could have one of the more interesting situations of any team in the NHL coming up. Taylor Hall is a UFA after the year, along with captain Andy Greene, Sami Vatanen and Wayne Simmonds. On top of that, Mackenzie Blackwood, Jesper Bratt and Micro Mueller lead the RFA charge, and young studs Jack Hughes, Pavel Zacha and Nikita Gusev will possibly need large contracts down the road. All that with only $23M in cap space this offseason could put the Devils in tough spot. Yes, they have plenty of time on guys for the future, but I wonder what it would take to possibly get a Jesper Bratt, Micro Mueller or, dare I say, Mackenzie Blackwood (again, more expiring RFA’s), especially if they really want to re-sign Taylor Hall. Sure doesn’t hurt to ask.
7. Deal some of the UFA’s
It’s fairly certain that Mike Green and Trevor Daley will not be returning next year. With the way things are going, Jimmy Howard could be gone too. You may as well see what you could get for Darren Helm too, whose contract expires after next year. And hey, could this be the year Mike Babcock gives up that 1st round pick for Glendening? Point being, all five players will not be a part of the Red Wings the next time they are competitive, so it may not hurt to get something for them now. San Jose was supposed to be a Cup contender this year, but goaltending as failed them and they’re a bottom feeder early on. With this possibly being Joe Thornton’s final year, you think they would overpay for an expiring goalie for one last run? Point being, take a listen on all of them and let’s hope we can get something for them, even if it is just loading up on more mid-round picks.
8. Address Goaltending
I mentioned both Mackenzie Blackwood and Jimmy Howard already. I really am starting to think this is Howard’s last year with the Red Wings and, unlike last year, you could have some possible suitors at the deadline for a starting goalie such as San Jose (the big one), Winnipeg, Colorado, Philadelphia and Florida, just to name a few. All have had subpar goaltending so far this year, and even though some have large contracts committed already at the position, an expiring Howie deal at $4M could be valuable at the deadline. If they do trade Howie, that would leave Bernier to be our starter which, after this year of total tankage, just can’t happen in order to be competitive. Therefore, we would need a bridge goalie to get us to Larsson, Pertruzzelli or whoever Stevie may draft next. A team like Columbus has 2 RFA’s at goalie, Joonas Korpisalo and Matiss Kivlenieks. As mentioned, you could try for Mackenzie Blackwood with New Jersey’s financial future in question. Vegas has both Oscar Dansk and Malcolm Subban behind MFA, who’s signed through 2023. You don’t need the next great thing in net, but I do feel it’s time to move on to someone younger who can give you good minutes for the next couple years.
No, I’m not an insider who has heard of the Red Wings connected to any of these moves, more so just moves I think are realistic and wouldn’t mind see happening. It’s going to be a long year here in Detroit so may as well start brainstorming what the roster could look like down the road. Let me know your thoughts! Who you like. Who you don’t. Why I’m dumb for suggesting “x” player or team. Don’t shoot the messenger, but feel free to discuss in the comments.