The burning question in Detroit is what will Ken Holland do on trade deadline day? Your guess is as good as mine, considering he’s been a hard guy to read over the last few years.
Holland made a minor splash before the weekend, sending defenseman Nick Jensen packing along with a 2020 fifth-round pick to the Washington Capitals in exchange for defenseman Madison Bowey and a 2020 second-round pick. Not too shabby of a return and Jensen would later sign a four-year, $10-million contract extension with the Caps.
He then traded forward Gustav Nyquist to the Sharks for a 2nd round pick and conditional 3rd round pick.
Fast forward to today’s deadline and there are many that follow the Wings left with uncertainty about Holland’s next move. On the heels of a 5-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday, we saw Gustav Nyquist score his final goal in a Wings uniform. Will Jimmy Howard’s tenure in Detroit come to an end as he gets shipped to a playoff contender?
What to Expect from the Wings
When you look up and down the roster there are not many assets that jump off the page. With Nyquist traded last night, that might be the end of Detroit’s deadline transactions.
Personally, I didn’t want to see him go because throughout the year he’s built a nice rapport with Dylan Larkin, and at 29, I think he still has plenty left in the tank moving forward.
He’s on pace to break his 2014-15 career points mark (54) this season—49 points in 62 games so far—and will provide San Jose with immediate offensive help in their top six and on the power play.
When it comes to the veteran Howard in net, the market looks thinner than I think people realize. Most teams in playoff contention have their goaltending tandem pretty set — although we’ve seen in the past that GM’s load up in the home stretch.
Looking around the league, the Sharks would also be a prime candidate for Howard to land. San Jose has surrendered the 11th-most goals against this season (194) all while giving up the second-fewest shots against (28.4). That’s not a good recipe for success come playoff time and neither Martin Jones or Aaron Dell currently post a save percentage above .900.
One more team that I find intriguing would be the Minnesota Wild. Are they buyers or sellers, sitting just one point out of that Western Conference wildcard spot? Devan Dubnyk has already appeared in 51 games this season and while his numbers are respectable — 23-21-5, 2.63 GAA and .910 SV% — he’s struggled in the month of February going 3-5-0 with a 2.89 GAA and .898 SV%. Howard would definitely provide them depth and perhaps push Dubnyk in the lead role as they try to sneak in the playoffs.
Another squad that could be looking for a goaltending change is the Flames. Is GM Brad Treliving comfortable with the tandem of Mike Smith and David Rittich? Probably not. Howard could step in and I would have to think Smith might be the odd man out in that situation.
There have been murmurs that Holland wants to re-sign Howard in the summer because the pipeline is a bit thin for the Wings and there is no immediate prospect ready to make the leap to the NHL level. In the midst of a rebuild, the hope is that Holland would get something for Howard and then re-visit this scenario in July.
Howard headlines the trade targets for the Wings, but it’s important to keep your eye on Luke Glendening. He can skate, kill penalties and win faceoffs. All three traits are important to GMs come playoff time. What would he garner? Maybe a middle round pick, but if Holland can twist someone’s arm, the return could be a second rounder.
What is the Rest of the League Thinking?
The Ottawa Senators have made the most noise so far leading up to the deadline, sending both Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel to the Columbus Blue Jackets. GM Pierre Dorion will be in the spotlight all day as all eyes will be on Mark Stone and his landing spot.
Lots of interest in Mark Stone. A league executive believes there are likely eight contenders that will be serious about acquiring him. #Sens— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) February 24, 2019
Don’t put much stock into Stone re-signing with the Sens, considering he’s now been a healthy scratch three games in a row. Clearly, he’s being shopped and Dorion is playing cautious with his health approaching the deadline.
One more name being targeted by GM’s is Blue Jackets’ star Artemi Panarin, but unless the offer blows away the front office, I can’t imagine he’s leaving. They’ve just acquired Duchene and Dzingel and seem to be loading up for a playoff run. It would be foolish for the Jackets to part ways with Panarin at this point with all the fire power now up front.
Now, we want to hear from you. Have an opinion on what the Wings should do before the deadline? Share your thoughts in the comments below.