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Trade Bait: What are the Most Valuable Pieces on the Red Wings Roster?

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NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a hard season for all of us Red Wings fans with the team sputtering to a 14-39-4 record (32 points), currently sitting in the basement of the entire league. What’s more remarkable is considering how poorly they have played to this point, there’s a chance—knock on wood—that this Wings team may not finish as the worst in franchise history. To date, that title belongs to the 1985-86 roster that finished the season a very wretched 17-57-6 (40 points).

On a team with little to cheer about this year, some of you have probably read this title and thought to yourselves “what could any of these players have to offer a playoff contender?” While that may be a valid point, you might be surprised with the return that Steve Yzerman may get for some of his veteran players. Let’s dive into the most valuable trade assets as the Feb. 24 deadline approaches.

Jonathan Bernier

Tyler Bertuzzi may have represented the Wings on All-Star weekend, but Bernier has been this team’s best player by far. Since Dec. 12 he is 7-5-0 with a 1.97 GAA and 940 SV%. And, after stifling the division-leading Bruins on Sunday, stopping 39 of 40 shots, he now has 12 of the Wings’ 14 wins this season.

He still has one year left on his current deal with a $3M AAV, but the Wings are in a position to eat some of that salary should they pull the trigger on a deadline deal. A reunion with the Maple Leafs seemed like the most likely of scenarios before Kyle Dubas went out and obtained Jack Campbell.

But, there are a few teams on the bubble or currently sitting in a playoff spot that could shore up their goaltending situations. Both the Jets and Panthers are battling for playoff spots and have significant holes behind their starting netminders—the latter has received underwhelming production from Sergei Bobrovsky all year. Thinking back to the trade Ken Holland manufactured with the Flyers for Petr Mrazek two seasons ago, a pair of draft picks may be all that’s required for Bernier’s services.

Best guess? Florida Panthers.

Andreas Athanasiou

This is a tough one because Athanasiou has been riddled with injuries all season and unable to find any consistency in his game. The two things going for him, from a trade perspective, are his youth (25) and the fact that he tallied 30 goals just a season ago.

He boasts tremendous speed that would be valued by any team in this new NHL and sooner or later, Yzerman will have to make a decision on which path he chooses with the upcoming RFA’s on this team — a list that includes Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha.

The popular opinion might be to keep AA next season and see if he can regain his scoring form of a year ago. However, even though his value is low at this point in time, he could be the type of forward that another general manager could fit the bill to acquire.

Yzerman spoke with the team’s radio play-by-play announcer, Ken Kal, and here’s what he had to say about his approach to this year’s trade deadline:

My plan isn’t to be passive. I’m looking for ways to build for the future and trying to acquire draft picks or prospects or young players that can come into the organization sooner or later.

To me, there is not a better player on the roster—without mortgaging the real future in Dylan Larkin—to fetch you any of the three possibilities that Yzerman talked about above. After seeing the Penguins buy high on Jason Zucker—they sent Alex Galchenyuk, a conditional 2021 first-rounder and prospect Calen Addison to the Wild—it leaves reason for optimism that AA could fetch a larger return.

Best guess? Edmonton Oilers.

Robby Fabbri

Before you start yelling at the screen about this, take a deep breath and hear me out. If you want to see Mike Green traded by the deadline, put your hand in the air (trust me when I say I’ve got both hands up). But, it will be extremely difficult to move a veteran defenseman with a $5.375M cap hit the rest of the way, regardless of how much salary Yzerman would retain.

That is why I look at Fabbri as the next logical option among the Wings’ assets. He was acquired for practically nothing — Jacob de la Rose was acquired off waivers last year and subsequently dealt for Fabbri earlier this season — which means cashing in on his current trade value makes all the more sense.

Fabbri was a former first-round pick of the Blues and has battled injuries throughout the early stages of his career. Since coming to Detroit he has been revitalized, tallying 27 points in 40 games. The reason he’s on this list is because Yzerman has some decisions to make on this team’s future up front. Michael Rasmussen, Evgeny Svechnikov and Joe Veleno will likely compete for an NHL spot next year and this team is going nowhere fast.

With plenty more growing pains in store before this team gets on the right path, trading Fabbri in his prime could bring with it some much needed developmental pieces to better this team’s future.

Best guess? Philadelphia Flyers.