This may come as a surprise to many, but the Red Wings will most likely be sellers during this season’s trade deadline. With just days until the NHL’s trade deadline, let’s take a look at how selling in February has gone the last 5 seasons.
As beloved names like Andreas Athanasiou, Darren Helm, and Trevor Daley, along with many other extremely valuable players that every single team wants desperately are thrown into the trade blender, let’s catch up with some old friends and see how some former Wings have fared since their departure as well as what Detroit got in return.
F - #14 Gustav Nyquist
The Deal: Nyquist to San Jose in exchange for a 2019 2nd round pick and a 2020 conditional 3rd round pick. The Sharks did not reach the Stanley Cup Final and Nyquist did not re-sign in San Jose, so the pick did not upgrade to a 2nd.
Gus Nyquist is one of those players who nobody wanted to see go, but everyone knew the deal had to happen. As a central piece of the offense in the transitional period between being the best team in the league and the worst team in the league, Nyquist’s career in Detroit will ultimately be a paragraph in the story of the rebuild. After being drafted in the 4th round in 2008 and working his way up from Grand Rapids, Nyquist became a top-6 mainstay in Detroit. His career is highlighted by scoring 28 goals in the shortened 2013-14 season, his overtime shift against Ottawa, winning the Kentucky Derby, and this wicked no-look backhand from the 2016 Stadium Series.
Nyquist finished last season with San Jose, scoring 11 points in 19 regular season games and was a part of their semifinal run. He signed with Columbus in the off-season on a 4-year deal with a 5.5M AAV and has 37 points in 61 games this season. I’ve been to one game this season and I picked Columbus’ visit in December specifically to see Nyquist in Detroit again. There was a heartwarming tribute and he flashed the classic Gus smile to the crowd. He scored an empty netter in the closing seconds - it was beautiful.
The Return: Detroit drafted Swedish defenseman Albert Johansson with the 2019 2nd round pick from the deal at 60th overall. He has yet to be signed by the team and is currently playing in the SHL. The 3rd round pick will be in the upcoming 2020 draft this June.
D - #3 Nick Jensen
The Deal: Jensen and a 2019 5th round pick to Washington in exchange for defenseman Madison Bowey and a 2020 2nd round pick.
Nick Jensen was drafted in the 5th round by Detroit in 2009. Playing half of a season after being called up in 2016, Jensen made the roster out of camp and played the full 2017-18 season in the Red Wings. He played 60 games in his final season with Detroit before being shipped off to Washington. Jensen’s career will be a footnote in deep Wings’ history. Dedicated fans will remember him as a very smooth skater who made some questionable decisions in the defensive zone but could move the puck. It looked like the organization was trying to squeeze a top-2 defenseman out of a player who is ultimately a middle-pairing guy who can carry the puck well in transition. He’s a player that performs better when given more time, as he scored 15 points with Detroit when he was averaging 20+ minutes, but consistency was always an issue. He is now in his first full season with Washington and is now finding his stride as a possession focused d-man.
The Return: Madison Bowey has had a brief but rocky career in Detroit, playing just over 60 games in parts of two seasons. This season, he has struggled to make his mark on the defense and was waived in early January but called up soon after. Jeff Blashill cited that he didn’t make enough growth. He has been a healthy scratch often throughout the year but is now finding his way back into the lineup. The 2nd round pick will be in this year’s draft.
F - #21 Tomas Tatar
The Deal: Tatar to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a 2018 1st round pick, 2019 2nd round pick, and a 2021 3rd round pick.
Much like Nyquist, Tatar was a fan favorite who was simply more valuable in a trade than playing on a bottom-feeder like Detroit. In a buzzer-beating deal, then GM Ken Holland got quite the return for the Slovakian winger. Known for his smooth hands, Tatar dazzled Detroit fans for six seasons after earning a call-up in 2013. As one of the team’s best goal scorers from his debut to his departure, he scored 115 goals and 222 points in just over 400 games. In his brief career with Vegas, Tatar struggled but was with the team for their Stanley Cup run. He was traded to Montreal before the next season began where he has flourished as their top line left winger. He is on a near point-per-game pace with the Canadiens, at 54 in 62 games played. It seems like Tatar left yesterday, but he already has 114 points since being traded. Fans will have plenty of great Tatar memories, he just seemed to be a part of the franchise during a period where his talents could be better used elsewhere.
The Return: Detroit fans will forever link Tatar to 2018 1st round pick Joe Veleno. Veleno was one of the highest rated centers in his draft but fell all the way to Detroit at the back end of the first round. A steal of a trade turned into a steal of a draft pick, and Veleno will hopefully fill the gaps left in our hearts by everyone’s favorite Slovakian. Veleno has 15 points in 39 games with Grand Rapids. The 2019 2nd rounder was used on current Boston University forward Robert Mastrosimone. The 3rd round pick is in 2021.
G - #34 Petr Mrazek
The Deal: Mrazek to Philadelphia for a 2018 conditional 4th round pick (met, changed to a 3rd) and a 2019 conditional 3rd round pick (not met, PHI retained).
Oh Petr. Anyone who watched Mrazek night after night will tell you he is without a doubt one of the most naturally talented goalies in the NHL. His quick glove and reflexes have dropped the jaws of Wings fans many a time. Mrazek’s troubles in Detroit always seemed to be with consistency and decision making. His record was never too horrible and his end-of-season save percentage never dropped below .900. Appearing in over 150 games for Detroit, Mrazek ended his time in the Motor City with a 72-58-20, 2.60 goal-against average, 0.912 save percentage and 13 shutouts.
Mrazek finished the season with the Flyers, playing 17 games. In the off-season, he signed a 2 year deal with Carolina with a 3.125M AAV. He has had a winning record with the Hurricanes in both seasons.
The Return: Detroit drafted 6’2 defenseman Seth Barton with the 2018 3rd round pick from Philadelphia. Barton is a sophomore at U-Mass Lowell from Kelowna, BC and has 11 points in 25 games.
F -#26 Thomas Vanek
The Deal: Vanek to Florida for defenseman Dylan McIlrath and a 2017 conditional 3rd round pick (condition not met, Detroit retained Florida’s 3rd).
Thomas Vanek’s career with the Red Wings will be a very peculiar footnote in the history of the franchise. Vanek was signed by Detroit before the 2016-17 season along with Frans Nielsen and became an instant fan-favorite after scoring two goals in the team’s season opener against Tampa Bay. Vanek had scoring pedigree, netting 40 goals in a season twice in his career. He made a name for himself parked in front of the crease, tipping shots and burying loose pucks for half a season in the Winged Wheel. After scoring 15 goals and 38 points in 48 games, Vanek was dealt to Florida as the deadline expired. He was a journeyman after being dealt, signing with Vancouver in the off-season where he was a deadline casualty for the second straight season to Columbus. After scoring 15 points in 19 games with the Blue Jackets, Vanek re-signed with Detroit the following summer. He finished last season in Detroit with 36 points in a year plagued by knee and finger injuries and has not played since, but has yet to officially retire. Vanek often stated how much he liked Detroit and it’s fair to say we really liked him too.
The Return: Dylan McIlrath has spent parts of four seasons with the organization, most notably as the AHL’s least fightable defenseman. He has had brief stints in Detroit but has yet to crack the roster. The 27 year old former 1st round pick has eight assists in 35 games with Grand Rapids this season. Detroit drafted Finish defensemam Kasper Kotkansalo with the 2017 3rd round pick. Kotkansalo has played three seasons with Boston University, playing this season alongside fellow Detroit prospect Robert Mastrosimone.
F - #29 Steve Ott
The Deal: Ott to Montreal for a 2018 6th round pick.
Steve Ott was signed by the Red Wings in the summer before the 2016-17 season as a part of the lethal forward trio of himself, Thomas Vanek, and Frans Nielsen. His contributions to Detroit include probably teaching Dylan Larkin a lot about face-offs and scoring more goals than Riley Sheahan did for the team in half the games. Ott retired at the end of the season after being dealt to Montreal and now is an assistant coach with St. Louis. Ott was an underrated player. He retired with 288 points and 1555 penalty minutes.
The Return: Detroit traded the 2018 6th round pick to Columbus for their 2019 5th round pick. They drafted forward Filip Cederqvist who was never signed and is now in the Sabres organization.
D - #2 Brendan Smith
The Deal: Brendan Smith to the New York Rangers for a 2017 3rd round pick and 2018 second round pick.
Brendan Smith was drafted by Detroit #27 overall in the 2007 draft. He worked his way up through Grand Rapids to play 291 games over six seasons with the Red Wings. The 2nd and 3rd round picks Ken Holland squeezed out of the Rangers was quite the return for the injury-prone Smith, especially when Thomas Vanek was considered the team’s biggest asset and returned much less just two days later. Smith was dealt in the middle of a UFA season and struggled to find his footing with the Rangers the next year, being sent down to the AHL. The now 31 year old has played 53 games with the Rangers this season.
The Return: Detroit drafted forward Zach Gallant with the 2017 3rd round pick. He never signed with the team and is now signed with San Jose. With the 2018 2nd round pick, Detroit drafted Jonatan Berggren, a Swedish forward in the SHL. Berggren is one of Detroit’s most promising forward prospects.
F- #26 Tomas Jurco
The Deal: Jurco to Chicago for a 2017 3rd round pick.
Thomas Jurco was drafted by Detroit in the 2nd round in the 2011 draft. Jurco is an incredibly talented player who just seems to not mesh well with the NHL game. His struggles in Detroit, where he played 159 games over four seasons, stemmed from his desire to be puck-handler rather than puck-dumper. He scored 15 goals and had 39 points with the Red Wings, and has struggled to crack the NHL at all since being traded. Jurco started the season in the Edmonton but was waived and has since been with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. He underwent hip surgery in December and has not played since.
The Return: Detroit drafted goaltender Keith Petruzzelli with the 2017 3rd round pick. Petruzzelli is currently the starting netminder at Quinnipiac University and is a part of Detroit’s promising crop of goaltender prospects.
F - #4 Jakub Kindl
The Deal: Jakub Kindl to Florida for a 2017 6th round pick.
Jakub Kindl was drafted #19 overall by Detroit in 2005. Kindl never manage to be a consistent roster player. He scored 68 points in 273 games in Detroit but never played more than 66 games in parts of six seasons in Detroit. He split his time with Detroit and Grand Rapids for 11 seasons before being dealt to Florida. He played 58 games over the next two seasons with Florida before leaving for the Czech League. He now plays for the Cologne Sharks in Germany’s top flight.
The Return: Detroit drafted defenseman Reilly Webb with the 2017 6th round pick. He never signed with the club and is currently unsigned.