Trade Deadline Hindsight: The Buyers' Market Ruled
Monday's trade deadline came and went with the whimper of a Columbus Blue Jackets foray into the playoffs. It wasn't exactly baffling that a lot of teams didn't make big splashy moves, considering year after year we've seen that parity has become a marketing ploy for the NHL rather than a reality when it comes to cup contenders and also that draft picks always tend to become more valuable in years where cap uncertainty rules.
For the most part, Wings fans were happy not to see assets spent on a rental for a team a rental probably doesn't put over the top, but would have liked to have seen either a move to lock up a pending RFA (which is pretty rare at deadline prices) or to see them have sold a couple expiring contracts for what value they could get on the rental market. The thought there being that guys like Darren Helm and Kyle Quincey could be expended without costing the team too much in this year's playoff push.
Fortunately, we're in the time when even team big-wigs are starting to leak a bit more info about what happened on Monday, and I think that sheds an awful lot of light on the bigger criticisms of the Wings' standing pat.
"Hamhuis wanted to go to one team, Vrbata gave us a list. Both of those players earned that right. There were no offers for Radim" - Benning— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) March 4, 2016
In here, we've got Quincey taken care of and the Helm consideration opened. Benning apparently tried to play hardball with Dan Hamhuis and out-chickened himself into holding the asset while Calgary got value for Kris Russell. Both of these players are more well-considered than Quincey, who basically fell off the map since being traded to Detroit in 2012. If you remember back to summer of 2014, Quincey made it to the evening of free agency's opening day before returning to Detroit on a two-year deal. Generally, highly-sought free agents don't make it to the evening of that day before getting a deal.
It's still possible that Holland could have gotten a sniff on Quincey if he had actively tried to sell harder, but I have my doubts.
On Helm, there's the fact that the Canucks apparently didn't even get an offer on Vrbata as a start; then you have Mikkel Boedker being almost the biggest forward splash of the day when Colorado snapped him up. Finally, you've got the after-action out of Boston on why Loui Eriksson stayed up. Cam Neely told CBS Boston that the Bruins didn't receive anywhere close to what they were asking, which wasn't a crazy price:
Neely confirmed that the Bruins were never offered a first-round pick for Loui Eriksson, or two second-round picks. Neely said the surprisingly small market for Eriksson was "baffling to everyone in our managementgroup."
Neely also said that the Bruins' asking price was not both a top-six forward and first-round pick, but either-or. "It wasn't that combination," Neely said.
So what we have here is two forwards in Vrbata and Eriksson who couldn't get moved and Mikkel Boedker who could. Overall that's three players with more value than Helm and the only one that moved is essentially the better, younger version of Detroit's speedster.
Unfortunately, we may never know whether Ken Holland even kicked any tires on trying to get value for two expiring assets (two assets we're afraid will get contracts from the Wings prior to July). The Detroit digger corps doesn't seem terribly interested in asking questions that the front office wouldn't be terribly forthcoming in answering. However, I think a great portion of what's come out since the deadline indicates that even if Holland had tried a measured sell-off of assets the team could do without, the value on such returns would have been unacceptably low. Better players than Detroit's couldn't move in the seller-heavy market.