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Regner: Red Wings should add a top-six forward via trade

Given the talk surrounding the Edmonton Oilers’ and Carolina Hurricanes’ asking prices for Ales Hemsky and Tuomo Ruutu, respectively, I get more than a little jittery when the pair are linked to a Red Wings team that Ken Holland readily admitted is exploring its options in terms of bolstering its lineup via a smart trade or two (and Holland told the Globe and mail’s Alan Maki that he’s actually looking for a defenseman), but Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner’s got stars in his eyes while suggesting that one more top-six forward would allow the Wings to withstand an injury or two up front (see: Johan Franzen, 2010, Johan Franzen, 2011):

Ruutu turns 29 in February, and at 6 feet, 205 pounds, is an abrasive forward who is versatile and enjoys mixing it up. He’s a good skater and can play all three forward positions.  Consistency and injuries have always been issues for him, but Ruutu could provide the Wings with a solid player who can score, set up his teammates and bring a bit of an attitude. In 511 career games with the Blackhawks and Hurricanes, Ruutu has 126 goals and 165 assists.

Hemsky, who turns 29 in August, is 6 feet, 185 pounds and a bit of an enigma. Blessed with a skill level off the charts, he’s never had that breakthrough season that would propel him into the league’s elite level. Injuries have always hampered him. Since February 2011, Hemsky has missed 35 games with various ailments. But he’s shown enough in 526 career games with the struggling Oilers—118 goals, 296 assists—to peak the Wings’ interest. Hemsky has 247 career penalty minutes to 498 for Ruutu.

Chicago and Ottawa have been rumored to be the frontrunners for Ruutu, and Montreal is said to have the inside track on Hemsky. But as long as Ruutu and Hemsky are available, don’t count the Red Wings out of the mix. If the bidding gets too high, the wings might back off because they’re looking to tweak their roster, not remake it. As much as I like Ruutu, Hemsky’s skill set could blossom with the Wings. He should be their target.

Regner discusses the possibility of adding Zach Parise (from what we’re hearing now, the Devils won’t trade him at the deadline) or Ryan Suter (ditto), but he duly note that if the Wings want to target either player, they’re more likely to make their move either at the Entry Draft or on July 1st:

What happens after the season is another story.  Suter is Detroit’s No. 1 objective in the free-agent market. They want him that much.  If Detroit can sign Suter and Parise during the offseason, GM Ken Holland will do cartwheels down Woodward Avenue.

Still Holland’s focus is the present and adding a forward who will enhance the Wings’ chances of winning another Stanley Cup. Scotty Bowman always used to say that you can never have enough defenseman. In the case of this year’s Red Wings, even Scotty would agree it’s the forward corps that needs shoring up.

Again, I’m keeping my expectations low in terms of what the Wings can realistically add without having to surrender top prospects (see: the crazy Tomas Jurco and a 1st-round pick to Edmonton for Andy Sutton and Hemsky rumor) or the top-two-round picks that the Wings are loath to relinquish, but there are so many teams that are on the buyer-versus-seller fence right now that I’m not sure that we’re going to see a repeat of last year’s early moves, and what happens over the next month will likely determine whether the Wings can pull off a Brad Stuart-style steal or whether they’re going to have to settle for another Cory Cross.

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Comments

SK77's avatar

Bollocks to Hemsky.

Posted by SK77 on 02/01/12 at 05:15 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

I think Regner is off-base and Tick Tock is right. This Wings team has tremendous depth at forward. On defense? Not so much.

TPH could be gone after this season. While Brad Stuart is most certainly gone as a UFA after this season.

While a top six forward might make the difference this year, a top four d-man is vital to having success beyond this year.

Only way Kenny grabs a forward is if Stuey signs an extension before the trade deadlne. I just don’t see that happening.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 02/01/12 at 05:16 PM ET

SYF's avatar

I started to write something about this stupid Hemsky-to-Detroit rumor but I realized this is Tick Tock we’re talking about.  He knows this business far, far better than LeBrun and Regner so I’ll just let Tick Tock make his moves and go from there.

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 02/01/12 at 05:23 PM ET

Avatar

I think this year I have had my fill of the trade rumors. (but keep reporting them George)  I guess the free cap space has people salivating. I just want to get past the 27th.

Posted by JP on 02/01/12 at 05:39 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Bowman also said you can never have enough Centers (strength down the middle), so if Wings get a top 6 forward who moves down from the Top 6 we have today? Or do we have to give up one of them? Hope not!

I am going to have to change my Avatar as Hudler is playing great or as Flames Announcers called him, HU-Dat! LOL

Great Stuff George

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 02/01/12 at 05:43 PM ET

SYF's avatar

I am going to have to change my Avatar as Hudler is playing great or as Flames Announcers called him, HU-Dat! LOL

Great Stuff George

Posted by WingedRider on 02/01/12 at 02:43 PM ET

You do not mess with things like that.  Well, you shouldn’t actually.

Ah hell, I wore my Yzerman whites which ain’t been washed since the Wings went on their seven-game tear.  I didn’t wash it over the Gary.ASSG and they still won.

[sniffs then barfs]

Posted by SYF from Zata's Epic Viking Beard on 02/01/12 at 05:51 PM ET

Avatar

they’re more likely to make their move either at the Entry Draft or on July 1st

It’s nice to think this, but if Suter or Parise go up on the trading block then chances are they won’t be available at the draft.

This Wings team has tremendous depth at forward. On defense?

That’s the issue though.  They’re 75% depth and short in top-six talent.

Only way Kenny grabs a forward is if Stuey signs an extension before the trade deadlne.

I don’t see what one thing has to do with the other.  Stuart’s pretty much said he’s not going to re-sign before the season is over because he has to discuss it with his family, and he’s not going anywhere at the deadline, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re interested in a top-six forward.

As for the Hemsky rumour, I don’t really get it.  He’s injury-prone, doesn’t shoot enough and he’s not that tough.  If he were better defensively he’d be Filppula.

Posted by Garth on 02/01/12 at 06:14 PM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

I think if Kenny does grad a top-six forward, it’ll be someone that none of these “experts” have on any of their radars.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 02/01/12 at 06:28 PM ET

The Meal's avatar

Rutuu has a better goals-per-game than Hemsky?!!  Wow, I’d never have guessed that.

Fun to see a Ruutu and Andy Sutton both mentioned in trade scenarios.  It’s the wrong Ruutu, but both Sutton and Jarkko Ruutu played at Michigan Tech.

Posted by The Meal on 02/02/12 at 12:34 AM ET

The Meal's avatar

(Oh, and to Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner’s editor, I believe one has one’s interest “piqued” not peaked.)

Posted by The Meal on 02/02/12 at 12:35 AM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.