The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/01/14 at 01:57 PM ET
Yesterday, I discussed possible Red Wings trades, a.k.a. my belief that the team won't be active between now and Wednesday's 3 PM EST trade deadline; today, both Winging it in Motown and MLive's Ansar Khan (who also covered Purse-gate) weighed in on possible deadline deals, and now the Free Press's Helene St. James has posited an overview of the Wings' options.
St. James believes that the Red Wings will look to add a defenseman if at all possible, though she duly debunks Kesler speculation...
As Wednesday’s 3 p.m. buzzer nears, there’s been a great deal of focus on Livonia’s Ryan Kesler. He’d be a terrific second-line center behind Pavel Datsyuk — but at what price? Kesler, 29, is Vancouver’s third-best player. For Detroit to get him, it’d likely cost Justin Abdelkader, a combination of Gustav Nyquist/Tomas Tatar/Tomas Jurco, and either a first-round pick or a high-end prospect like Ryan Sproul, Calle Jarnkrok or Teemu Pulkkinen. Weigh that price against Kesler, whose history includes the 2011 Selke Trophy but also significant time missed because of various injuries.
And regarding potential defensive moves...
There aren’t a whole lot of defensemen in play — Buffalo’s Christian Ehrhoff, but he’s got a billion years left on his contract (through 2021, at $4 million). Edmonton’s Nick Schultz brings nothing offensively, but he’d been a good depth guy. The Islanders’ Andrew MacDonald is another top-four option.
For planning purposes, the Wings are operating with a budget of $1.8 million in salary cap space headed into the trade deadline; technically there’s more, but the assumption is Stephen Weiss will soon be removed from long-term injured reserve. Henrik Zetterberg was put on LTIR Tuesday, a few days after undergoing back surgery that will sideline him at least through mid-April.
Losing Zetterberg is tough, but the Wings are still well-stocked up front. There’s Datsyuk. There’s Johan Franzen, who based on the last two games appears headed for one of his hot streaks. Veteran Daniel Alfredsson is always dependable. Add in Nyquist, Tatar, Jurco, Abdelkader and Darren Helm, and the Wings are better off than many competitors. If anything, they should look to see if they can move any of their unused veteran forwards, like Patrick Eaves, Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo, for any draft pick offered.
Or, as Khan put it:
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said this week that he’s had conversations with several clubs and will continue to explore possibilities. He said he’s not interested in paying a high price (top prospect, first-round pick) for a rental (impending unrestricted free agent), but is open to making a “hockey trade,” a deal for a player who can help the team beyond this season.
Kesler would qualify. But the price would be steep. The Canucks are battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, so chances are they would want a good, young player who could help them right away in addition to a top prospect and high pick.
It’s safe to assume clubs in trade talks with the Red Wings inquire about skilled young forwards Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar and defenseman Danny DeKeyser.
It’s unlikely the Red Wings would part with any of them.
Nyquist, 24, and Tatar, 23, are having breakout seasons. They are important players for a team whose top scorers are well into their 30s. And DeKeyser, 23, figures to be a cornerstone on Detroit’s blue line for many years.
Despite Zetterberg’s injury, the Red Wings are deep up front. Johan Franzen (three goals, two assists) has looked real good in two games since returning from a concussion. Youngsters Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco continue to impress with each game. And anything they get from Stephen Weiss, due back next week after sports hernia surgery, will be a bonus.
Unless an Edler, Ehrhoff, or perhaps more realistically, a Tom Gilbert or Marek Zidlicky become available, I just don't see the Wings making any sort of move until this summer. Whoever's available now will still be available at the Entry Draft, the cap compliance buy-out market will always complicate the situation, and while this summer's crop of unrestricted free agents-to-be isn't overwhelmingly strong, the Wings' modus operandi in the cap era--regarding any sort of meaningful addition, be it by trade or by signing--has involved making a move in the summer 9 times out of 10.
With the cap going up from $64.3 million to the $71-million range, with Stephen Weiss's future with the Wings in limbo, with Joakim Andersson, Jakub Kindl and Brian Lashoff seemingly oblivious to the concept that they're losing their jobs, with Kyle Quincey, Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Cleary, Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo and Cory Emmerton likely to exit and with the Wings needing to both decide whether to bring back Jonas Gustavsson, to find out whether Daniel Alfredsson wants to return, and having to weigh Landon Ferraro, Adam Almquist and Mitch Callahan's no-longer-waiver-exempt situations...
I just don't see the Wings doing anything less than allowing the balance of the regular season and any playoff run (both the Wings' run and the Griffins' run) to let the players determine who stays, who goes, who's promoted and who's expendable some two summers after the team swung and missed on Ryan Suter.
After this season, it will finally be time to reassess the "youth movement" and to try to meaningfully give Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson some assistance in terms of minute-munching and point production on defense via a top-pair addition, all while preparing to slowly fold some of the Almquists, Ouellets, Sprouls, Marchenkos, Backmans, Jensens, Nedomlels, etc. into the roster if/when they develop over the next three to five years.
That time isn't now, at least not unless the Wings can manage to add an Ehrhoff or Edler-type defenseman without surrendering a 1st-round pick or a top prospect like Anthony Mantha, Calle Jarnkrok, Teemu Pulkkinen or any of the on-the-roster bright spots.
I could very easily see the Wings going so far as to moving Andersson, Kindl or Brendan Smith, a solid prospect and multiple mid-round picks going forward for, say, a Tyler Myers, but I can't imagine the Sabres wanting to surrender that kind of player for anything less than a coup.
And Ken Holland may need to be physically restrained from signing free agents who aren't NCAA-graduating or European pro prospects, but he, the coaches, the amateur scouting/player development and pro scouts know what they're doing in terms of managing future assets (at least most of the time).
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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.