The Detroit Red Wings approach the impending trade deadline with a sense of routine. It’s the norm to be sellers when this time of year creeps around, as the days of contendership in the Motor City are long gone.
There is always the possibility that things return to the glory days, but those dreams are as elusive as they are in Edmonton.
Detroit is tied for last in the Atlantic Division with the Senators, though they’ve played one more game than Ottawa. They’re also tied with New Jersey for the Eastern Conference basement and are on a two-game losing streak. They’re an ugly minus-28 in the goal differential, which honestly could be a lot worse.
But this is a team in transition, we’re told. Believe in the rebuild or remodeling or process of whatever general manager Ken Holland thinks he’s doing. His performance at the post has a lot to do with why Red Wings fans are still waiting for Steve Yzerman to ride in on his white horse.
Right now, the issues are prevalent.
This is a franchise with prospects in the pool, but some players are just waiting in the wings (ha ha) too long. Not everyone has followed the path of Dylan Larkin to the NHL and that’s becoming excruciatingly clear. The path of Evgeny Svechnikov, who in fairness may have gotten a better look this year had he not been injured in preseason play, has differed greatly from Larkin’s.
If Detroit doesn’t start giving more rookies a chance, it will be business as usual as long as this reconstruction project carries on.
And that leads us to the plan to sell the living daylights out of this franchise once more. Holland has stated that almost everyone is up for grabs, which opens the doors wide for trade calls leading up to the deadline.
Goalie Jimmy Howard is one of the names batted around. He’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season but Detroit might re-sign him, so the asking price is probably high. Probably too high considering the market for goalies right now.
Gustav Nyquist has to be one of the most attractive pieces in the Detroit battery. A contract extension could be in the works, but money is a thing. They’ve got to work out contracts for other critical pieces set to become RFAs next summer, like Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha.
Holland loves his no-trade clauses, so about a dozen Red Wings have them. In the case of Thomas Vanek, almost sure to be moved as usual, it won’t matter much. But Darren Helm and Mike Green have them, too, which could put a wrinkle in the plan.
In any event, it really is more of the same for Detroit. They’ve got a lot to sell and have been open about it, so expect them to push out some units at the deadline. And expect more of the same for the foreseeable future until they figure out what kind of team they are.