For GM Ken Holland 8,757,955 is the most important number for the Red Wings heading into the upcoming season because according to capgeek.com this is the amount of Mr. Ilitch’s money he has at his disposal to spend on potential trade deadline targets.
The unfortunate reality for Wings fans is that if Detroit plans on having any shot at making a long playoff run then a significant deadline transaction will be an absolute necessity. And, having a lot of financial wiggle room come deadline day is not something Detroit is accustomed to.
In fact, the amount of cap space the Red Wings have right now is almost double the amount of what it was one year ago. A miserable off-season where they were passed over by every big name free agent is mostly to thank for this additional revenue.
Currently, the Wings sit 15th in overall league salary which is somewhat of an anomaly for a club that typically spends near the cap ceiling. Yet, a little extra spending money is a nice security blanket for a team that desperately needs it.
Truth be told if Detroit doesn’t use some of this money to make a quality deadline addition to their depleted backend then they should consider themselves lucky if they make the playoffs. To say the trade deadline could make or break the Red Wings’ season would not be a stretch.
Now here’s the problem. Although Detroit has the cash, trade deadline deals of this magnitude are difficult to pull off and often times unpredictable.
First of all, to attain a high quality NHL d-man the Wings would have to ship some worthwhile assets the other direction. And, if Detroit is making this acquisition in hopes of going deep in the playoffs they might be reluctant to part with current big name talent such as a Johan Franzen or Valtteri Filppula. If that’s the case, then the deal would have to include a combination of young prospects and draft picks which might not be enough to acquire the kind of player the Wings need to put them over the top.
Secondly, big time deadline deals do not guarantee playoff success. We just need to look back at the major deadline deals the Wings made in the late 90’s. During the 1998-1999 deadline Detroit acquired Chris Chelios, Wendel Clark, Ulf Samuelsson, and Bill Ranford and were subsequently sent packing in the second round of the playoffs.
On the other hand, during their 2007-2008 season the Wings made what I consider to be their best deadline trade to date when they brought in Brad Stuart for a second round pick. At the time this was considered to be a minor trade, but Stuart made an immediate impact and the Wings went on to win the Stanley Cup. Nevertheless, the 2008 version of the Red Wings were a lot deeper than the 2012 addition and a deal for a player like Stuart will not be enough to salvage this season.
Come next deadline the Wings will be in a position where they will have to weigh their options and decide if they want to take a gamble on a huge move that might give them a shot at one last Stanley Cup run with this current group. Financially speaking Detroit has the flexibility where this deadline dream could become reality.
Although the likelihood of this type of scenario playing out seems rather doubtful, if we’ve learned one thing in the world of sports it’s that you never know what players may become available. So, let’s hope that if Holland does take a swing at a blockbuster trade, it’s the same sort of swing Alex Anthopoulos took with the Toronto Blue Jays a few weeks ago.