The Detroit Red Wings are in a bit of a predicament when it comes to the rapidly approaching trade deadline. On one hand, the team has its hands full in a very competitive Western Conference playoff race, and its 21-year streak of making the postseason is facing a real test.
On the other hand, the beginning of a youth movement is taking place at the same time (with injuries mostly to blame/thank for that), with Brian Lashoff, Tomas Tatar, Joakim Andersson, Gustav Nyquist and Petr Mrazek all seeing action and having varying degrees of success. I feel pretty comfortable speaking for Wings fans everywhere when I say that no one wants the future to be mortgaged to sneak in as a seven or eight seed just to keep the streak alive.
So while GM Ken Holland has shown the willingness to get help at the deadline in the past, he’s in a trickier spot this year. The roster could use some tinkering, and you’d expect he’d be looking to add and not just subtract. he also has cap room to play with, but the asking price for some of the names being thrown around, like Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester and Phoenix’s Keith Yandle, is likely to be too high.
Rumor also has it that Holland isn’t looking for guys who will be free agents after the season, lowering the chances of obtaining the likes of Mike Ribeiro (much as I’d like to have him) or Ryan Whitney. That means we need to get even more creative to try to pick out potential trade targets.
With thinking cap on and CapGeek.com at the ready, here are four guys who won’t break the bank and shouldn’t cost the Red Wings all that much but could still represent an upgrade. Note that three of them have no trade clauses, but we’ll assume for the sake of argument they’d waive them to come play at The Joe:
- Eric Brewer, D, Tampa Bay Lightning
It’s not like Holland doesn’t have Stevie Y’s number, right? The Lightning have faded despite a fast start to 2013 and Steven Stamkos‘ endless supply of heroics, and with Vincent Lecavalier out indefinitely, my guess is that Tampa will be selling at the deadline.
Brewer would bring some size and the (very) occasional offensive contribution to the blue line. He’s 33, but his cap hit is under $4 million for each of the next two seasons, which seems reasonable.
- Stephane Robidas, D, Dallas Stars
At 36, he might be too long in the tooth to consider. Yet he’s only under contract for one more season at $3.3 million, or about what Jonathan Ericsson makes.
Robidas would be a strictly defensive pickup, but he’s always seemed like a pain in the butt when playing the Red Wings over the years. You wouldn’t want him to be your number one guy or anything, but int he second pairing, he’d be an asset.
- Jeff Schultz, D, Washington Capitals
Now we’re aiming even lower, but no one said “help” needed to be synonymous with “high ceiling.” Schultz is only 27, but with the exception of John Erskine (currently injured), he actually counts as a greybeard in a Capitals defense corps that is getting young in a hurry.
Schultz is scheduled to make $2.75 million next season, easily fitting within the team’s salary structure, and would cost Detroit less than the two guys I’ve already discussed. He’s steady if somewhat boring, but anyone who’s experienced the up-and-down play of Jakub Kindl and Kyle Quincey this year knows that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
- Tomas Fleischmann, LW, Florida Panthers
Just so we’re not exclusively talking about d-men, I give you Fleischmann. The Panthers are an injury-riddled mess, and word is that except for Jonathan Huberdeau, Drew Shore and a couple of other young players, they’d listen to offers for anyone.
This would be a semi-homecoming since the Red Wings originally drafted Fleischmann but traded him to the Caps early on. I envision him doing the things we’d like Daniel Cleary to be doing, and would certainly bump Justin Abdelkader back down to the third line. Would he be too expensive at $4.5 million for the next two seasons. Yeah, maybe, but I don’t get paid to figure those things out.
A cheaper option on the same team would be Tomas Kopecky (who’d be on his second stint in Detroit), though he’d also bring less offense to the party.