Red Wings: A Very Early Look at the Trade Deadline

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 16: Nick Leddy #2 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Vancouver Canucks at Little Caesars Arena on October 16, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - OCTOBER 16: Nick Leddy #2 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Vancouver Canucks at Little Caesars Arena on October 16, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Now that we are in the New Year and the Red Wings are just nine games from the halfway point of the season, the NHL trade deadline is not far down the road.  This year, the trade deadline is March 21 at 3:00 PM ET.

Will the Detroit Red Wings be buyers or sellers?  A lot will depend on what happens prior to the deadline but, general manager Steve Yzerman has always been ready to either deal an impending UFA or sign him to an extension.

For example, Robby Fabbri was an impending UFA.  At 25, Fabbri fit the timeframe for an extension and Yzerman quickly pounced on the opportunity to extend him to a 3-year deal.

According to Capfriendly.com, Detroit has just over $19.2M in cap space.  Does Yzerman use that to sign any of the remaining UFA’s or, does he go out and use some of that space to try and make a playoff run?

Current Impending UFA’s

The Red Wings currently have eight UFA’s on the roster.  Out of these eight players, at least one and possibly two players will be re-signed (Sam Gagner/Marc Staal). Three players have little value at the trade deadline (Carter Rowney/Troy Stecher/Danny DeKeyser).  Three players have trade value and Steve Yzerman will listen to offers for each of them.

Here are the three current Detroit UFA’s that have the most value.

Nick Leddy has been a steady LD for the Red Wings this year.  Currently, Leddy is the only Red Wings player still in Covid-19 protocol.  In 31 games, Leddy has picked up eight assists with a -14 rating.  To start the season, Leddy helped Moritz Seider become comfortable to play in the NHL.  When Filip Hronek struggled, Leddy was paired with him and helped Hronek get his game back on track.  There is no doubt that Leddy will be a hot commodity heading into the trade deadline.  With several defense prospects ready to push for NHL jobs, Leddy will likely not be re-signed and will be moved at the deadline in March.  General manager Steve Yzerman will be looking for a second round draft pick to replace the pick used to acquire Leddy from the New York Islanders in July.

Vladislav Namestnikov has had a very good season so far with the Red Wings.  Namestnikov is currently 5th in scoring with nine goals and 16 points in 31 games.  The versatile forward is 29 and doesn’t really meet the criteria of re-signing before the deadline.  Look for Yzerman to deal Namestnikov for a 3rd round pick.  If Yzerman doesn’t feel that prospect Jonatan Berggren is ready for NHL duty, Namestnikov could be signed to an UFA deal in the summer.

Thomas Greiss will likely stay with the Red Wings through the deadline.  Things can change quickly as goaltenders succumb to injuries.  If a contending team has a goaltender sidelined for an extended period of time, look for Greiss to be on the move.  Alex Nedeljkovic is clearly the #1 goalie and, Yzerman can sign a backup for him during the offseason.  Dating back to junior, Nedeljkovic has a history of wanting to play every night.  As a member of the Niagara Ice Dogs, Nedeljkovic routinely told his head coach that he was ready to play three games in three nights.  By trading Greiss, the Red Wings will bring up Calvin Pickard to back up Nedeljkovic.  This will allow Kaden Fulcher and Victor Brattstrom to battle it out for the #1 goaltending position in Grand Rapids.

Underperforming Trade Targets

Filip Zadina is one underperforming player who could be on the move prior to the deadline.  Zadina was drafted as a goal scorer and so far he hasn’t performed at that level since his arrival to professional hockey.  This year, Zadina has four goals in 30 games and needs a change of scenery.  Several rumours over the last few weeks have Zadina heading to Boston for disgruntled Bruins LW Jake DeBrusk.  DeBrusk has publicly asked for a trade and so far nothing has come to fruition.  This year, DeBrusk has five goals in 25 games.  DeBrusk scored 27 goals in 2019 and he is only 25 years of age.  A one-for-one swap of Zadina for DeBrusk is a trade that Red Wings fans should keep an eye on.

Michael Rasmussen is an intriguing trade option.  The hulking center has never lived up to his offensive potential at the NHL level.  This year, Rasmussen has been insconsistent  as he has only scored three goals and 10 points in 29 games.  The arrival of Joe Veleno as the 3rd line center behind Dylan Larkin and Pius Suter could make a Rasmussen deal imminent.  If Rasmussen is traded, it would likely be for either a high draft pick or prospects.

Final Thoughts

The condensed schedule and the continuous threat of canceled games due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic make in-season trades more difficult than in previous years.  This is the first year since 2016 where the Red Wings have a chance at a playoff spot.  Important decisions will need to be made regarding the trade deadline.  Only Steve Yzerman and the management team know which direction they would like to go.  The next two months will go a long way in determining the fate of the players mentioned above.  As one year comes to an end, 2022 is destined to become an important one in the future of the Detroit Red Wings.

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