Red Wings: Jakub Vrana and Oskar Sundqvist adapting well elsewhere
We are checking in on a few former Detroit Red Wings a few weeks after the NHL trade deadline.
General manager Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings elected to become sellers ahead of the 2023 NHL trade deadline. Many will point toward the awful showing in back-to-back games to the Ottawa Senators while being outscored 12-3 days before the deadline to when Yzerman decided to become a seller. In reality, following the deadline, Yzerman mentioned that he was committed to becoming a seller well before those two terrible games in Ottawa.
Ahead of the deadline, the Red Wings sent forward Tyler Bertuzzi to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a top-10 protected first-round pick in 2024, plus a fourth-round selection in 2025. Detroit also retained 50% of Bertuzzi’s remaining salary for the 2022-23 season. Bertuzzi is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Yzerman secured a hefty return considering Bertuzzi is a rental for the first-place Bruins. Bertuzzi, 28, has totaled four goals and 17 points this season over 35 games. Since joining the Bruins, Bertuzzi has recorded three assists over six games, averaging 16:34 minutes per game. Over the six games, Bertuzzi has maintained a plus-1 rating and has managed 11 shots on goal.
Yzerman also sent defenseman Filip Hronek and a fourth-round pick in 2023 to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a top-12 protected first-round selection in 2023 via the New York Islanders. The Islanders pick is lottery protected this season and will move to an unprotected 2024 first-round selection if New York suddenly struggles down the stretch. Yzerman also received Vancouver’s second-round pick in 2023 in the deal. Hronek has not appeared in a game with the Canucks following the trade. The 25-year-old defender was injured in his final game with the Red Wings against Ottawa before the deal was made. Hronek becomes a restricted free agent following next season. He’s recorded nine goals and 38 points over 60 games while skating to a plus-8 rating.
Jakub Vrana has caught fire following the trade from the Detroit Red Wings.
The Red Wings also sent Jakub Vrana to the St. Louis Blues for a seventh-round pick in 2025, plus an AHL player in Dylan McLaughlin. Yzerman was eager to wash his hands of Vrana and elected to retain 50% of his $5.25 million cap hit for the remainder of this season and next. This decision still remains somewhat of a mystery. Yzerman did not want to elaborate on the decision to trade Vrana but cited that it was time to cut ties and move on.
A week or so ago, Yzerman joined Stoney and Jansen with Heather on Audacy’s 97.1 The Ticket to discuss the current state of the Detroit Red Wings and had this to say regarding Vrana. The entire interview can be heard here.
Yzerman said ‘it’s my responsibility to do what is best for the Detroit Red Wings, and ultimately like it or not, I decided that this was the best decision for the Red Wings, and this wasn’t working, and I don’t have faith that it is going to work, it’s time to move on, it didn’t work, accept that, and move on.”
Since joining the Blues, Vrana has caught fire. The 27-year-old has notched four goals and five points with his new club over six games. Overall, Vrana has totaled five goals and seven points through 11 NHL games this season, averaging just over 13 and a half minutes per night.
And finally, the Detroit Red Wings sent pending free agent Oskar Sundqvist to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2023. Since the trade, Sundqvist has recorded two goals and two assists over six games. Overall, Sundqvist has totaled nine goals and 25 points through 58 games.
The Detroit Red Wings elected to replace Sundqvist with winger Alex Chiasson, 32, who has played exceptionally well since being signed and elevated from the Grand Rapids Griffins. The veteran forward has totaled three goals and five points in seven games for the Red Wings this season and may become someone Yzerman elects to re-sign this summer to a cheap one-year deal for a fourth-line role next season. Chiasson had scored goals in three consecutive games before Saturday’s loss to Colorado.