The Detroit Red Wings should be aggressive before Friday's trade deadline

Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings will have a few difficult decisions to make ahead of Friday's trade deadline.
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General manager Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings find themselves in a unique position just days away from Friday's (March 8) NHL trade deadline. During Yzerman's entire tenure with the Red Wings, he's been looking to sell this time of year. I am not confident that Detroit will suddenly become aggressive buyers, but a calculated addition such as a gritty defenseman or a physical depth forward wouldn't be the worst idea. Yzerman also may elect not to do anything at all, understanding that the team isn't quite ready to compete for a championship, and giving up future assets for a rental doesn't seem logical. But maybe the Red Wings will decide to go the old addition-by-subtraction route.

The Detroit Red Wings learned a lot over the weekend following their 4-0 loss at home to the mighty Florida Panthers. Paul Maurice's club is the definition of a playoff team. They compete at a high level and are incredibly physical and deep up front. Plus, like all Maurice teams, the Panthers play sound defense. The Panthers rolled into Detroit and, quite frankly, beat them up. It reminded many of Detroit's two-game road trip to Ottawa a week or so ahead of the trade deadline last year, but the two situations are not comparable.

The Senators imposed their will on the Red Wings, but they weren't really a good team; this Panther team enjoyed a trip to the Stanley Cup finals last season and many have pegged them, as the favorite to represent the Eastern Conference again this year. If not for an Alex DeBrincat shot that rang off the pipe, a Patrick Kane breakaway attempt that Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside, and a disallowed goal after Michael Rasmussen knocked the two-time Vezina winner down moments before J.T. Compher scored, the Red Wings may have been able to ride some of that momentum into the second half of the game when Florida seemingly took over.

The Detroit Red Wings will have an interesting decision to make ahead of the trade deadline.

I've previously mentioned that I'd like to see the Red Wings add a defenseman who plays with a bit of an edge. That is still on my wishlist as a fan. Still, it would need to be someone with a term remaining or willing to negotiate a contract extension that Yzerman feels is fair and in line with his overall vision of the organization moving forward.

On the other hand, addition by subtraction doesn't seem like the worst idea, either. The Detroit Red Wings had been rumored to be shopping defenseman Justin Holl, who has fallen out of favor recently. Holl, 32, has totaled five assists in 35 games this season while maintaining a plus-7 rating, playing just over 15 minutes per night when he finds himself in the lineup. Moving Holl would be a wise cap relief move at this point for the Red Wings. This past summer, Holl signed a three-year deal that averages $3.4 million annually. More than likely, Detroit will need to retain 50% of that salary in a trade, but licking your wounds, admitting something isn't working, and getting half of the money off the books isn't the worst idea. That's something to monitor before Friday's 3 PM Est. deadline.

The more significant move Yzerman could make would be trading veteran defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. Gostisbehere, 30, signed a one-year deal worth $4.125 million this past summer and has excelled as a specialty player quarterbacking Detroit's power play. Gostisbehere has totaled nine goals and 39 points this season over 60 games; 22 of his 39 points have come with Detroit on the power play.

Detroit is Gostisbehere's fourth stop over his ten-year career to date, and he's always had the ability to create offense, but his defensive deficiencies are bad enough to give you an ulcer at times. He's recorded 350 points over 598 career games and is a minus-74.

"He competes well on the d-side," Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. "He finds himself in trouble at times. He's had some tough matchups — we've played him in our top pair at times, especially when [Jake Walman] has been out. "He helps our transition; he moves the puck. He's been a really valuable player for us. We talk about the depth in scoring we're getting from the forwards, but obviously, we're getting some offense from our D, too."

Gostisbehere, a pending free agent, will likely find himself dawning yet another jersey next season if he isn't moved ahead of the deadline because Detroit's top defensive prospect, Simon Edvinsson, is ready to be a regular at the NHL level. Edvinsson is also out of options beginning next season, which means he will no longer be waiver-exempt. Yzerman should look to be creative and move Gostisbehere, preferably to the Western Conference for some future assets, a third, or perhaps a second-round draft selection, depending on where the market is on Friday. The move would pave the way for Edvinsson, who has some offense to his game, to come up and fill the void for the remainder of the regular season and postseason.