Sonny’s Side Note: What the Detroit Red Wings did at the trade deadline
The last season at Joe Louis Arena has been a rollercoaster ride for the Detroit Red Wings, with a majority of it being on the downturn. The Wings’ historic 25 year playoff streak could end this season as the team is the dead last in both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings could’ve put all their marbles into making a serious run for a playoff spot, but risk the fact that they could lose some of their players this offseason to free agency for nothing and still not make the playoffs. The other direction, which they had seemed to take, was entering a rebuilding stage and stocking up on the draft picks while letting their young talent get some more experience.
General manager Ken Holland made a total of four trades, in which he acquired five draft picks and one player. Many of the players the Wings shipped off weren’t a big part of the Wings’ future core and likely would find themselves on new teams next season after this year’s offseason.
The first trade came with the disgruntled right winger Tomas Jurco. Jurco had been frustrated by the Wings’ season and requested a trade to Holland. Although he’s only 24 years old, the Wings didn’t see Jurco fitting in with their future plans. He was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 24 and marked the beginning of the rejuvenation process for the Wings. The Red Wings received a 2017 third round draft pick, even though they could’ve pushed for a sixth round pick too or just a second round pick straight up. However, getting something rather than nothing was the better option.
The next trade that occurred was the one the Wings profited the most from. Defenseman Brendan Smith and the Red Wings had engaged in light contract extension talks this season—three years and three and half million dollars each season. However, when the New York Rangers offered a 2018 second round draft pick and a 2017 third round draft pick, it was an offer the Wings couldn’t pass up. Smith is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, and even though he is a talented defenseman, he didn’t live up to the full potential of being a top defenseman for the Wings. Playing on a Rangers team, Smith could easily achieve that status that the Wings thought he would embrace.
The final two trades came on deadline day when the Wings shipped center Steve Ott to the Montreal Canadiens and left winger Thomas Vanek to the Florida Panthers. In return for Ott, the Wings received compensation in the form of a 2018 sixth round draft pick. And for Vanek, the Wings received a 2017 third round draft pick and defenseman Dylan McIlrath.
The Steve Ott trade was a steal because Ott is also an unrestricted free agent and signed with the Red Wings for only 800,000 dollars this season. If the Wings really wanted to, they could pick up Ott again for next season on the same contract and still have netted a free draft pick in the process.
Now, for the most controversial trade that Holland made. Vanek is a scorer and he had a lot of trade value, especially to a contending team, like the Panthers, that was desperate for some more scorers. Many fans, including me, expected a late first round draft pick or an early second round draft pick, but those expectations were shot down when we got the tenth overall pick in the 2010 draft and the third round pick. The case with the third round pick is, if the Panthers make the playoffs, the pick becomes the Arizona Coyotes’ third rounder instead of Florida’s. If it did become Arizona’s, that pick would be in the upper third round because of their record and basically be considered a late second round pick. Yes, the market interest was relatively low for a winger on deadline day, but I would’ve liked to see Holland try to have grabbed a future second round pick straight up or an additional draft pick from the Panthers.
Although it may be disheartening that the Red Wings could potentially close the chapter on the Joe Louis Arena without a final playoff game being played there, it was a good run while it started. However, all good things have to come to an end. The Wings can start a new playoff streak while bringing life into the new Little Caesars Arena and starting off in a new arena on a good note. The Wings have stockpiled 11 draft picks in this year’s draft, with six of them being in the first three rounds, and another nine draft picks in next year’s draft. If the Wings address the problems they have on their roster with these draft picks, and if the picks live up to the potential they will be tagged with, the Red Wings could create a new dynasty in the NHL.