Trade Deadline Thoughts: Offense vs. Defense


I’ve already written my thoughts on the Red Wings’ trade for David Legwand so I won’t go into that right now, but Bill Roose has a piece about today’s transaction that piqued my interest. Specifically, the opening paragraph:

Late Tuesday night, general manager Ken Holland scrapped his original plans to enhance the Red Wings’ defense as the league’s Wednesday trade deadline approached.

I wrote earlier (and was a little more outspoken about it throughout the day via Twitter) that I thought defense should be Detroit’s first priority. Specifically, I was concerned that the current Red Wings lineup has only three real top-four defenseman, with the fourth spot taken by whoever happens to pair up with the odd-man-out of Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson and Danny DeKeyser. By paycheck that really should be Kyle Quincey but, while he’s been better of late, he hasn’t really seized that role.

It’s great to see that the Wings’ brass thought a defensive upgrade was the top priority, too. It’s also understandable that, upon learning of Darren Helm’s injury, the team would decide to add some depth at center. Those were clearly the holes in the lineup heading into the NHL’s trade deadline.

What’s shocking to me is that the team considered it a “one or the other” situation, and that they chose to fill the gap at center over the one on defense; that fixing both issues was not an option.

By adding Legwand, the team has partially addressed their needs at center. Legwand, at this point in his career a second- or third-line center, will center the top line until Pavel Datsyuk returns from injury. Rookie Riley Sheahan will take the second line while rookie Joakim Andersson has the third and rookie (sensing a theme here?) Luke Glendening has the fourth line. It’s a band-aid but it prevents the team from having to shift Johan Franzen or Justin Abdelkader to center or use Cory Emmerton.

But they still have a big hole on defense. In adding the band-aid up front, they neglected the problem they had in the first place. Is it worth fixing the forward issue if you don’t resolve the problem on defense?

For me, the mid-term repercussions are the damning ones. If you accept that the team was going to have to – and is able to – make the playoffs with either a weakness at center or on defense, then you’ve also got to assume that the Red Wings will be playing in the postseason with a healthier lineup. Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg will be back, as will Helm and Stephen Weiss. Suddenly Legwand is your third- or fourth-line center… And you’re still missing a number four defenseman because no amount of return from injury is going to make one of those appear on this lineup.

Clark founded the site that would become DetroitHockey.Net in September of 1996. He continues to write for the site and executes the site's design and development, as well as that of DH.N's sibling site,

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