The Detroit Red Wings announced on Sunday night the acquisition of defenseman Alex Biega from the Vancouver Canucks in return for left wing David Pope.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) October 7, 2019
Biega cleared waivers last week and had been assigned to the AHL’s Utica Comets while Pope had been with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
I’ll admit, the move confuses me.
Biega cleared waivers last week, which means that, if the Red Wings wanted him in Detroit, they could have had him for free.
Sometimes a team will skip out on making a claim only to later trade for the player because they don’t have enough contract spots. In this case, though, the Red Wings were at 47 out of a possible 50 contracts, so they had slots available.
Perhaps they didn’t make a claim because they wanted him in Grand Rapids, so they needed him to clear waivers first. That would make some sense, except the Red Wings and the Griffins both already have eight defensemen on their respective rosters.
It could also be that something changed with the Red Wings’ lineup between when Biega was on waivers and this trade. Trevor Daley did not play the third period tonight against the Stars. If Daley’s injury is expected to be significant and if Jonathan Ericsson is not expected to return soon, the trade could have been made to give the Red Wings a seventh defenseman with experience.
I find that option hard to believe, though, because the Wings could have just called up Dylan McIlrath, Brian Lashoff, or Joe Hicketts, as they’ve done in the past.
The way this makes the most sense to me is if Daley and Ericsson will not be available long-term and the organization wants to keep McIlrath, Lashoff, and Hicketts all in Grand Rapids to mentor guys like Moritz Seider and Gustav Lindstrom. I find it hard to believe that one of the AHL veterans couldn’t be spared to fill in with Detroit but I could see if that was the organization’s thinking.
I imagine we’ll learn more about the thinking behind the deal on Monday.