On the Red Wings as Trade Deadline Sellers

The NHL’s trade deadline is less than a week away and – in the middle of their “bye week” – the team sits last in the Atlantic Division, only two points up on the Carolina Hurricanes (who have four games in hand) for last in the Eastern Conference, and twenty-sixth overall in the thirty-team league.

For the first time in a quarter century, the Red Wings will (in all likelihood) not make the playoffs.  As such, they’ll be sellers at the trade deadline.

Detroit general manager Ken Holland insists that the team will not be torn down in a total rebuild.  He expects only to unload “rentals” – players who will be free agents this summer anyway.  With that in mind, there are three players who we can probably expect to see moved.

Thomas Vanek
Vanek has been one of the Red Wings’ top forwards this season, leading the team in goals with 15 in just 47 games played.  He was signed last summer to a cap-friendly one-year deal as a reclamation project and is just the kind of player a team looking to make a playoff push would want to add.  The only hiccup is that he reportedly loves Detroit and Holland may choose to simply extend his contract rather than trade him and risk being unable to bring him back this summer.

Brendan Smith
At 28, Smith is no longer a prospect, he’s a known quantity.  He could be a solid addition to a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins (who, as I write this, traded for Ron Hainsey), looking to shore up their defense.  That said, Holland has stated that he’ll talk to Smith’s camp about a contract extension, so he could stay put.  The Red Wings have five defensemen already under contract for next season, plus restricted free agents Nick Jensen and Xavier Ouellet.  If Jensen can do Smith’s job at half the price (or less), it makes sense to get what they can for him.

Steve Ott
Ott signed with his “hometown” Red Wings last summer and was excited to come to Detroit.  He clearly wants to be here.  I’ve been against his signing from the start.  There are a lot of GMs who love the kind of player he is, even if I don’t.  He could be a cheap veteran addition for a team looking for a little extra grit.


In addition to the above three, there are a few others in unique positions that could see them dealt.

Drew Miller
Exiled to the Grand Rapids Griffins in the face of a roster crunch in Detroit, Miller has made it clear that he’d like to be traded and get back into the NHL.  His position is similar to Ott’s, as a veteran grinder who would come cheap, except for the fact that he already cleared waivers so any team that wanted him will have already passed him up.  The Wings would likely have to take a player back in any deal for Miller.

Tomas Jurco
Jurco has been stuck in the press box for much of the season and doesn’t seem to have a future in Detroit.  He reportedly requested a trade earlier in the year and will be a restricted free agent this summer.  That said, if the Wings were to sell on Vanek and Ott, it would seemingly open up a roster spot in Detroit for Jurco to get more playing time.

Tomas Tatar
Tatar has been one of the Wings’ top forwards this season but has been plagued at times by accusations of not living up to his potential.  He’s a restricted free agent this summer, likely due a raise from the $2.75 million he makes now to something close to the $4.75 million of Gustav Nyquist.  The Chicago Blackhawks called about Tatar and Nyquist earlier this season, so if the Wings wanted to avoid paying Tatar, they could ship him out now.


Finally, there’s a small group of players that might have value but probably won’t be dealt for various reasons, primarily because – as stated above – the Wings say they’re not tearing the team down.

Gustav Nyquist
Signed for two more seasons after this one and currently suspended, the Blackhawks did ask about him, so the possibility of moving Nyquist is there.  Even more than Tatar, Nyquist can’t shake the “underperformer” label and the Wings may want to dump his salary to facilitate re-signing Tatar (or anyone else).

Mike Green
Green has one year left on his contract for $6 million, so any team looking to acquire him wouldn’t be going for a rental.  If available, though, he’d be one of the top defensemen on the market and could probably bring in a decent haul for the Red Wings’ reload.  It’d also clear a lot of money from the Wings’ cap.  I don’t expect him to be dealt but I think it’s an intriguing possibility.  Green does have a no-trade clause.

Jimmy Howard
I don’t expect Howard to be traded at the deadline, lets get that out of the way.  But – especially if he’s not claimed by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft this summer – the Wings are going to have quite the logjam in goal to deal with, plus a lot of money dedicated to goalies.  Clearing that up sooner rather than later would be to Holland’s benefit, so he should be trying to move Howard now.  Of course, Howard is currently hurt and has no timetable for return, so pulling off this move would be near-miraculous.


My prediction? Vanek and Smith or Ott get traded.  Maybe Miller, especially if Ott stays.

Nyquist Suspended Six Games

Detroit forward Gustav Nyquist has been suspended six games for high-sticking Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon in Sunday’s Red Wings – Wild matchup.

I’m surprised it wasn’t more but the last similar instance was also six games so at least DoPS is consistent this time around.

Red Wings Unveil “Mr. I” Patch

Just hours after I posted my proposal for a Mike Ilitch memorial patch, the Red Wings unveiled what the team will actually wear.

Surprising no one, it’s another “text-in-a-box” patch.

Since the 1998 season and the “Believe” patch, the Red Wings have unveiled six special event patches.  The 75th anniversary design was worn only for a few games.  The “Farewell to the Joe” patch was abandoned.  All of the rest (the BM/RS/SL patch, jersey retirement patches for Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom, and memorial patches for Gordie Howe and Mike Ilitch) have been some form of text inside a box.

I think it’s lazy and not a fitting tribute.

Thoughts on a Mike Ilitch Jersey Patch

The Red Wings are expected to reveal an on-jersey tribute to owner Mike Ilitch, who died last Friday at age 87, tonight as they host the St. Louis Blues.

I’ve commented before on the Red Wings having a tendency to make their memorial patches “text in a box” and I expect we’ll see something along those lines tonight.  With that in mind, I’ve put together something I’d like to see the Wings do.

First off, if I were the team, I’d scrap the Gordie Howe patch (which I never liked anyway) and make a combined patch for Howe and Ilitch.  I’d put this new patch on the shoulder and restore the “Farewell to the Joe” patch to the opposite shoulder for symmetry.  Since the arena patch is probably gone for good, keeping the memorial patch on the chest is also feasible.

My idea for a Gordie Howe / Mike Ilitch memorial patch.

The patch would feature the signatures of the two men, one over the other, separated by a black band with the Winged Wheel over it.

I thought about using the blue from the “Believe” patch the Red Wings wore in honor of Vladimir Konstantinov and Sergei Mnatsakonov and the “BM – RS – SL” patch memorializing Brad McCrimmon, Ruslan Salei, and Stefan Liv, but ultimately went with black because I thought the signatures should be black and didn’t want to introduce an additional color.

I have no idea what the team will actually do and I doubt it will be this.  I suppose we’ll see in the coming hours.

Red Wings Owner Mike Ilitch Dies at 87

Sad news from Bill Shea of Crain’s Detroit Business as Detroit Red Wings and Tigers owner Mike Ilitch is dead at the age of 87.

Ilitch’s dedication to his teams and his relentless pursuit of championships for the Red Wings and Tigers is legendary.

Our condolences to the Ilitch family.

Ericsson Done for Season

Red Wings’ defenseman Jonathan Ericsson is seemingly done for the season, having suffered a fractured wrist in last night’s game against the Washington Capitals.

Technically the Red Wings could make the playoffs and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals and Ericsson would have recovered in time to rejoin the team, but I don’t see that happening.

The positive in this is that it clears a roster spot and some cap space for the rest of the season.  Jimmy Howard‘s return will no longer be an issue and guys like Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet should get more playing time.

Ericsson’s play has been criticized for years but he’s been somewhat better this year.  Losing him will hurt the Wings’ defense but I’ve written off the season already so I don’t see that as a big deal.  Additionally, his contract makes him virtually untradeable so it’s not like he’d have been dealt at the trade deadline for future assets.

Postgame: Red Wings – Capitals

The good news – and I use “good” very loosely – is that the Red Wings gave up enough goals to Washington in the third period on Thursday that the game didn’t look close.  Early in the period they were tied at three but badly outshot and badly outplayed.

One of my concerns as the Wings go down the stretch is that they’ll play just well enough – or even worse, have results that look just good enough – for the front office to think big changes aren’t necessary.  Outcomes like tonight help highlight how outclassed the Wings are against the NHL’s elite.

Holding Alexander Ovechkin to no shots doesn’t mean a lot when you lose 6-3.

Of course, it doesn’t help that they lost Jonathan Ericsson to injury early and that Petr Mrazek didn’t play well.  But that’s going to happen every now and then.

Unrelated unpopular opinion…  The Capitals’ throwback jerseys look horrible.  I loved them in the ’80s.  They’re dated as hell now.  Their standard set is pretty horrible, too, though.

Morning After: Red Wings vs. Blue Jackets

We know that refs aren’t perfect.  Calls get missed and bad calls are made.  However, I have a serious issue with what the officials from last night’s Red Wings/Blue Jackets matchup told Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg after the game, when a slash from Brandon Dubinsky broke Zetterberg’s stick and directly led to Seth Jones’ game-winning goal in overtime.

They saw it. They just deemed it to not be a penalty.

For reference, here’s the play:

And, for comparison’s sake, here’s a stick-breaking slash that was called a penalty in the Montreal/Colorado game last night:

I’ve ranted before about refs being treated as infallible. It’s simply not true and we’ve got video proof of that from last night.

Either the slash in the Detroit/Columbus game was correctly called – no penalty because doing that is not a penalty, or the slash in the Canadiens/Avalanche game was correctly called – breaking the stick with a slash is a penalty, or the slash on Zetterberg was simply missed – in which case the ref was covering his ass by saying what happened wasn’t a penalty.

My guess is that the last one occurred. And that happens. I’d feel a lot better, though, if the refs owned up to it.

Red Wings Lose Marchenko to Leafs via Waivers

The Detroit Red Wings lost defenseman Alexey Marchenko to the Toronto Maple Leafs via waivers on Saturday.

Marchenko was waived to clear a roster spot for Brendan Smith, who is slated to return from injury tonight as the Red Wings visit the Nashville Predators.

Marchenko made the Red Wings’ roster out of camp last season, then went on to play for his native Russia at the World Championships last spring and the World Cup of Hockey.  Despite that, he lost his roster spot to Nick Jensen this season and fell behind Ryan Sproul on the team’s depth chart.

I’m not surprised that Marchenko was claimed, given how many teams have been clamoring for right-handed shooting defensemen.  I can’t help but think that this is yet another case of asset mis-management by the Red Wings’ brass.

Red Wings Place Marchenko on Waivers

The Detroit Red Wings have placed defenseman Alexey Marchenko on waivers.

The move comes with defenseman Brendan Smith scheduled to return from injury tomorrow against the Nashville Predators, requiring that the Red Wings open up a roster spot.

It would appear that Marchenko, who made the Red Wings’ roster out of camp last season and played for his native Russia at both the 2016 World Championships and the World Cup of Hockey, has been passed on the depth chart by Xavier Ouellet, Nick Jensen, and Ryan Sproul.

I had expected Sproul to be the one to get the axe, given criticism of his play.  I suppose the Red Wings brass sees more upside in him than Marchenko.

With the number of teams looking for right handed shots right now, I find it hard to believe Marchenko won’t get claimed.  That said, I’m still surprised Teemu Pulkkinen is in the AHL right now so what do I know?  If he does make it through, he’ll head to the Grand Rapids Griffins and re-join their already-packed blueline.