Trade Deadline Thoughts: Robidas, Draft Picks, and Kesler

In the final twenty-four hours before the NHL’s trade deadline I want to talk on a couple points based on some of today’s news.

Red Wings’ general manager Ken Holland has said the team is looking to make a “hockey trade” and that they want a top-four defensemen. “Hockey trade” apparently means that they’re not looking for a rental, or that they’re not willing to give up big assets for one.

That likely means the price tag for a player like Christian Ehrhoff from Buffalo or Alexander Edler from Vancouver will be too high. Andrew MacDonald was dealt from the Islanders for a fifth rounder this year, a third next year, and a forward prospect. Stephane Robidas was different, however.

Robidas went from Dallas to Anaheim for “just” a fourth round pick. Hardly an exorbitant amount for a right-handed shot on the point and a veteran with a mean streak. The Stars say they’re not selling assets off and that Robidas was an exception, so maybe the seemingly-low price was driven by that. Maybe Robidas wanted a deal to Anaheim, for example.

If Detroit could have had him for a fourth-rounder, though, I have a hard time saying I wouldn’t make that move. It would be a rental, yes. Robidas is 37, he wouldn’t be the long-term acquisition that Holland seems to be looking for. But at that cost, I do the deal. Especially given that the kind of deal Holland says he wants looks less and less likely.

Trading draft picks is a crapshoot, especially a fourth-rounder. No pick is a sure-thing. The fourth round is early enough that you can still find some good talent but late enough that it’s not easy to do so. Recently, the Red Wings have used fourth round picks to select Andreas Athanasiou, Teemu Pulkkinen and Gustav Nyquist. I wouldn’t trade any of those players for Robidas.

Before that, though, the fourth round brought Mattias Ritola, Evan McGrath, Johan Berggren, and Miroslav Blatak. I’d dump all of them (or equivalent players) for a Robidas rental. It would appear that Holland wasn’t willing to take that chance. Or he didn’t get the option.


To jump back to Ehrhoff’s name for a minute… The word is that Buffalo wants prospects in return for him, not picks. I think that, should the Wings decide to make a move, that favors them. Holland won’t want to dump his first-rounder but the Wings have some prospects that could be deemed extraneous. I’m still not sure it’d be worth it but it depends on what Buffalo wants. Trade a defenseman for a defensive prospect or for the best player you can get? I’m not sure I’d move a Pulkkinen but what about Ryan Sproul?

I mean, I’d prefer Ehrhoff for Kyle Quincey, straight up, but we’ve gotta be a little realistic.


After missing out on (or never being in on, or whatever) Robidas, we’ve still got reports that the Red Wings are going after Vancouver forward Ryan Kesler. There was a specific Tweet I wanted to reference on that but I lost track of it.

I just can’t see how this deal makes sense for Detroit. Vancouver wants a top young center plus prospects and picks. Maybe I’m biased against Kesler, he grew up in Livonia hating the Red Wings and I see that as a character flaw, but I wouldn’t deal any of the Wings’ young roster players for him. Dump some vets for him, sure. A couple draft picks? Yeah. The Canucks aren’t going to do that, though. As I said, we’ve gotta be a little realistic.

That said, if Holland somehow swings a deal for him, I’ll probably be able to justify it to myself somehow. As I said awhile ago, a slightly-dirty player who hates the Red Wings? Fifteen years ago that was Chris Chelios and it worked out okay when he came to Detroit.

Free Agency Preview 2013

With the 2013 NHL Entry Draft completed, focus around the hockey world turns to the league’s free agents.

We’ve hit Canada Day, the traditional start to NHL free agency, but it will be a quiet day this year as the new CBA has pushed free agency back to July 5 to avoid this week’s holidays in the United States and Canada.

With a couple days before unrestricted free agent signings begin, I figured I’d take a quick look at where the Red Wings sit right now.

Overview
With pending restricted free agent Jakub Kindl having been signed last Friday, Detroit currently has 21 players signed for next season and roughly $8.2 million remaining in space under the salary cap. The 21 players include forward Tomas Tatar, who spent most of last season with the Grand Rapids Griffins but is expected to join the Red Wings full-time next season (and has also requested a jersey switch from #21 to #90, reportedly). Not included are any of Detroit’s seven pending free agents.

External Targets
Now-former Tampa Bay captain Vincent Lecavalier is the only external target I’d really like to see the Red Wings bring in, even at the cost of internal options, and I don’t expect him to come cheap. He’s reportedly asking for $5 million per season for five years. The $5 million I think is entirely appropriate (much more so than Valtteri Filppula requesting that amount, which I’ll get to shortly) but the term worries me. I’d hate to see the Wings lose out on him because of term, though. The contract he was just bought out of carried a $7.727 million cap hit and carried through the 2020 season.

Nathan Horton (Boston) and Viktor Stalberg (Chicago) are other names that Detroit is being associated with, as well as Stephen Weiss (Florida). Horton has injury concerns and Stalberg is entirely unproven, I have no interest in them. Weiss has local ties, having played with the Plymouth Whalers, and I like him if the Wings are unable to land Lecavalier or retain Filppula, but he has to come at a good deal. He carried a cap hit of $3.1 million on his last deal with an actual salary of $4.1 million, I’d hate to see the Wings give him more than $4 million annually.

Mike Ribeiro (Washington) and Michael Ryder (Montreal) are also options but will likely want more money and/or term than Detroit is willing to offer.

Unrestricted Free Agents
The aforementioned Filppula is Detroit’s highest-priority unrestricted free agent. There were rumors that his rights might be moved during the draft, ending his tenure with the Red Wings. As that didn’t happen, it would appear that the two sides are still working on a deal to keep Filppula with the team that drafted him. He’s reportedly asking for five years at $5 million or more, which is an obscene amount for a player who’s scored twenty goals once (though he came close with 19 in his last contract year). He’s likely to get it in the open market as there’s a weak free agent pool this summer. I think he’s gone and I’d rather give his money to Lecavalier anyway.

Both the Red Wings and forward Daniel Cleary have said they’d like to work our a deal but I just don’t see a roster spot for him. At 34 he might be convinced to come back at a discount to the team that resurrected his career following the Great Hockey Stoppage of 2004-05 but even if he signs for $1 million annually, I don’t see a spot for him unless the Wings move players out before the start of the season. They may have to do that anyway (more on that below) so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cleary brought back on the (relative) cheap but I expect him to head elsewhere.

Damien Brunner is the big wild card of the UFA bunch. He says he wants to come back and Detroit wants him back but how do you value a player who has half an NHL season under his belt? I wouldn’t mind throwing him a three or four year deal for Filppula’s old cap hit of $3 million but, like Filppula, Brunner has a chance to get paid on the shallow open market. Brunner is the only Detroit UFA I’d be disappointed if they lost out on.

Ian White is Detroit’s last unrestricted free agent and it’s already known that the team won’t offer him a contract, nor should they. He should have been dealt at the trade deadline, as he only played a grand total of two games after that date anyway.

Restricted Free Agents
With Kindl signed, Brendan Smith is Detroit’s lone defensive RFA. He’s not going anywhere, the Red Wings will match offers for any of their RFAs this season. I don’t think Smith should get much more than Kindl’s $2.4 million cap hit but he’ll probably get somewhere between that and the $3.775 that Kyle Quincey makes. Smith hasn’t proven himself so the Wings would be paying for potential if they hit the high end of that range, which always happens with players coming off their entry-level deals.

Gustav Nyquist falls into that scenario. As a projected top-six forward, he’s got a lot of potential to get paid for. He hasn’t shown (because he hasn’t had the opportunity) that he can play on a top line consistently, though, so I wouldn’t be shocked if he got a deal under $2 million, in the Justin Abdelkader range.

Joakim Andersson is in much the same position as Nyquist but seemingly has less offensive upside. On a team loaded with bottom-six forwards, that doesn’t give him as much leverage. $1.3 million?

Buyouts / Trades
Even assuming the Wings retain only their restricted free agents and don’t bring in anyone new – thus losing Filppula, Cleary, Brunner and White with no replacements – the team will still have 24 players on its roster heading into training camp. Someone won’t be coming back.

Mikael Samuelsson is a frequent mention as a possible candidate for a compliance buyout, which would get his $3 million off the books. He’s got a no-trade clause so this is the only way the Wings could be rid of him, but he may not be eligible for a buyout as he spent much of the 2013 season injured and injured players can’t be bought out. If he’s injured all year next year that’s not a problem as he can go back on long-term injury reserve but it’s tough to count on him being hurt the whole time. Samuelsson is probably the fan consensus as the most likely buyout.

Todd Bertuzzi is another buyout candidate with a NTC and a $2.075 cap hit. I have to think the team would prefer to keep him but might buy him out if Samuelsson can’t be dumped.

Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo is almost assuredly gone, whether by buyout or trade. General manager Ken Holland was reportedly looking to move him during the draft but apparently didn’t find any buyers. The thought on Colaiacovo has been that he’d been a relatively cheap veteran guy for a team to pick up, so there would be trade interest. If no trade is found, he’ll probably be bought out, so we should know what happens to him by July 3 (the last day a player can be placed on waivers with enough time to clear before the July 4 buyout deadline).

Jordin Tootoo is like Colaiacovo in that the team seems open to trading him. They probably won’t buy him out, though, so if a deal comes along that works they’ll take it but if not they’re fine keeping him.

Cory Emmerton could be this year’s Mattias Ritola. The Wings likely won’t try to move him until they know whether or not they have to as the season gets closer. If they can’t move him, they’ll lose him for nothing on waivers in October.

Lightning Claim Ritola, Meech and Maltby Waived

Forward Mattias Ritola has been claimed on waivers by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Ritola was placed on waivers by the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, with the team hoping he would clear so they could send him to the Grand Rapids Griffins. He is a known commodity to Tampa Bay scout Pat Verbeek and general manager Steve Yzerman, who were with the Detroit organization last season.

The Red Wings also announced that veteran forward Kirk Maltby and defenseman Derek Meech were waived, with the intent of sending them to Grand Rapids. Meech cleared waivers last month.

The moves get the Red Wings down to a 23-man roster.

Red Wings Waive Ritola

The Detroit Red Wings waived forward Mattias Ritola on Monday. If he goes unclaimed, he will be sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Ritola was one of seven forwards aiming to fill the last five roster spots up front for Detroit. Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm are set to play on the team’s fourth line, likely joined by Drew Miller and the currently-injured Kris Draper and Patrick Eaves.

Longtime Red Wing Kirk Maltby was also in the mix but is also expected to be waived and sent to Grand Rapids.

Maltby Signs Two-way Deal with Detroit

The Detroit Red Wings signed veteran forward Kirk Maltby to a one-year, two-way deal on Wednesday.

While financial terms were not officially announced, the contract is reportedly worth $525,000 at the NHL level. Maltby would earn $105,000 while playing in the AHL, the maximum allowed for players on a two-way contract without having to clear re-entry waivers.

Maltby is likely to start the season in Grand Rapids as there are already six forwards fighting for three spots on the Red Wings’ fourth line. Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Patrick Eaves, Kris Draper, Drew Miller and Mattias Ritola are all fighting for a spot in the lineup, with either Miller or Ritola expected to be moved before the start of the season.

Thoughts on Modano

I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not I think the Red Wings signing Mike Modano would be a good thing or a bad one.

My first thought was that there was no way it would happen. Modano’s not the gritty fourth-liner the Wings said they were looking for. He doesn’t come at the league minimum salary. It’s not a fit.

Of course, I wanted it to happen because Modano’s one of the great American players of all-time. The storyline is great, with Modano coming to Detroit and ending his career with his hometown team. And over the holiday weekend, as rumors started heating up, it was easy to change my mind.

Modano is a much better third-line center than Justin Abdelkader. He’s a second-unit power play threat. He’s a veteran leader on a team whose forward corps is very young (by Detroit standards). The cost would be marginal, with Mattias Ritola being waived to go to Grand Rapids, a move the Red Wings seemingly planned for anyway by giving him a two-way deal last spring.

Today, I’m on the negative side again. Forget the salary cap, the cost will be too high based on roster limits alone.

The Red Wings currently have 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and two goalies, assuming all three of their remaining unsigned restricted free agents return. That’s a 23-man lineup, the league max.

Yes, Ritola could be waived. He might make it through to GR. He’s the only one who might, though.

Subtracting Ritola and adding Modano still puts the Red Wings at 23 men. Two extra forwards, one extra defenseman, no third-string goalie. While it could work, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.

If Jimmy Howard or Chris Osgood got hurt, there’d be no roster spot for a short-term call-up of Joey MacDonald. If two defensemen went down at once the Wings would be short on the blueline.

The Wings might be in that kind of situation without Modano. Or they could go all season with no injuries (or only injuries to forwards). That doesn’t mean tempting fate is the right decision.

Of course, if they could swing a deal where they at least got something in return for some of their depth, that changes everything.

Game Four Pregame Notes

Kicking this thread off early ’cause I’m planning on building my new deck all day and really don’t know if I’ll have time to post later. Hell, I don’t even know if I’ll catch the game yet.

Only note I find interesting is that Mike Babcock is considering swapping out Jason Williams for Mattias Ritola. To that, I shrug.

Ritola didn’t knock my socks off in his stint with the team earlier this year but I’m also of the opinion that Williams can’t get out of Detroit fast enough. Brad May would be no better of an addition. Jan Mursak? Not really a lot of options. And having Williams as the right-handed shot on the point on the power play doesn’t matter if you don’t get any power plays.

I still have a tiny bit of hope that the Red Wings can pull this off but not if they play like they’ve played the first three games of the series, specifically the third period on Tuesday.

Win tonight and it’s back to San Jose with the Sharks knowing they blew a chance to sweep. Win Saturday and it’s back to Detroit with everyone in the hockey world talking about how this could be a classic San Jose choke job.

So it’ll take a lot, and it’ll take the Sharks crumbling a bit, but stranger things have happened. I’m not sure I see it happening but the possibility is there if the Wings can rise up and take it.

Guessing the Odd-Men Out

Sooner or later the Red Wings will be healthy again. Given how much they miss their injured players right now, that’s a good thing. It is going to cause quite the roster crunch, though.

The Wings currently have one extra forward. Last night it was Ville Leino who sat in favor of Brad May. Bill at A2Y questioned why May would play when Detroit’s offense has been so anemic.

He admits that having Leino on the ice last night wouldn’t have made a difference but it got me thinking… How are the Red Wings going to put together their lineup when their four missing forwards come back?

There are thirteen healthy forwards right now, including Mattias Ritola who can be sent to Grand Rapids at any time so I assume he’s gone as soon as someone comes back.

Dan Cleary and Henrik Zetterberg could be back tomorrow in Los Angeles. Jason Williams is looking at returning later this month. Johan Franzen is expected back after the Olympic break. That’s four of twelve forwards right there.

I don’t see Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk, Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm or Tomas Holmstrom losing their spots in the lineup. I also highly doubt that Kris Draper would be a casualty of the numbers. Justin Abdelkader could be sent to Grand Rapids but the Red Wings told him to find a house in the Detroit area so I’m assuming he sticks with the team.

We’re up to eleven of twelve roster spots.

Patrick Eaves, Ville Leino, Kirk Maltby, Brad May and Drew Miller. Only one stays. Who is it?

May, Leino and Maltby are my immediate choices to be left out. This leaves either Eaves or Miller. I think I’d keep Eaves due to his slightly better offensive potential.

The choice is not an easy one no matter how you look at it.

Eaves Out Against Avalanche

The Red Wings host the Colorado Avalanche in Detroit’s annual New Years’ Eve matchup tonight.

Patrick Eaves will be out with the flu so Ville Leino will return to the lineup after missing one game as a healthy scratch. Mattias Ritola remains with the Wings.

Jimmy Howard gets the start after allowing only one goal in Sunday’s overtime loss to Columbus.

Red Wings Waste Stellar Performance by Howard, Fall to Columbus 1-0

Jimmy Howard stopped 39 of 40 shots against on Monday night but it wasn’t enough for the Detroit Red Wings, who dropped a 1-0 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime.

Blue Jackets netminder Steve Mason stopped all 34 shots he faced – including two in overtime – in earning the shutout victory.

It was the third time in their last four games that the Red Wings were shut out.

The only goal of the game came 3:12 into the overtime period when Fredrik Modin walked around Detroit blueliner Brad Stuart and snapped a shot on net from the top of the left faceoff circle. Modin then jumped into the slot to pick up the rebound and slid it in around the sprawling Howard.

The Red Wings were once again unable to capitalize on any of their four power plays, including 43 seconds of five-on-three.

Columbus went scoreless on three power play tries.

The Red Wings next action will be their annual New Years Eve game as they play host to the Colorado Avalanche.


Detroit forward Ville Leino was a healthy scratch in favor of call-up Mattias Ritola… The Blue Jackets were without Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina, acquired earlier in the day from the Washington Capitals for Jason Chimera.