The trade deadline is quickly approaching and with dominoes falling it is only a matter of time before the rebuild officially kicks off in Detroit. It is known that Thomas Vanek is one of the top rentals out on the market. According to CapFriendly, he has just over $592,000 remaining on his $2.5 million dollar contract. And having scored 15 goals and 38 points his value for the Wings will be through the roof, but the move will also give the next generation of Wings a chance to shine.
Here are the top three benefactors of the Red Wings trade deadline moves.
1. Evgeny Svechnikov, LW
Arguably the top prospect in their system, the 6’5″ and 205 lbs. left winger was chosen 19th overall in 2015 from the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. After spending two years in the Q where he registered 64 goals and 157 points in 105 games, he turned pro this season. And his scoring touch has transitioned well to the next level, despite being one of the youngest players in the league. The 20-year old has suited up for 52 games and is 17th in rookie scoring in the AHL with 15 goals and 32 points. He is second in rookie shots with 127 and an 11.8 per cent shooting percentage.
While Vanek slotted in down the right side, there will be some lineup tinkering required. Svechnikov should be able to fill the scoring void left on the third line. He plays a similar game to Vanek in the sense he is able to use his size well in the offensive zone to shield the puck and battle in the corners and both players have a deadly release on their wrist and snapshots.
Both players are not the most ideal to have in defensive zone situations, but, being a 20-year-old, Svechnikov is learning and will have some bad moments.
2. Kyle Criscuolo, C
The 24-year-old right handed center-man is in his first full season with the Griffins after spending four years at Harvard, where he netted 53 goals and 113 points in 124 games. He’s listed at 5’7″ and a generous 170 lbs. He captained Harvard for two years before signing last summer. Criscuolo is a former NCAA (ECAC) All-Star, and All-Ivy League player who led his team to the 2015 ECAC Hockey championship in Lake Placid, New York.
Through 53 appearances this season he has 13 goals and 30 points. While his stats are not as pretty as Svechnikov’s it is no secret the Wings could always use center help and more depth scoring from their bottom six. Criscuolo has speed that makes him useful at the AHL level on the penalty kill and the power play, where he has seven power play points. Despite being a pass first guy, he is not hesitant to shoot the puck.
Criscuolo plays a very simple and disciplined style of game, having only taken four penalties. A comparison to Red Wings third line center Darren Helm is accurate. He will not overwhelm with points or flash but he is a serviceable player that head coach Jim Blashill can deploy in key situations. While currently on a minor league deal, it is possible for them to skirt the system by offering him a PTO or signing him for the remainder of the season.
3. Tyler Bertuzzi, LW
Similar to Svechnikov, Bertuzzi does not quite fill the void left by Vanek as he plays the opposite wing. His play style is similar to Vanek’s, but with a little more edge. Chosen 58th overall in the 2013 draft, Bertuzzi spent last year in Grand Rapids tallying 30 points and 133 penalty minutes. This year, Bertuzzi has already skated in seven games for the Wings, something he has above his competition. Listed at 6” and 190 lbs, Bertuzzi does not shy away from the physical play but can contribute in the offensive zone, making him the ideal case to be slotted in on the third line.
In 32 games this season, Bertuzzi has nine goals and 26 points, good enough for ninth in team scoring. Bertuzzi has also seen time on the power play, with two of his goals coming on the man advantage. He is a future Johan Franzen type of player, who will get under opponents’ skin, get right in the goalie’s kitchen and will not shy away from physicality. His skating is not the best but has improved in recent years and will continue to do so. Bertuzzi has the ability to play up and down the lineup and contribute in both ends of the ice, making him one of the most ideal candidates to see a increased role following the trade deadline.
It would not be a surprise to see their playing time increase in the AHL and even have some, if not all, earn a call-up and see some brief NHL stints before being returned for their playoffs. Ken Holland is the man with the plan and tasked with improving the Wings and doing what is best for the kids. Known for finding late round gems and playoff hockey in Motown, Holland certainly has some options and some bright spots for the rather gloomy year.