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Breaking Down Bob McKenzie’s Red Wings Trade Talk

TSN’s Bob McKenzie is one of the NHL’s premier insiders and hosts one of the best hockey podcasts on the planet.

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On this week’s show he took an extensive look at the upcoming trade deadline, going team-by-team and discussing what each team is expected to do in the next couple of weeks.

Bob talked about the Red Wings at length and described them as an “interesting team” and “open on several levels.” Instead of me quoting the entire 9-plus minute segment, give it a listen for yourself and I will break down all of the levels of the discussion.

Most importantly and Bob hit it right off the top is “there is no rebuild coming.” He alluded to the fact that the Red Wings, at least with Ken Holland at the helm, are wary of a full rebuild because it hasn’t exactly worked for the Sabres, Coyotes and to some degree the Oilers. Some Red Wings fans might disagree with Holland’s thinking, but I tend to agree with him. If you look at the Oilers, they’ve had four No.1 overall picks and six top-4 overall picks in the last eight years and they’re probably going to miss the playoffs this season. Some of that can be blamed on mismanagement, like trading Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson or Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome, but the complete rebuild isn’t a fool-proof system, even if you get six top-4 picks in eight years.

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So basically Bob says that the Red Wings are going to attempt to re-build or re-tool on the fly with veterans like Henrik Zetterberg, Frans Nielsen, Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader bringing along the younger guys. Obviously none of those four contracts are ideal, but if they have to stay for the duration, it might not be the end of the world. But let’s get into the meaty stuff. The trade talk.

Mike Green

As Bob points out, Green has a full no-trade clause and holds the keys as to where he ends up over the next few weeks. That’s not ideal, but there is sure to be a number of teams calling Holland on Green, so he should be able to find the offensive-defenseman a new home that he likes and get the necessary return.

Bob expects Detroit to get something similar to what most Red Wings fans expected, which is a 1st Round Pick and a prospect. Brendan Smith fetched a 2nd and a 3rd round pick last year (thank you Glen Sather!) and that is likely the lowest return Detroit will see for Green.

He named the Tampa Bay Lightning as a team that A) has interest in Green and B) a place where Green would waive his no-trade clause to go to. If Green were to get traded to the Lightning and it was a similar deal to what the Washington Capitals gave up to get Kevin Shattenkirk last year (1st + Zach Sanford) a deal would probably look something like:

1st Round Pick + Adam Erne or Anthony Cirelli or Mathieu Joseph

Now, don’t quote me on the availability of Erne (who is up with the Lightning right now), Cirelli or Joseph. But those are the type of B-level prospects that the Red Wings could expect to get in return and that are similar to a player like Sanford. They’re also the type of player/prospect that the Lightning have a plethora of in their system.

The most fascinating part of the whole Green talk is that he apparently loves it in Detroit and there’s potential for him to come back this summer and sign another short-term deal—similar to the three-year, $18.0M deal that comes to an end this year. It’s hard to envision him wanting to come back to a rebuilding team, but if he goes to Tampa Bay and wins a Stanley Cup this spring, that might make the decision a little easier. In short, if Green does come back it would be a huge help in this apparent re-tool on the fly that we’re about to experience.

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Tomas Tatar / Gustav Nyquist

It has been well documented that the Red Wings could move Tatar or Nyquist at the deadline.

Tatar, who has 14 goals and 10 assists in 54 games this season, has three years left with a $5.3M cap-hit and Nyquist, who has registered 15 goals and 10 assists in 54 games, sits with one-year remaining at $4.75M.

The interesting case with both Tatar and Nyquist is their term and digestible cap-hits. The market this season is loaded with rental wingers like Evander Kane, Rick Nash, Patrick Maroon and Michael Grabner to name a few. With the Sabres and Rangers likely looking for a first round pick and maybe a prospect for Kane and Nash, why wouldn’t teams give up a 2nd round pick and a prospect for Tatar and Nyquist, who aren’t just pure rentals. If you’re a GM it is a no brainer to give up less and have a player for longer.

Especially when you consider that Nyquist and Tatar compare pretty well to players like Kane and Nash and are probably better, albeit different players than Maroon and Grabner.

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via: Bill Comeau – SKATR Comparison Tool

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The good news for the Red Wings in this situation is it appears there are a lot of teams in need of a top-6 winger as we approach the deadline, so there should be an appetite for both Tatar and Nyquist. While I can’t pinpoint the exact team they will go to, Bob uses Nashville as a team that could covet their services. What could a potential return look like:

2nd Round Pick + Emil Pettersson or Justin Kirkland or Anthony Richard

Again, I can’t speak to the availability of those players, but they’re again the type of B-level prospect I could see being moved in a deal like this. The Red Wings’ system is already pretty deep on the blueline, but Windsor, ON native Trevor Murphy is another name that could surface in a potential deal with the Predators. But likely half of the league has interest in Tatar and Nyquist, so a deal would look totally different with any other organization.

Jimmy Howard / Petr Mrazek

Moving Howard or Mrazek has seemingly been talked about for over a year now, yet both goalies remain in a Red Wing uniform in the middle of February. As Bob points out, the Red Wings likely don’t care which one of them they move and it will probably be the goalie that is easiest to move. Howard has one-year left at $5.29M and Mrazek will be a restricted free agent this summer. That probably means that Holland will receive more calls on Mrazek than Howard, but a pre-deadline trade doesn’t seem likely anyways.

Let’s pretend for a minute that a deal for one of them does happen before the deadline, maybe a team would rather have Howard’s playoff experience than Mrazek’s inconsistency. Yesterday we saw Mike Smith go down with what looked like a groin injury. Maybe Calgary is in need of a goalie now to keep them in the playoff hunt? David Rittich has played well in limited action, but can he run with the ball? I doubt the Flames would want to take on Howard’s $5.29M next season and pay Smith and Howard a combined $9.54M so Mrazek probably makes the most sense.

For flexibility purposes, teams will probably want Mrazek more but if I’m Holland I’m trying to move Howard and keep the younger netminder. If Detroit is really building on the fly and aren’t going to be competitive next year, why not stick Mrazek with 55-to-60 games and see what he can do. Mrazek’s results are volatile but he has shown stretches of brilliance for three years now. Howard on the other hand will be 34-years-old this March and will be 35 by the time this team is ready to push for the playoffs. Plus, Mrazek likely won’t command more than $5.3M this summer, not after playing just 20 games through the first 4.5 months of the season.

In The End…

It sounds like at the very least the Red Wings are going to move Green and pick up a mid-to-late 1st round pick and a prospect. Should they also deal Nyquist or Tatar the Red Wings are looking at a 1st, a 2nd, two prospects and $10.75-to-$11.3M in cap-space for this summer.

Detroit needs to re-sign Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi and Martin Frk this summer, so they’ll need all the cap-space they can get.

Should those draft picks be of the 2018 variety, Detroit would be loaded with seven picks in the first three rounds of this summer’s draft:

  • 2 – 1st Round Picks
  • 3 – 2nd Round Picks
  • 2 – 3rd Round Picks

There have also been a few other trade murmurings surrounding the Red Wings that Bob McKenzie did not touch on.

  • Per Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts article, the Red Wings could make an Athanasiou for Justin Faulk deal with Carolina. I absolutely love this deal and hope it comes to fruition. Faulk is a stud right-handed defenseman that would help accelerate this rebuild-on-the-fly.
  • Per Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, teams have called Holland on Danny DeKeyser. The 27-year-old defenseman has four years, $20M ($5.0M AAV) left on his deal, so you’d think Detroit would have to eat some of that salary. However, if a team is calling on DeKeyser, Holland should be doing whatever it takes to get that contract off of the books. Another move that would accelerate this re-tooling.

* All Salary Cap Figures via NHLNumbers.com