The Detroit Red Wings made one move Monday before the NHL trade deadline, but it wasn’t the move everyone thought they would make.
With the team five points out of a playoff spot as of Monday morning, general manager Ken Holland looked to move some assets to build for the future.
He managed to make a couple of moves, but was the return worth it? Let’s take a look at the trades the Red Wings made.
Tomas Tatar to VGK for three draft picks
Although Tomas Tatar’s name came up in possible deals, everyone and their mother expected Holland to deal Mike Green. Alas, Holland couldn’t find a suitor for the defenseman but ended up getting a hefty return for Tatar.
The Red Wings collected a 2018 first-round pick, a 2019 second-round pick and a 2021 third-round pick from the Vegas Golden Knights for the Slovakian left winger.
In all honesty, Vegas overpaid for Tatar, a solid middle-line winger who can play top-line minutes if need be. This is a depth move for the Golden Knights, but spending three draft picks for a depth piece isn’t ideal. That being said, Vegas had some draft picks to use and must have felt it was necessary to acquire scoring depth.
Tatar should be good for 10-15 points for the rest of the season and can chip in offensively during the playoffs.
Thanks to Bill Comeau’s visual (for an interactive version, click here), we see Tatar isn’t great at scoring at 5 on 5 but has solid relative possession numbers despite facing quality competition.
Patrick Maroon is a couple years older than Tatar, so the comparison isn’t exactly perfect, but the New Jersey Devils only had to give up a 2019 third-round pick and a prospect to get Maroon.
These stats are also slightly outdated, as Tatar has eight goals and 17 points at 5 on 5.
All in all, the Red Wings were able to get a sizeable return for a player that hadn’t panned out exactly the way they thought he would. Tatar gets a fresh start on a good team, and the Red Wings get a second first-round pick in this year’s draft.
Petr Mrazek to PHI for two conditional picks
Although this trade happened last week, I’ll still count it as part of the trade deadline. The Red Wings got a conditional 2018 fourth-round pick and a conditional 2019 third-round pick from the Philadelphia Flyers for Petr Mrazek.
In a perfect world, the Red Wings would have dealt Howard and kept Mrazek, but it sounded like the Red Wings had no interest in keeping Mrazek past this season, so it was better to get some assets for him rather than lose him for nothing.
#RedWings Holland said he was not comfortable with having to give Mrazek $4 million qualifying offer.
— Dana Wakiji (@Dwakiji) February 20, 2018
As far as the conditions go, if Mrazek wins five regular season games and the Flyers reach the playoffs, the 2018 fourth-round pick becomes a third-round pick. If the Flyers reach the Eastern Conference final and Mrazek wins six playoff games, the third-round pick becomes a second-round pick. Lastly, if the Flyers re-sign Mrazek this summer, Detroit gets Philadelphia’s 2019 third-round pick. The Red Wings also retained 50 percent of Mrazek’s $4-million cap hit.
For a goalie who has shown flashes of brilliance (back-to-back shutouts against Chicago and New Jersey) but also has struggled in the same season (three games with a save percentage less than 0.800), it’s a solid return. According to ESPN, the Flyers previously rejected a trade for Mrazek in exchange for the Flyers’ 2018 third-round pick. In all likelihood, the Flyers will make the playoffs and Mrazek will win five games, so the pick stays the same. However, there is the possibility of collecting another pick should Mrazek re-sign, so it’s a slight upgrade. I don’t foresee the Flyers making it to the Eastern Conference final, but stranger things have happened.
My only beef with this trade is Philadelphia was desperate for a goalie, so why did Holland feel rushed to make the trade a week ago? Holland holds all the leverage in this deal, and if he wanted to extract another pick or prospect, he could have done so, as the Flyers were scrambling to find a goalie to replace both Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth.
No trade for Mike Green
Like the subhead implies, the Red Wings were not able to trade Green before the deadline. He was the one player I for sure thought was going to be traded. With his contract expiring after this season, he was the perfect rental for a team looking for defensive depth.
However, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, Green’s neck injury scared teams away.
Correct. Injury scared everybody off. https://t.co/2xjZvdMpJw
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 26, 2018
Yes, Ryan McDonagh also was moved to the Tampa Bay Lightning despite being injured, but McDonagh has a lot more upside than Green, or at least, that’s what every other team that inquired about him probably believed.
Green doesn’t have much defensive upside; his strength is offense, whereas McDonagh is a solid defensive defenseman who can play top-line minutes. Green, on the other hand, probably is more of a second or third pairing defenseman who can run a power play, and with a $6-million cap hit, there were too many risks to acquire Green for a little more than two months.
During a conference call after the deadline, Holland said there was interest in Green, but the uncertainty of the injury and it flaring up was a big concern for teams.
I’m torn on this no deal, as I understand if no team wants a player, there’s nothing Holland can do. But at the same time, even if Holland got a fifth-round pick for Green, there had to be at least one team willing to take a flier on Green despite his recent injury and cap hit.
The Tatar deal was an unexpected surprise and a great move by Holland, but not getting anything for Green seemed like a missed opportunity.
Holland said he wanted to acquire picks, and he did just that, securing four total picks over the next few years with a possiblity of a fifth should the Flyers re-sign Mrazek.
As it stands now, the Red Wings have the most picks in this year’s draft (11), with eight of those 11 picks coming in the first four rounds.
A prospect would have been nice, but it’s a solid haul for the Red Wings. Getting rid of Tatar’s $5.3-million cap hit gives the Red Wings room to sign Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Tyler Bertuzzi, Martin Frk and Andreas Athanasiou with all five players becoming restricted free agents this summer.
Plus, there’s always the possibility of moving another roster player at the draft with one less year on everybody’s contract.