Friday, June 22nd is a massive day for the Detroit Red Wings. The team has two picks in the opening round of the NHL Entry Draft. The first is the sixth overall pick, where they’re expected to take whichever of the top-4 defensemen is available, and the second is the 30th overall pick, which became Detroit’s by way of the Tomas Tatar trade with the Vegas Golden Knights at the NHL Trade Deadline.
In addition to this, the Wings have two second round picks and three third round picks. That’s a lot of ammunition in the top-half of the draft, which has led to many discussions about the team either trading up or trading down in the first round.
At this point, anything could happen. Craig Custance from The Athletic just published a piece examining the top 20 players in the NHL who could be on the move this summer. He’s listed two Red Wings in this list. The first is Andreas Athanasiou and the second in Nick Jensen.
While Custance acknowledges that the Red Wings aren’t desperate to move Athanasiou, he does admit that both sides (both AA’s camp and the Wings management) aren’t against a trade. With the arbitration-eligible Athanasiou set to get a raise this year after holding out for a contract last Summer, Custance posits that Ken Holland and co. may want to “let another team get that deal done”, especially with them having to ink Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha to new big boy contracts.
Custance notes that other teams love Athanasiou’s speed, which is not a huge surprise. He also confirms that there “seems to be some strain between Athanasiou and the coaching staff”.
AA’s time in Detroit could be up, but nothing in Custance’s piece suggests Detroit is actively shopping him or teams are actively calling. It’s more of a “wouldn’t-surprise-me-if-it-happened” kind of blurb.
It may be a little surprising seeing Jensen’s name pop up in an article like this because we all know that Holland is trying to find Xavier Ouellet a fresh start somewhere else, but the fact of the matter is that Jensen is a good bottom-pair defenseman who is incredibly cheap. He’s a good skater and was arguably Detroit’s best defenseman last season.
Custance points out that the Wings aren’t too eager to move Jensen yet, especially with the uncertainty of Mike Green’s new contract.
My thinking is that Nick Jensen is a 27-year-old bottom-6 defenseman. Sure, his cap-hit is under a million dollars, but he’s easily replaceable. If the offer comes up, Holland has to take it, especially if he wants to get young guys like Joe Hicketts or Filip Hronek into the lineup.
Overall, neither Athanasiou or Jensen are game breakers that are going to lead Detroit back into the playoffs. They are both replaceable and should be used if they can help the Wings bring in better talent.
As for the draft, it’s moves like these that would bolster the Wings’ chances of making an even bigger splash in the first round. We’ll see if Holland can once again work that draft day magic.