With the NHL trade deadline quickly approaching Ken Holland got the ball rolling by sending Nick Jensen and a 2019 fifth round pick to Washington for a 2020 second round pick and 23-year-old defenseman Madison Bowey.
The trade is a win-win for both sides. Detroit picks up valuable draft capital and youth while Washington receives a reliable defenseman for another cup run. The biggest wild-card in the package coming back to the Red Wings is Bowey. A once highly touted prospect has been unable to adjust his game to the speed of the NHL game. Detroit decided to take a flier on the Kelowna product in hopes that a change of scenery will do him well.
How exactly does Bowey fit into what they are building in Motown?
He plays a tough, physical brand of hockey, combined with good offensive instincts. He was originally projected to become two-way defenseman who can log top-4 minutes. His foot speed has hindered him from progressing and becoming more comfortable with the NHL game. Upside-wise, we are probably looking at a number five or six defensemen at best.
Its pretty reasonable to argue Detroit has plenty of third pairing guys in their system. The logjam that the Wings face on the back-end may not be as crowded as its made out to be, but adding another maybe guy further complicates the future of their blue-line.
Which leaves Bowey in a vulnerable spot. He would have to pass though waivers to head to the AHL, which may make things difficult to develop him. The expectation is he’ll remain with the big club for the time being and his play could determine his long-term fate. If we look at his sample with Washington to get an understanding of what to expect in his first go-around with Detroit, signs point to those expectations being very low.
In 84 career NHL games he has recorded 1 goal and 18 points, while averaging 13:45 TOI in 33 games this season. If you ask around, many will tell you his defensive play has been brutal. Analytics guru Micah McCurdy described Bowey as “extremely bad.” The numbers certainly back that claim up.
Chart via evolving-hockey.com
AHL time could benefit him, but again, you have the waiver hurdle to consider. That said, trying to find his way in the NHL could be a struggle.
Past this season, Bowey is signed for one more year, making him a restricted free-agent in the summer of 2020. By then, Bowey could either be a solid third pair option, or a lost cause. How fast, if at all, he turns his game around will impact his stay with the organization. His window is limited, with other prospects pushing through the ranks.
While Bowey may not have been a “throw in” player to make salaries work in the Jensen trade, expecting him to mature into a key piece of the Red Wings young core will leave you very disappointed. This is a project the Wings are betting on, and for now, he has a lot to prove if he wants to become a staple in Detroit.