And just like that, it’s over. The hours, days, and weeks of rumors and speculation have culminated in what was always bound to be an anticlimactic afternoon.
While the Red Wings were subject to some speculation on secondary pieces like Luke Glendening, Niklas Kronwall, Thomas Vanek and Jimmy Howard, none of them came to fruition for various reasons. Kronwall and Vanek politely refused to waive their no trade clauses for interested teams and the asking price for Glendening was too high.
Ken Holland‘s actual trade deadline day may have been quiet, but he was hard at work leading up to it, making to significant roster moves by trading Nick Jensen to the Washington Capitals and Gustav Nyquist to the San Jose Sharks. Below you’ll find grades for each of the trades, as well as an overall grade for the Wings trade activity this deadline season.
The Red Wings blue line was, and still is, crowded. They needed to unload somebody and Jensen was their best and cheapest trade chip. As a pending unrestricted free agent, Jensen was bound to get a pay raise on his $850k cap hit and at 28-years-old, the Wings had much younger prospects in their pipeline to give ice time to.
The Return: A 2nd round draft pick in 2020 and 23-year-old defenseman Madison Bowey.
The Analysis: It’s funny, but not many 2019 draft picks were thrown around this year. The focus was mostly on 2020 and a 2nd rounder for Nick Jensen is a perfectly fine return. Throw in Bowey, who was once highly-touted but has been a bit of a letdown and the deal looks even sweeter. Bowey has another year left on his contract at $1-million AAV, but he’s a reclamation project. If he doesn’t pan out, then the team can easily cut ties with him after next year. It’s a low-risk, high-reward kind of deal.
The Winner: Shortly after the trade was announced, Jensen signed a 4-year, $10-million contract with the Caps ($2.5-million AAV). This is not the kind of deal the Red Wings want from a 28-year-old defenseman at this stage of their rebuild, but it’s exactly the kind of deal Jensen deserves to be rewarded with. This trade is a win-win-win in my books.
The Grade: A-
Holland got a greater return than I was anticipating for Jensen, though he’s still got a lot of work to do on the blue line this Summer if he wants Dennis Cholowski and Filip Hronek to get regular playing time. And he should want that because they are both ready.
The official announcement came in after midnight last night, which means it technically happened on trade deadline day, but the Wings biggest trade chip was dealt long before the 3:00 P.M. deadline. Over the last eight years, Nyquist has been one of the Wings best forwards. This year, he is on pace for more than 60 points and is exactly the kind of top-6 player a team like the San Jose Sharks needs for a deep playoff run.
The Return: A 2019 2nd round pick and a conditional 2020 3rd round pick that becomes a 2nd if the Sharks advance to the Stanley Cup Finals or Nyquist re-signs with them.
The Analysis: The market for a top-6 winger was set the day before when Mats Zuccarello was moved for the exact same return (though both picks had conditions on them). It feels like an underwhelming return for what a player like Nyquist represents on the current Red Wings roster, but the Wings have found a lot of success in the 2nd round the last couple of years. Holland was also handcuffed by Nyquist’s full NTC and San Jose was his top option to be dealt to. The player held a lot of power in this process and it’s likely that Nyquist vetoed any other team, which limited Holland’s ability to drive the price up.
EDIT: We’ve since learned from Max Bultman of The Athletic that Nyquist only had one team on his no-trade list. I still think the return is good based on what happened with Zuccarello and Ryan Dzingle.
The Winner: This isn’t exactly a loss for Detroit, especially considering Nyquist was looking for a 5 year extension in the $28-million range. But the real winner here is San Jose, who acquired a legit top-6 winger for their upcoming playoff run. We just saw how dangerous the Sharks can be on Sunday afternoon. Now, they are even more dangerous. The Pacific Division showdown is going to be a bloody one, but with Nyquist on their roster, the Sharks have a very good chance of coming out alive.
The Grade: B
Holland didn’t get nothing out of this one, but he didn’t get anything certain either. Sure, that 2nd round pick can turn into another Filip Hronek or Tyler Bertuzzi, but for the amount of time Detroit put into developing Nyquist into the player her is today and the season he’s putting up, it would have been nice to get a sure thing back.
The Grade: B
The trades Holland did make worked out well for him and the future of the franchise, but I knocked off points for not budging on his asking price for Glendening or pushing more aggressively to move another defenseman.
The latter is a problem that’s going to have to be dealt with sooner or later. For now, it looks like it will be later in what is surely going to be an interesting offseason.
How would you grade the Red Wings trade deadline? Let us know in the comments below.