Detroit Red Wings Trade Deadline Decisions Loom

detroit red wings trade

The Detroit Red Wings are going to be sellers at this year’s deadline. That much is no secret. But what would be the best-case scenario for the Red Wings at the deadline? Here at Last Word on Hockey, we will look into the various rumours surrounding the Red Wings and find the best-case scenario deadline deals for them!

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Detroit Red Wings Have Huge Deadline Decisions

Over the last few seasons, the Red Wings have been at the basement of the NHL league standings. They went from holding an NHL record for consecutive postseason appearances with 25 to being anchored by poor contracts and a stubbornness by management to enter a rebuild. However, things are starting to look up for the Red Wings in recent years. They added Steve Yzerman as their new GM, who had built the Tampa Bay Lightning into the perennial contenders, and defending Stanley Cup champions, that they are today. 

On top of that, they’ve added the likes of Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider, William Wallinder, Albin Grewe, Albert Johansson and Theodore Niederbach to an already decent prospect pipeline. They’ve seen the development of Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Anthony Mantha, Dennis Cholowski, Filip Hronek and Jared McIsaac blossom right before their eyes. However, their team is still, obviously, a basement dweller in the standings. Moves are still necessary to bolster their rebuild.

The Players Most Likely to be Dealt

There are a few players who, it could be argued, have their days as a Red Wing numbered. These are players on expiring deals on a cheap contract and a good amount of experience. Those players include Bobby Ryan, Luke Glendening, Sam Gagner, and Jon Merrill. First, let’s start with Merrill. 

Merrill is a left-handed defenseman with a cap hit of $925,000. However, there’s just $382,759 left remaining for the season on his deal, per CapFriendly. That said, he is an extremely affordable option for virtually any team needing defensive depth. He’s currently second on the Red Wings in ice time per game, at 5-on-5, playing 16:49 a night there. He averages 38 seconds a game on the power play and 1:33 per game on the penalty kill, which ranks third among Red Wings defenders. However, his advanced numbers, like xGF% (expected goals for percentage) and SCF% (scoring chances for percentage) rank down at 19th and 21st, respectively. 

What Can the Red Wings Land in a Merrill Deal?

Looking back at the 2020 NHL trade deadline, a somewhat similar deal transpired. The New York Rangers traded defenseman Brady Skjei to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2020 1st round pick. Skjei’s WAR (wins-above-replacement) sat at -1.1 with the Rangers when he was dealt. Merrill’s is currently at a better rate of 0.8, on a substantially worse team. Skjei averaged more ice time and was 25 at the time he was dealt. Merrill is 29, giving him less upside than Skjei. However, yet again, Merrill’s stats are simply better, registering a better xGF% and SCF% than that of Skjei’s last deadline. 

With money as tight as it is across the league, Merrill’s contract is extremely valuable. Not to mention, the recent trade of Skjei sets a benchmark for the Wings to use. Looking at teams who need defence, the Tampa Bay Lightning spring to mind, as rumours have swirled around them adding defensive depth. The Bruins have dealt with a ton of injuries and lack experience and depth on the blueline as well. That said, with contending teams clearly in need, and in the Bruins case, desperate, the best-case scenario is the Red Wings net a 2021 1st round pick for Merrill at this year’s deadline. The odds of that are low but never underestimate how short-sighted General Managers are at trade deadlines. 

Gauging Bobby Ryan’s Value

Bobby Ryan’s career has seemingly been revitalized, even if he is beyond his prime years. His production of six goals and seven assists for 13 points in 29 games, or 0.448 points per game,  for a bad Red Wings team, which is solid. Plus, there are a number of teams looking for forward depth, with Toronto coming to mind, as well as the Bruins once again. His advanced analytics aren’t great, as he has produced a -0.1 WAR thus far. However, he averages the fourth-most power play time for the Red Wings, at 2:47 per game. In total, he plays an average of 15:43 per game, ranking 13th on the Red Wings. 

A similar deal in last year’s deadline was Patrick Marleau being dealt by the San Jose Sharks to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional 2020 3rd round pick. The condition was that the pick became a 2nd rounder if the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, which they did not end up doing. Marleau, before being dealt, averaged 15:35 time on ice per game, giving him almost the exact same number that Ryan has. Marleau had 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points in 58 games, which is 0.345 points per game. His point production was worse than Ryan’s upon being dealt. Marleau also produced a 0 WAR, giving him barely an edge. 

The Best Deal for Detroit

In the case of Bobby Ryan, Detroit should look to add a 2nd round pick. Scouting this season has not been easy or clear for NHL front offices. Add to that fact that the 2021 draft class is considerably weak, outside of someone like Matthew Beniers, and that means that draft picks are at a low value this season. If Marleau could land a conditional 3rd that can become a 2nd, while producing almost at the same exact rate both analytically and statistically, then Ryan should net a 2nd round pick straight up. The odds of this deal are far more likely than the previous deal mentioned with Merrill, but this deadline is tricky. However, if this is the return for Ryan, it is a win for Detroit. 

Detroit Red Wings Trade Value for Luke Glendening?

Glendening is a leader on and off the ice for the Red Wings, which is why his jersey dons the “A”. He is the definition of what people consider “playoff-type” players. Glendening is hard to play against, as his 1,051 career hits entail. His point production is lacklustre, which is shown by his nine points in 30 games this season. Averaging just 14:27 per game, his role is also limited, which potentially hurts his value. Where his value shines through, however, is in the fact that he is the Red Wings’ primary penalty killer. He averages a team-leading 2:32 penalty killing minutes per game. Glendening has recorded a -0.1 WAR this season. 

A comparable deal is the Cody Eakin to the Winnipeg Jets deal. In that trade, the Vegas Golden Knights received a conditional fourth-round pick that would turn into a third if the Jets made the playoffs. Eakin averaged 14:39 time on ice per game, pretty even with where Glendening is. He is also thought of as a strong leader, though he wasn’t wearing a letter at the time of the deal. Eakin also averaged 2:03 per game on the penalty kill, again close to where Glendening is. Finally, he had just 10 points in 41 games with Vegas before he was dealt, which is behind where Glendening is projected. Eakin additionally had a -0.4 WAR when he was dealt, again worse than Glendening. 

Detroit Red Wings Best Deal for Glendening

Glendening has been more productive offensively for a really bad Red Wings team than Eakin was when he was dealt, playing the same role, on a much better team. If Eakin can reel in a conditional fourth that becomes a third, then Glendening should be able to land a conditional third. The fact that he is a better player than Eakin was overall, along with the leadership and physical ability that makes him an attractive option come playoff time, Glendening should be able to get the Red Wings a pick that could end up in the second round. 

Detroit Red Wings and Sam Gagner 

Sam Gagner is the least valuable from a trade value standpoint. Scoring four goals and five assists for nine points in 24 games played, Gagner’s production has not been too bad. Averaging 14:47 of time on ice per game, he plays a small role for Detroit. He averages 1:56 of power-play time per game and 1:07 of penalty killing time. With that in mind, he is a solid special teams forward who can provide strong depth at 5-on-5. He has also provided the Red Wings with 0.5 WAR. 

A comparable asset dealt in last year’s deadline was Derek Grant to the Philadelphia Flyers. He was traded for Kyle Criscuolo and a 4th round pick. Grant played more specifically on the penalty kill but also had a good amount of time on the powerplay. He averaged 38 seconds per game on the power play for Anaheim before he was dealt, along with 2:34 on the penalty kill. In total, Grant averaged 13:51 time on ice per game. He had a smaller role than Gagner when he was dealt. He also had 20 points in 49 games, which is better than Gagner’s current pace. Grant provided Anaheim with 0.2 WAR before he was dealt, which was worse than what Gagner currently is this season. 

Detroit Red Wings Best Deal for Gagner

Using the comparable trade from just last year, it’s fair to say he could grab about an equal amount of value as Grant. That means that Gagner could garner a top AHL player or taxi squad player from a contender. That player could go along with a mid-round pick. With that in mind, a contender is likely to bury a good player on a taxi squad due to how good the team is. That means there’s potential for the Red Wings to find some bargain from a hidden player. That, overall, could impact the draft pick they receive. 

Looking at teams who could use special teams help, the Vegas Golden Knights are a below-average powerplay team. Meanwhile, the Canadiens are about in the middle of the league. Montreal certainly could use a boost to their penalty kill, as well. With those two teams in mind, the Red Wings could land Victor Mete and a 6th round pick. That’s due to Mete having fallen out of favour in Montreal but comes with upside. Or, they could look at Vegas and trade Gagner for a guy like Carl Dahlstrom and a 5th round pick. Both are solid options, though rather minimal. 

Detroit Red Wings Far-Fetched Options

While those four players could, overall, reel in a strong haul for Detroit, based on comparables and best-case scenarios, there are other avenues. On top of the four players mentioned, there have been bigger names thrown around the rumour mill. Anthony Mantha has been floated out as an option. Some other notable players who could be dealt with include Marc Staal, though his contract will make things difficult. 

Additionally, younger depth players like Adam Erne and Evgeny Svechnikov could be thrown into any deal to add more assets. As those two players don’t provide a ton of value for Detroit. Although Svechnikov hasn’t looked too bad recently, though it could also just be a hot streak. This could be the best time to sell high on him, though it is unlikely

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