As the NHL’s trade deadline approaches, teams are preparing for their next stages of organizational development. For teams at the top of the standings, they are looking to add pieces to keep them strong. For teams that can’t stop the bleeding, they are likely looking to sell off assets and prepare for the offseason. The Detroit Red Wings, however, aren’t necessarily in that category this season. Despite sitting at the bottom of the league’s Central Division they are on the tail end of a rebuild. Buying major rental pieces at the deadline would make no sense for general manager Steve Yzerman. The team sits eight wins back from a playoff spot, currently held by the Nashville Predators. Despite the guaranteed lottery pick the team has already grabbed, this isn’t to say the team shouldn’t make a buying move at the deadline. It may sound crazy, but the team should consider trading for Johnny Gaudreau at the deadline this month.
Red Wings Should Trade for Johnny Gaudreau
Johnny Gaudreau’s Season so Far
Two seasons ago the then 25-year old put up an impressive 36 goals and 66 assists for 99 points and was in the Hart conversation. Flash forward and he’s currently on pace to miss the 82 game 6o point mark for the first time in his career. Does this mean he’s taken a huge drop in value? Not necessarily, no. Gaudreau is still a highly skilled player and, arguably, a top 50 player each season. There have been flashes of his former 99 point self this season, including a nine-game point streak to start his season. As a reminder, too, he plays on the Calgary Flames. This isn’t to say that the entire roster around Johnny is bad. Linemate Sean Monahan is a great compliment but is regressing in his production at a fast rate. Outside of those two, the team doesn’t have any other “elite” top players. A move for Gaudreau might benefit his overall statistics, especially to a young and budding team that Detroit already is showing to be in the near future.
Trading for Johnny Gaudreau won’t fix the team’s issues. They will still be a highly inexperienced, really disadvantaged team that likely would miss the playoffs by a wide margin after acquiring him. Gaudreau is still under contract for one more season, giving Stevie Y and the Red Wings one more season with the former Hobey Baker Award winner. With all the cap space they have going into this offseason, a hand full of young talent making the jump, the only thing they’re missing is a truly elite player to complement Dylan Larkin.
Making a move for next season isn’t a bad move at all. Acquiring Johnny Gaudreau could entice free agents to sign with Detroit. Having a reliable and proven one-two punch with -Larkin-Gaudreau would be a massive upgrade to the Red Wings first line. With Filip Zadina on the other wing too it’s got tons of production potential. Gaudreau brings an added element of speed to the team, which is something they’ll have lots of when their prospects make the jump. A complementary second line of Anthony Mantha, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Robby Fabbri would make a very solid top six. Under the right system as well this team could thrive in a weaker Atlantic Divison next season.
The Price for Johnny Gaudreau
Gaudreau is a big-ticket name that will likely come with a hefty price. Lucky for Detroit the Flames are in a position where gaining draft capital and building for next season could benefit them. Taking into consideration the importance of Gaudreau to Calgary as well it might be a hard sell for Detroit to make a move for. If there is any general manager to do it, however, it’s Steve Yzerman. Yzerman is the man that laid the foundation for the Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning. He built up that franchise for years and managed their cap so well, despite being constantly up against the limit. It’s exciting to think about what he will do with the room Detroit has.
Gaudreau is a star player and Calgary would likely want someone of similar potential or immediate skill to replace him. This could come in the form of a few parts. The first part could be a ton of draft picks. Detroit might be willing to give up a future first-round draft pick. They likely won’t be a lottery team come 2023, so that pick might be up for grabs in this deal. It might also come in the form of prospect Michael Rasmussen. He’s playing pretty well in the AHL so far and has even seen a few games of NHL action, hinting at his readiness at the top level. An abundance of other equivalent draft picks, two or three second-rounders for instance, and two or three B-level prospects would tip the scales more evenly. Is this a long-shot trade? Possibly, but the fit of a star like Gaudreau in a market and team that Detroit currently is is almost too ideal to not give a try this deadline.