This article comes bearing good news: the offseason is almost over. The preseason begins September 29th, when the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks square off for the first time since April. The return of hockey also means the deluge of offseason content will come to an end. That means no more retrospective articles about previous Cup wins, no more filler pieces, and, of course, no more vegetable articles.
Unfortunately, we still have a few weeks left until the offseason comes to an end. While today’s topic may not be news, it’s certainly something to think about. With that in mind, it’s time to touch on topic fans are often too familiar with. That being this season’s Red Wings trade candidates.
Red Wings 2021-22 Trade Candidates
Watching players part ways with your organization can offer mixed reactions. Some cheer, while others jeer. The last few years in Detroit have been a revolving door for players. From the departure of long-term Red Wing Anthony Mantha to the five games Dmytro Timashov played, turnover has been the name of the game in Hockeytown. It’s been hard for fans to stay attached to players. There’s no telling when general manager Steve Yzerman may pull the trigger on, say, a Tyler Bertuzzi trade. This year’s pending crop of free agents and tradeable players is better than it’s been in years.
With that said, these are who I believe are the most likely Red Wings’ trade candidates:
Namestnikov is somewhat of a journeyman in the NHL. In his eight-year career, he’s played for five teams — and it’s likely he’ll make it six this season. From the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Ottawa Senators, he’s experienced both excitement and agony. He’s a smart centre capable of injecting any lineup with depth offence. Namestnikov is no stranger to moving amidst a trade. In fact, in 2019-20, he was traded twice, playing for the New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, and Colorado Avalanche. For even more incentive, the Red Wings can retain half of his $2 million salary, giving a contender a consistent, cost-effective bottom-six centre. What’s not to love?
The Red Wings may not value Stecher as much as the fanbase does. Stecher was left exposed in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft and was scratched several times last season by head coach Jeff Blashill. This doesn’t discredit Stecher by any means, though. He was one of the Red Wings’ most effective defencemen on the ice last season. In fact, he was so efficient at his role that he inflated Marc Staal‘s advanced stats to above-average levels.
A bottom-three defenceman like Stecher might be an extremely tantalizing trade candidate for a would-be contender. At $1.7 million, Stecher can play an affordable role on the second or third pairing on just about any roster in the NHL. The only question would be whether his perceived value affects his price tag come trade time. Our gut tells us fans may be disappointed with the return.
It might be strange to see Leddy on this list. After all, the Red Wings just traded a 2021 2nd round pick for him — a pick that was used on Aatu Raty, nonetheless. Why trade an asset so quickly after acquiring it? The answer may become more clear as the season evolves. It will entirely depend on how he is deployed throughout the 2021-22 season. Last year was one of Leddy’s worst in recent memories. He didn’t live up to the heavy minutes he played with the New York Islanders and many fans worry that he may have lost a step.
It appears the Red Wings plan on pairing Leddy with a player like Moritz Seider as a role model. If he manages to surpass expectations and have a Renaissance season, the team may find a way to recoup the assets they spent with a little added interest. Fortunately, the Red Wings will still have him around to mentor for at least a year. The question remains whether that mentorship will pan out more than Raty will for the Islanders.
Greiss is the most unrealistic of the four trade candidates mentioned. Of all the positions in the NHL, the least frequently traded is the goaltender. This is of course due to their unpredictability. All it takes is a hot goaltender to get your team going in the playoffs. Anton Khudobin‘s 2019-20 Cup run is a perfect example of such a feat. With that said, it’s hard to gauge when a goaltender is going to get a hot start. The risk often outweighs the reward for teams, leading to very little action on the trade front for netminders.
Still, could a trade for Greiss be made? Perhaps. After an egregious start to the 2020-21 season, Greiss pulled it together near the end with quite a few strong starts. This may inspire a team to take a closer look. Having said that, it’s hard to justify trading for a $3.6 million backup or de facto starting goaltender. Even with salary retained, a goaltending trade might be more risk than reward in a league as conservative as the NHL. Still, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that a trade may happen. Time will tell the tale for Thomas.
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