The Detroit Red Wings have made progress in 2021-22 after struggling for the last five years. They got off to a start that was an improvement over the last few seasons as they were in the top three in the Atlantic Division standings earlier in the year. The team has two rookies in the running to win the Calder Trophy in Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider that have contributed to a better year for the franchise.
However, the team has dropped to fifth place in the Atlantic with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Boston Bruins improving their play since the first two months of the season. The Red Wings are nine points behind the Bruins for the second spot in the wild-card standings at the All-Star break. They are still in the running for the postseason and could qualify with a good second half of the year.
If the Red Wings fall further out of the playoff race, they have some players who could be of interest to other teams who are in better positions to qualify for the postseason. The New York Rangers appear to be one of the teams with a good chance of advancing to the playoffs. Here are three Rangers’ trade targets on the Red Wings.
The 12-year defenseman was traded last offseason from the New York Islanders to the Red Wings for Richard Panik and a second-round pick in the 2021 draft. Nick Leddy’s offensive numbers have dropped in 44 games played this year as he has only one goal and 11 assists. It appears he is not a good fit with the organization after having more productive years during his seven seasons with the Islanders.
Leddy would do better on a team where he does not need to be one of the top two defensemen. Earlier in his career, he was a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, who were an elite NHL franchise at the time he was on the roster. Due to his experience, he is worth taking a chance on for a team that already has depth at the defensive position.
The veteran defenseman is in the last year of his contract with an average annual value (AAV) of $5.5 million. Leddy will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) in the offseason. There is a good chance he will be a rental player for a playoff team if he is acquired from the Red Wings by the trade deadline.
He could be paired with one of the younger defensemen on the Rangers such as Braden Schneider and would provide the franchise with another veteran at the position. If the Blueshirts have injuries on defense by the March 21 deadline, Leddy could be a player worth acquiring if the Rangers need depth players on the blue line. He would be an ideal fit on the Rangers’ third defensive pair.
Vladislav Namestnikov was a member of the Rangers after being acquired by the Lightning during the 2017-18 season. He spent the 2018-19 year with the Blueshirts before being traded to the Ottawa Senators during 2019-20. During his only complete year with the Rangers, he played in 78 games and had 11 goals and 20 assists.
Namestnikov has 12 goals and 10 assists in 47 games during 2021-22. He would provide another option at forward for the Rangers and would be another rental player for a playoff team if he is acquired by the deadline. He is in the last year of his contract in which he has a $2 million AAV and will be a UFA this offseason.
He would be an option to put at either wing position or at center. The Rangers have a need for an addition at the right-wing position since they traded Pavel Buchnevich last offseason. If president/general manager (GM) Chris Drury does not trade for a big name at the deadline, he could look at options that complement their star players.
The sixth-year defenseman has been on injured reserve (IR) since undergoing wrist surgery for an injury he sustained back in November. Troy Stecher is in the last year of his contract in which he has a $1.7 million AAV before he becomes a UFA. He could be worth inquiring about to add to the defensive depth if he is not a part of the Red Wings’ future plans.
During Stecher’s return to practice in a non-contact jersey toward the end of January, head coach Jeff Blashill said about having the defenseman back, “It just adds more accountability when you have another guy that is there and can certainly step in and do anyone’s job. When you have depth on your roster, for him personally, it’s hard to be out that long. It was good to see him out there, he is a competitive person that wants to win and do it right, and can add to any lineup in the league. He’s a good player” (from ‘Red Wings’ Jakub Vrana, Troy Stecher taking steps toward eventual return, The Detroit News, 1/27/22).
Stecher would have more trade interest than pending UFA Danny DeKeyser who has not played well for the Red Wings and has been a healthy scratch occasionally this year. The Blueshirts can add depth to their defense. They are in a position if they sustain an injury to a key defenseman down the stretch such as in the case of Adam Fox currently. While the former Norris Trophy winner is not expected to be out long term with an upper-body injury, having plenty of capable options at a position is not a bad idea.
It remains to be seen how active the Red Wings will be by the trade deadline given that they do not have many pending UFAs. The Rangers will look to acquire a forward at the right-wing position or a defenseman who will be put on the third pairing. The Red Wings have some players who could add to the depth of the Blueshirts if Drury prefers to not make any major acquisitions by March 21.