To say the Detroit Red Wings are off to a rough start is an understatement.
The team is near the bottom of the NHL standings, battling the Ottawa Senators, Los Angeles Kings, and the Minnesota Wild for last place. While they are in the midst of a rebuild, the best way to prepare for the future is by obtaining assets that will benefit them down the road. Rebuilding teams will typically trade players on expiring contracts or team-friendly deals to secure draft picks and prospects who may develop into key pieces of the team’s future.
The Red Wings are in a precarious position. Their veteran core is either too inconsistent or too-often injured to warrant any high returns like Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar yielded in the past. Barring a blockbuster deal, it’s unlikely that any young players like Anthony Mantha or Tyler Bertuzzi will bid farewell to the team. If general manager Steve Yzerman is unwilling to part with the young core of Dylan Larkin, Mantha, and Bertuzzi, he may consider alternative options.
The official NHL Trade Deadline is on Feb. 24, 2020. Between now and then, Yzerman may consider trading the following players:
Glendening is one of the team’s premier depth players. Renowned for his elite faceoff ability and versatility on the penalty kill, he’s been an asset for the Red Wings since the moment he donned his sweater. His unparalleled work ethic has set him apart from the average player, earning him a position as an alternate captain this season. He’s an excellent role model on and off the ice and is highly regarded for his positive attitude through any situation. While he only has three points in 12 games, his role centers around his all-situations style of play; a huge boon for the Red Wings whenever he sets foot on the ice.
If Yzerman decides to trade Glendening, it’s likely that he would move to a team like the Buffalo Sabres, who are actively seeking depth players to help organize their scoring threats. While Glendening isn’t an offense-first player, his ability to work on the defensive end can open up scoring opportunities for his teammates, serving as an excellent depth option for a team pushing for the playoffs. The Red Wings would likely ask for a return of a middle to higher-tier prospect or a middle-round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Glendening is the type of player who makes his presence known; he’d be a welcome addition to any team looking for more locker room cohesion.
At 34 years old, Green is still able to show his skill as one of the Red Wings’ best defensemen. When he isn’t injured, he shows glimpses of the player who once scored back-to-back 70-plus point seasons. He’s remarkably consistent on the power play, generating the majority of his points from the blue line during odd-man rushes. Additionally, his years of experience can work wonders in mentoring any contending team’s younger defensive core. He’ll be able to teach another team the do’s and don’ts of great offensive play as a defenseman.
Green will be the hardest player to trade on this list. With his injury history and worries about his age, many teams will opt to pass on the potential risk in favor of safer options. Having said that, trading Green isn’t out of the realm of possibility — especially with a general manager like Yzerman. If Green is traded, he will likely net anywhere from a third-round pick to a middle-tier prospect. His best years are behind him in terms of skill, but he can still serve as an excellent depth defenseman and power-play threat on a team looking to jump-start their offense. A team like the Calgary Flames may bite in hopes that Green’s ability will spark their offense.
With players like Robby Fabbri excelling at their roles and prospects like Michael Rasmussen and Filip Zadina showing their stuff, there’s an odd-man out situation developing in Detroit. Hirose, a free agent from Michigan State signed last year, seems to be struggling to adjust to the team’s rocky start. Last season, he secured a spot with seven points in 10 games; this year, he has only six in 19. While not a bad player by any means, Yzerman will have his work cut out for him if the right team approaches him with the right offer.
Hirose, at 23 years old, still has his best years ahead of him. If a player like Zadina or Rasmussen manage to wrest his position from him, he is likely to find himself on the trade block. His quick-thinking style would be a huge asset to a team like the Edmonton Oilers, who are in the market for young, high-flying wingers who can excel alongside superstar Connor McDavid. Additionally, Oilers general manager (and former Red Wings manager) Ken Holland was the one who signed Hirose to his NHL contract in the first place. Hirose would likely be traded for a defensive prospect or a second-round pick at best. This, of course, isn’t to say that Hirose doesn’t have what it takes to make it on the Red Wings’ roster — it’s more of a testament to his ability to succeed within the right system.
The high-flying forward is coming off his strongest season yet, knotting 30 goals and 54 points in the 2018-19 season. He’s agile, slick, and a force to be reckoned with whenever he sets foot on the ice. It might be hard to imagine Athanasiou going to another team, but Yzerman is the type of general manager who considers every possible outcome. If the right offer presents itself, he may have no choice but to test the waters for a potentially big trade.
Athanasiou, a restricted free agent (RFA), is set to undergo contract negotiations after the 2019-20 season. With his history of contract holdouts and his slow start to the season, it might do Yzerman good to try the wait-and-see approach to make his next decision. Athanasiou would likely net a very high pick or a series of prospects if traded. Having said that, his departure may do more harm than good; his offensive skill set is rare, and his play style evokes highlight-reel worthy goals at almost every turn. Yzerman likely has a plan and, if that plan involves trading Athanasiou, he will likely wait until the perfect offer comes along to pull the trigger.
Who do you think will be traded before the deadline? What do you see coming back in return?