Blue Jackets’ Potential Trade Partners: Detroit Red Wings

We have finally made it back to the United States!

Welcome to part eight of our Columbus Blue Jackets September series where we look at different teams around the league and see if there’s anything that could make them potential trading partners. In case you missed part seven, we discussed the Vancouver Canucks.

Life as a Red Wings Fan

Imagine being a Red Wings fan for just a second. They had one of the worst seasons ever. Very little went right from start to finish. Maybe, just maybe they could get a silver lining and land the top pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

As it turned out, not only did the Red Wings not win any of the three lotteries, they weren’t even the odds on favorite to win the top pick. That belonged to the Ottawa Senators thanks to holding two top-five spots. Even they couldn’t land that coveted top pick.

The Red Wings do own the fourth-overall pick in the upcoming October draft. So at least they have that going for them. More likely than not, GM Steve Yzerman will land a great player to add to their prospect pool.

Tyler Wright Steve Yzerman Kris Draper Detroit Red Wings
Steve Yzerman will land a great player fourth overall, but he has a lot of work to do with the Red Wings. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

While that is good news for the team as a whole, that doesn’t address their immediate need on the NHL roster. The needs in Detroit are many. They need as much help as they can get in futures whether it be high draft picks or prospects. They are projected to be one of the worst teams in the NHL again this season. They’re slowly heading in the right direction, but there’s a long way to go.

Now why would the Blue Jackets look to the Red Wings for possible deals? Perhaps there’s a player on an expiring deal that could help out now. Maybe there’s a player who has some term left but could bring back much needed assets the Red Wings would covet.

Is there a match to be made here? The short answer is, not likely. Never say never but there isn’t very much that sticks out where it would make sense for both sides. We’ll evaluate some scenarios but you’ll quickly see a pattern I think.

Current State of the Red Wings

Let’s take a quick look at some of the roster players on the Red Wings. They have some really good talent there. The problem is given where they are at on a rebuild, these players aren’t going anywhere.

Dylan Larkin would look great with the Blue Jackets. He’d reunite with his best friend Zach Werenski. But we can all put an end to this ever happening. Larkin is expected to become the next captain of the Red Wings. He’s staying put.

Dylan Larkin Detroit Red Wings
Dylan Larkin would be awesome in Columbus, but he’s likely destined to be the captain of the Red Wings. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Anthony Mantha is a great player but is an RFA and has injury history. He’s a big part of what’s going on and this contract is high on the Red Wings’ to-do list. Again no match with the Blue Jackets.

Tyler Bertuzzi like Mantha is an RFA. But given his role as a first-line winger, the Red Wings aren’t giving him up. The question here is what will that contract look like?

Robby Fabbri would be super interesting but we know the injury history. However his arrival in Detroit was a result of a good trade and he has paid that off in the early going. He’s staying.

From this point forward, things start to get less certain in terms of how some players fit into the Red Wings’ plans. Despite that, most of these situations don’t make sense for the Blue Jackets to pursue. Here’s a select rundown for you.

  • Frans Nielsen is 36 and has two years left at over $5 million per season. Pass.
  • Justin Abdelkader is a fourth liner at best who had zero goals in 49 games last season. Oh and he makes $4.25 million from now until 2023. Next.
  • Luke Glendening is a UFA after next season and counts just $1.8 million against the cap. The Blue Jackets already have players like him on the roster, good defensively. This is not an offensive upgrade. Therefore moving on.
  • Sam Gagner is 31 and a UFA. A reunion perhaps? He did good things on the power play before, right? Don’t think this happens though.
  • Darren Helm is somewhat interesting, but at 33 and a pending UFA, he doesn’t fit the forward need in terms of goal scoring. Like Glendening, Helm is decent defensively. This doesn’t match.
  • Most of the rest of the roster present no good opportunities for the Blue Jackets to pursue. Someone will say no to potential deals.

Some Matches Perhaps?

Now with all this said, there are two situations that I will at least keep in the back of my mind. I’m not saying these things will happen. I am saying that these are things that at least make some sense involving these two teams. We are trying to evaluate for matches after all, right?

The first one is Valtteri Filppula. At 36, he’s clearly on the back-nine of his career. He did however play the role of second-line center last season. The numbers were not good by any stretch. I’m not even suggesting to trade for him now. But I am curious about the trade deadline.

Filppula is a veteran presence and would give the Blue Jackets depth at center for a potential playoff run. I can’t imagine the cost being too high to acquire a pending UFA in that situation. If the price is within reason, you could do a lot worse than him. He could help the young players.

The second thing I wonder about is Brandon Dubinsky’s contract. In case you missed it, GM Jarmo Kekalainen did say recently that Dubinsky will likely not play again. While long-term injured reserve is an option, you wonder if they’re looking for a partner with cap space that could get an asset out of it.

The Red Wings do have cap space and it would only be for one season at $5.85 million. I do believe the Blue Jackets are looking to off load that contract. If it nets the Red Wings a good enough return, we can’t rule out that possibility.

One last thought on these two teams for now. The Red Wings are in the market for a goaltender. However I don’t expect them to look at the trade market to address that need. There’s ample supply on the free-agent market that they could choose from. So don’t expect a trade involving Joonas Korpisalo here. Thomas Greiss could end up in Detroit. Maybe even Jacob Markstrom goes there if the Canucks can’t get a deal done. Regardless, there are options the Red Wings have that won’t require them to give up anything. Like most everything else discussed, this is not a match.

In Conclusion

Given where these two teams are at in their situations, they don’t make for a good offseason match. Maybe things change a little by the trade deadline but we won’t know that until we get there. Don’t expect anything to happen between these two teams in the near term. There’s plenty of other fish in the sea to make trades happen.

Stay tuned for part nine as we head to the desert and visit the Arizona Coyotes. Spoiler: that team has major possibilities for the Blue Jackets.

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