Look, the Detroit Red Wings are in a jam, a defensive logjam. As a result, top defensive prospect Dennis Cholowski is now rounding out his game with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
UPDATE: The #RedWings today assigned forward Martin Frk and defenseman Dennis Cholowski to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 15, 2019
In all honesty, I’m fine with this, for a couple of reasons. First, Cholowski is going to be a really good NHL defenseman one day for the Red Wings but until then, he needs to improve certain aspects of his game. He was given a chance to do so at the NHL level, but couldn’t deliver. Instead, Cholowski is now in the minors, where he can slow things down, correct his mistakes with less pressure, build up his confidence, and apply his learnings with the Red Wings later on like Filip Hronek did earlier this season.
On top of that, the Red Wings should showcase Trevor Daley in an attempt to trade him at the deadline. It’s paramount that they deal the defender, and do so now rather than later.
Related: The Red Wings’ 2019 Deadline Trade Chips
Why Should the Red Wings Trade Daley?
In the 34 games Daley has played this season, it hasn’t been pretty for the blueliner. He’s only recorded two goals and six points and his Corsi-for percentage is a team-worst 41.72 percent. At five-on-five, Daley has a 48.72 goals-for percentage and -6.33 relative expected goals for percentage – neither of which are ideal. At this point, Daley is replaceable on Hockeytown’s ice.
The Red Wings will face another blue line logjam heading into the 2019-20 season. They have Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, Jonathan Ericsson, and potentially Daley under contract, plus Cholowski, Hronek, and Joe Hicketts in Grand Rapids pushing for—and deserving of—NHL ice time. Mix in the potential returns of Niklas Kronwall and Nick Jensen and there’s a lot of players competing for seven roster spots, and that doesn’t even include outside free agent targets, which may include Erik Karlsson.
General manager Ken Holland loves having depth heading into training camp, but there are a few things to consider. First, Cholowski and Hronek need to play full time with the Red Wings next season. Apart from a game here and there, serving as the seventh defenseman won’t aid their development. Second, Hicketts will not be exempt from waivers next season, meaning the Red Wings will need to keep him in Detroit or risk losing him for nothing.
Additionally, Green will play every night, as will DeKeyser and Ericsson – regardless of how you feel about that. For those keeping score at home, that leaves only one roster spot for a defenseman and it should not belong to Daley.
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Red Wings Best Served Trading Daley Now
As Holland has alluded to recently, trade deadline deals—and all trades, really—are dictated by supply and demand. At the deadline, the demand side can be inflated by contenders stockpiling for the playoffs and other teams needing to keep pace. Whereas at the NHL Entry Draft clubs have free agency on the horizon to add depth pieces like Daley. Do you really think Brian Boyle is worth a second-round pick in an unadulterated market?
Daley and his two Stanley Cup rings may be worth that much to a championship-hungry organization, especially if he’s brought in to play third-pairing minutes. His speed, ability to join the rush, and affordable cap hit make him an attractive option. His advanced stats may say otherwise, but conventional wisdom often goes out the window with dreams of winning a Stanley Cup.
It’s not like there’s a surplus of solid defensemen available, at least not from a selling perspective. Sure, Colton Parayko and a few blueliners from the Carolina Hurricanes have been mentioned in rumors, but only as a hockey trade. Apart from Daley, there’s not much out there that can be had for a mid-round draft pick to supplement an already strong defense.
Related: Worst Trades in Red Wings History
That’s why the Red Wings need to act now on Daley, rather than wait until the draft to make a move. At this point in his career, the defenseman’s value will never be higher, especially if he’s now healthy with no lingering issues.
Stats courtesy of Corsica.Hockey.