Oilers Should Avoid a Trade Deadline Deal With the Red Wings

The 2022 Trade Deadline is fast approaching and the Edmonton Oilers are looking around the league at possible trade partners and players that could fit their needs. Of the teams they are supposedly linked to, they should stay away from a deal with one of the league’s best general managers in Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings.

Related: Edmonton Oilers Trade Deadline History

Though there may be a player or two that could entice Ken Holland to want to deal with his old team again, recent history doesn’t favour him or the Oilers. This year’s moves have to make an impact and the team can’t waste more draft picks or prospects for underperforming deadline acquisitions.

Holland Has a History of Losing Trades With Yzerman

Holland has made four total trades with Yzerman in their history, two from the 2020 Trade Deadline as the general manager of the Oilers and two when he was with the Red Wings and Yzerman was still with the Tampa Bay Lightning. In none of the trades can I say that Holland came out on top after the dust has settled.

We’ll start with the two trades Holland made for the Oilers two deadlines ago. This trade deadline was one of the busiest in team history where they made four smaller deals to add help throughout the lineup before the playoff push. This didn’t go as planned and the Oilers could’ve had a different end result in the postseason and with the players if they contributed or were a fit.

The first of the deals saw the Oilers acquire Mike Green at 50 percent retained salary for Kyle Brodziak and a 2020 fourth-round pick that turned into Jan Bednar, a young goaltender in the Red Wings’ system. This move was essentially a waste of a fourth-round pick for the Oilers, and the team can’t be wasting those sort of assets. Draft picks could help in acquiring future players and Holland has hit on a number of late rounders thus far with Edmonton including Carter Savoie (100th overall), Tyler Tullio (126th overall), and Matvei Petrov (180th overall) in just three years of drafting. Green ended up suiting up for two games with the Oilers before retiring.

Steve Yzerman, Ken Holland
Ken Holland, former Detroit Red Wings senior vice president shakes hands with Steve Yzerman, executive vice president and general manager. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The other trade between the two teams was much more significant than the previous, as Holland tried to bring in an impactful scoring winger who could play alongside Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl since they were producing most of the offence with not much help. The Oilers acquired Andreas Athanasiou and Ryan Kuffner from the Red Wings in exchange for Sam Gagner, a 2020 second-round pick, and a 2021 second-round pick.

Gagner is still with the Red Wings producing and being a valued leader in the locker room for a young team, while both the second-round picks look to be solid future NHL players in Brock Faber and Aatu Raty. On the Oilers’ side, Holland hoped he was bringing over a goalscorer in Athanasiou, who broke out for 30 goals the previous season. Instead, he got one goal and one assist in nine regular season games and no points in four playoff games before being allowed to walk in free agency. Kuffner didn’t play an NHL game for the Oilers and hasn’t played in the NHL since before the trade.

If you thought that deal was bad for Holland, he made one even worse as a member of the Red Wings in an attempt to grab a defenceman before the deadline in 2012. The Red Wings were a part of a three-team deal that saw them acquire Kyle Quincey from the Colorado Avalanche, the Avalanche got Steve Downie, and Yzerman’s Lightning got Sebastien Piche and Detroit’s 2012 first-round pick that ended up being Andrei Vasilevskiy. Holland definitely ended up losing that deal, as Quincey was an average defender for four seasons with the team while Vasilevskiy has won two Stanley Cups, a Vezina Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy, and is a two-time All-Star (from ‘Smith: Why the Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy may become one of the all-time goalie greats’, The Athletic, Nov. 15, 2021).

The only other deal between the two teams came six days after the blunder by Holland, and he sent Mike Commodore to the Lightning for a 2013 seventh-round pick that turned into Saku Salminen who never played a game in the NHL. That was Commodore’s last season in the NHL and he played just 13 games for the Lightning. So, a very low-impact trade.

Better Options Than What Red Wings Could Offer

It is believed that everybody besides Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider could be available, but only expect top players to be headed to a new team if the offer is incredible and too good to turn down by the Red Wings. Many of the top players are most likely sticking around, as those two rookies have excelled the rebuild by a year or two with what kinds of players they already are.

The Red Wings don’t have many players, if any, who would fit in the Oilers’ lineup and fill a need. They could probably use a depth forward, but the original need of a big body who is physical has come and gone as Zack Kassian and Brad Malone are in the lineup. Kassian may still be an option to move to free up space, but if he doesn’t, his play since returning from injury suggests his tenacity and physicality is ramped back up to where it once was. If they were to upgrade here, the Red Wings’ closest player to fill that need would be Givani Smith, and that would be a sideways move at best to upgrade Malone. Kassian is a better player than Smith.

On defence, Marc Staal and Nick Leddy may be enticing, but Leddy isn’t the player he once was, so the Oilers should stay away from him and his large cap hit. Staal, on the other hand, has a no-movement clause and would have to waive it to be moved. His cap hit is affordable and he is the type of player who the Oilers could be looking to add for depth and experience. Is it worth it to add a player who may help for another mid-round pick going out when there are internal options already? I don’t think so by the way Philip Broberg has stepped up and made himself known in recent games.

Marc Staal Detroit Red Wings
Marc Staal, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The final possibility is if the Oilers were looking at a goaltender in Thomas Greiss to back up Mikko Koskinen. At this point Koskinen is the starter, so they will be possibly looking to add a 1B or a backup for him to close out the season and be able to start fresh in the summer. Greiss’ numbers aren’t appealing and neither is his cap hit. There’s no point in forcing a deal for a goaltender if a fair offer doesn’t present itself while the Oilers have Stuart Skinner in the minors as an option to back up.

History hasn’t been kind to Holland when dealing with Yzerman. In a season where the Oilers have to, at the very least, make the playoffs and ideally win a round or two, they can’t be giving up assets for nothing and bringing in players who don’t contribute. There are many more options that may be available to them, and even if nothing much is done before the deadline, Holland should be wary of dealing with general managers who tend to win every trade they make.

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