Some of the most shocking moments on the draft floor have come not from which players are selected in which order, but from which players and picks exchange hands in draft day trades. Some moves are bigger than others, however. For every time we get a move like when goaltender Cory Schneider was traded by the Vancouver Canucks to the New Jersey Devils for the ninth pick in the 2013 draft, we get moves like when the Detroit Red Wings traded picks 23, 48 and 138 in last year’s draft to the Dallas Stars in exchange for the 15th pick in the same draft. These types of moves come in all shapes and sizes, and they all have their own way of shaping a team’s future.
Related: Red Wings 2022 Draft Coverage
The Red Wings enter the 2022 draft with the eighth overall selection. While top-10 picks always carry extra value, their pick sits in a spot where there is an argument both for trading up, maybe into the top-five, as well as for trading back and gaining additional assets in the process. With an already healthy prospect pool and a need for impact players sooner rather than later, could the Red Wings once again make a move in the first round of the draft?
Red Wings’ Case to Trade Up
The case for trading up begins and ends with the Red Wings’ need for high-end prospects. Despite their rebuild going on since before Steve Yzerman taking over as general manager (GM), the Red Wings have yet to pick higher than fourth overall in the first round. To be fair, they still seem to have found success in the draft despite having no lottery luck, but after watching the New York Rangers make the Eastern Conference Final this year after drafting second overall in 2019 and first overall in 2020, it’s fair to suggest that some people inside and outside of the organization may be growing impatient with the slow and steady pace of the Detroit’s rebuild.
Perhaps the best way to add jet fuel into this rebuild is to trade up and grab one of the best prospects in this draft class.
It takes two to tango, though. It’s easy to say the Red Wings might be interested in trading up, but there has to be a team that holds one of those seven picks ahead of Detroit’s that is willing to move their pick. Luckily, there are two confirmed teams that might be willing to do business with the Red Wings.
Since the lottery awarded the New Jersey Devils the second pick in this year’s draft, reports almost immediately surfaced that Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald would be willing to move the pick in the right deal. With young players such as Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier and Dawson Mercer already in place up front, as well as top defensive prospect Luke Hughes set to play another season at the University of Michigan, the Devils need an impact player already in the NHL just as much, if not more than another top prospect. Make no mistake though: the second overall pick in any draft will not come cheap, and any team in pursuit of it will have to understand that they are one of many teams putting in their best offers for the pick.
So what would it cost the Red Wings to acquire the second overall pick? Perhaps a package that includes Filip Zadina, Filip Hronek and the eighth pick could pique Fitzgerald’s interest. However, if I were in Fitzgerald’s shoes, the conversation would mostly revolve around winger Jakub Vrana. The Czech winger has showed his scoring prowess since joining the Red Wings, and he’s under contract for the next two seasons. He’s the exact type of player they should be looking to acquire if they do move the second pick. Moving Vrana would be a tough pill to swallow for Red Wings fans, but there’s already a ton of chatter going on about the Devils trading the pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for forward Alex DeBrincat, a player that is two years younger than Vrana and has already scored 63 more goals than the Red Wings forward.
Like I said, that second pick won’t come cheaply.
Another team that is reportedly willing to move their pick is the Ottawa Senators. The Senators hold the seventh pick, and while that is just one spot ahead of the Red Wings’ pick, the prospect of picking two players in a row in the top-10 of this year’s draft is an enticing thought. Just like the Devils, the Senators will be looking to add a good, young player that can help their team right now, though the price surely won’t be as astronomical as what the Devils are expected to demand.
That being said, the Senators are in a similar spot as the Devils as they already have a solid group of forwards and defensemen. In any move that would see Ottawa move the seventh pick, they would be moving it for a player that can either be a top six forward or a top four defenseman for the foreseeable future. That’s why the Red Wings would probably be offering the same collection of players to the Senators in any hypothetical move to acquire the seventh pick. To put this into perspective, a common player mentioned that could pique the Senators interest is Minnesota Wild forward Kevin Fiala, a 25-year-old forward who had 85 points this season.
Perhaps a major hiccup in any deal involving the Red Wings and the Senators is that they are divisional rivals whose rebuilds are essentially on the same timeline. Would the Red Wings be willing to stomach giving the Senators a boost even if it means adding another high-end prospect in this year’s draft? Furthermore, would Ottawa be willing to move a top-10 pick to a divisional rival?
Another team to keep an eye on in regards to trading up would be the Philadelphia Flyers, who currently hold the fifth overall pick. While they had a rough 2021-22 season, they were heavily weighed-down by injuries to some of their best players throughout the season, and it seems like GM Chuck Fletcher would rather go the route of retooling rather than a full-scale rebuild. While there hasn’t been a clear indication that the fifth pick is available, the right offer would surely make him consider it at least.
Red Wings’ Case for Trading Back
This is the kind of draft where scouts and GMs will have their favorites of the bunch. If those players are off the board when it’s time to make a pick, it may be best to go with a scattershot approach and take quantity over quality.
For example, if the Red Wings aren’t keen on who is available at eighth overall, could the Winnipeg Jets, who hold picks 14 and 30 in the first round, be interested in moving up into the top 10? What about the Buffalo Sabres who, besides the ninth pick, also hold picks 16 and 28 in the first round? Make no mistake: there is plenty of talent to be had in the first round of this year’s draft, and having more than one pick in that round would undoubtedly help stock the cupboards in Detroit.
Wild Card: Red Wings Trade for Immediate Help
While this may be the most unlikely option for the Red Wings when it comes to trading their first round pick, it cannot be understated how much good, young talent is set to be on the market this offseason.
As has already been mentioned, the Blackhawks are reportedly going to move DeBrincat within the next year; this isn’t an “if” situation, it’s a “when”. For Red Wings fans, it would be a dream to see the Farmington Hills, Michigan-native wear the winged wheel, but the Red Wings, or any other team for that matter, will not be able to get him for pennies on the dollar. 24-year-olds with two 40-goal seasons under their belt almost never become available, so when they do, the team trading that player should expect a king’s ransom in return. The Red Wings would have to move more than just the eighth pick to get their hands on this player, but putting a top-10 pick on the table will definitely get a conversation going with Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidsson.
Related: Blackhawks’ Market for DeBrincat Heating Up with 4 Teams Interested
There is also the matter of Arizona Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun, who dominated the rumor mill this season after reports came out that the desert dogs were gauging the market on the 24-year-old defender. One of the Red Wings’ biggest needs this offseason is a top-four, left-handed defenseman, and this is a player that could be that for the better part of a decade in Detroit. The eighth pick likely doesn’t get the deal done but, just like with DeBrincat, it would at least get the conversation going.
Whether the Red Wings move their pick or not, the fact remains that Yzerman has an opportunity to shape this team for the foreseeable future with what he does at the 2022 draft. There will be plenty of prospects worth picking before, at, and after pick eight, and there are also plenty of players already in the NHL worth kicking tires on.
We’ve already been surprised a couple times by Yzerman’s moves on the draft floor since he took over in the Spring of 2019 – could we be in store for his biggest surprise yet?