When the Detroit Red Wings traded defenseman Nick Jensen to the Washington Capitals last season, the received two pieces: a 2020 second-round pick and defenseman Madison Bowey.
Bowey, a second-round pick in the 2013 Draft, had struggled to maintain a spot on the Capitals’ roster, and the move to Detroit with the Red Wings looked to provide him with an opportunity.
Since then, Bowey has played 61 games with the Red Wings, recording four goals and 19 points during that time (from ‘Red Wings’ Madison Bowey relieved that stick to the eye didn’t cause serious injury,’ Detroit News, 02/10/2020). This season, Bowey is tied for eighth in team scoring and second among defenseman, trailing only Filip Hronek.
All in all, 61 games isn’t the biggest sample size, but Bowey’s production is encouraging given the state of the Red Wings. Bowey has seen power-play time with the Red Wings this season, though he has only accumulated a single point during those opportunities. He’s a more offensively-inclined defenseman, so using him in those situations hasn’t been a bad idea.
But there’s plenty more reasons why the team should continue to invest time into Bowey.
Bridge the Gap
Bowey will turn 25 years old in April. He fits the age profile of a team trying to build with youth like the Red Wings. He’s not an aging veteran blocking a younger player from breaking the lineup. Instead, he provides youthful competition among the organization’s defensemen.
By the time the team’s top defensive prospects have emerged as legitimate NHL players, Bowey will either have established himself as a player the Red Wings keep, or he’ll become easy trade bait. The Red Wings have time to kill, and Bowey is the type of player that can bridge that gap.
Keep It Cheap
Bowey is slated to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, meaning that the Red Wings will retain his negotiating rights once his contract expires. His current contract pays him just $1 million, and he shouldn’t cost much more to extend.
The Red Wings could qualify Bowey and attempt to keep him on a one-year deal. This would likely drive down the overall cost and give the team flexibility in terms of roster management. After years of being confined by long, expensive contracts, this off-season represents the first opportunity for salary cap relief for the Red Wings. The team should retain players like Bowey who produce on cheaper deals.
Where does Bowey fit in with the Red Wings’ future? Looking ahead, the Red Wings only have Filip Hronek, Danny DeKeyser and Patrik Nemeth locked up on defense beyond this season (excluding prospects playing in various other leagues.) Bowey can certainly hold down one of those four open spots, granted the team doesn’t return any players on expiring deals.
Beyond 2020-21, it entirely depends on the development of Bowey and others in the organization, as well as any moves general manager Steve Yzerman might make (from ‘Red Wings’ Mike Green not focusing on rumors as trade deadline approaches,’ Detroit News, 02/11/2020). Bowey fits in as an offensive-minded defenseman who makes his living on the bottom pairing. Given the wasteland that is the Red Wings’ defensive corps right now, there is definitely room for Bowey to continue to strut his stuff.
However, the goal for the Red Wings is to accumulate enough good defensemen that players like Bowey become fringe players at best. While the Red Wings work at accomplishing that goal, Bowey should continue to lace up the skates in Detroit. He’s not a game-changer, but he’s the type of player who bridges the gap between this defense and the defense of tomorrow.
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