It was recently revealed that veteran defenseman Trevor Daley has asked general manager Steve Yzerman for a trade from the Detroit Red Wings. (from ‘Report: Trevor Daley open to trade to Stanley Cup contender,’ Detroit News, 01/23/2020) Given the team’s current spot in the standings, Daley would like to finish out the season with a contender. Realistically, he’s not the only one.
What is the market for a 36-year-old defenseman with just four points in 26 games? Daley has been far from a bright spot on the Red Wings’ defense this season and last, despite having a decent inaugural season in Detroit. Surely, teams aren’t chomping at the bit to add Daley to their blue line, right?
Teams in the playoff hunt are always on the lookout for reasonably priced depth at the trade deadline. The injury bug is merciless, and can hit hard and often during a playoff run. That’s why there’s sure to be a few suitors for the veteran of 15 seasons.
Who are these teams, and what can the Red Wings expect in return for Daley?
Daley spent the first 11 years of his career with the Dallas Stars, collecting 231 points along the way, and establishing himself as a competent two-way defender in the NHL. He’s definitely not the first name you think of when the topic of “Stars history” comes up, but he’s on the list.
To this point, the Stars have endured a crazy season that saw them host the Winter Classic less than a month after they parted ways with head coach Jim Montgomery. That being said, the Stars have successfully held on to a playoff spot for most of the season, currently sitting third in the Central Division.
Adding Daley would give the team a familiar face that could provide value as a seventh defenseman, or even contribute on the team’s bottom pairing. It’s the exact kind of addition a team makes when they want to add injury-insurance before a playoff run.
The Stars are tight against the salary cap, so they’ll need the Red Wings to retain some salary for the conversation to even begin. The Red Wings could also take on the dead contract of Martin Hanzal as a way of relieving the Stars’ salary cap. In return, the Red Wings would likely receive the Stars’ fifth-round pick with conditions that could raise it to a fourth.
Another team that Daley has history with — the Penguins — will look to add to ensure a lengthy playoff run. With the clock ticking louder and louder on Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford will investigate all avenues to strengthen his roster.
Daley was with the Penguins during their back-to-back championship seasons in 2016 and 2017. When he’s at his best, Daley plays a north-south game that perfectly fits in with what head coach Mike Sullivan wants his Penguins to do. If healthy, Daley could probably fit in the lineup as soon as he arrives.
The Penguins aren’t as pressed against the cap as Dallas is, and therefore won’t need to do as many cap-acrobatics to get a deal done. While the Red Wings will still need to retain some salary, the Penguins would likely get off cheaper than Dallas because of their cap situation. Something along the lines of a sixth-round pick that could become a fifth-round pick seems right.
There’s a few connections here that make this work. The first and the biggest is general manager Ken Holland, who is the man that signed Daley to his current deal with the Red Wings. He clearly likes the player, and could potentially be interested in bringing him up north to his new team.
The second connection is head coach Dave Tippett, who coached Daley in Dallas with the Stars for the first five years of Daley’s career. Given the Oilers’ defensive unit contains plenty of youth with only one or two veterans, Tippett and Holland could both jump at the idea of adding a guy with Daley’s resume to the lineup.
The variable that is unique to the Oilers here is that they aren’t exactly locked into a playoff spot. A mere point separates first place from fifth place in the Pacific Division. Though the Oilers sit in second place right now, there’s absolutely no room for error, meaning they are an extended losing streak away from being sellers at the deadline.
If the Oilers were to add Daley (and he were to sign-off on the trade) Holland may find it beneficial to deal from next year’s pool of draft picks rather than this year’s. When we’re talking about mid- to low-round picks, the difference in value isn’t too substantial, but Holland may still opt to hoard this year’s collection of picks. Perhaps a deal for the Oiler’s 2021 sixth-round pick with conditions that elevate it to a fourth-round pick would do the trick.
There Are Others
The list of teams that could add Daley is not limited to these three teams. The Washington Capitals could be a fit, as could Steve Yzerman’s former employer, the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, Daley isn’t likely to be at the top of any of these teams’ wishlist come the end of February.
With an asset like Daley, the Red Wings need to pray for good health and good production between now and the deadline. Anything less will tank their ability to gather a future asset in return for the aging defender. However, no matter what the future holds for Daley, the biggest asset the Red Wings will gather with his exit will be cap space — something the team will start gathering a lot of very soon — and the open spot on the roster for a younger player to slide into.