Red Wings’ (Way Too Early) Trade Pieces for 2022-23

By playing their eighth game of the 2022-23 season (a 2-1 win against the Minnesota Wild), the Detroit Red Wings are officially 10 percent of the way through the season. With a record of 4-2-2, things are looking up for the team from “Hockeytown”, especially when considering all the bodies that are outside of the lineup for various reasons.

As my colleague Tony Wolak noted recently, the Red Wings are due to make a trade in the somewhat near future. Defenseman Jake Walman should be returning to the lineup within the next two weeks. Winger Tyler Bertuzzi should be back by the end of November. Forward Robby Fabbri continues to make progress, though his return is still set for sometime in the new year. And all of that is without mentioning the possibility that Detroit will want to get a look at some of their prospects currently playing in the American Hockey League (AHL), including Simon Edvinsson and Jonatan Berggren.

Related: Red Wings Due for a Trade

After doing some simple roster math, it’s clear that Red Wings general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman will have to make a move sometime soon to make room for some of his recovering players. Here are a few players that could be on their way out, whether it’s in the near future or further down the road as Yzerman looks to add future assets to the team’s rebuild.

Adam Erne

Now in his fourth season with the Red Wings, Adam Erne is establishing a pattern of “one year off, one year on”. When he joined Detroit ahead of the 2019-20 season, he managed just two goals and five points through 56 games. In the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, he led the Red Wings with 11 goals, also recording nine assists in the process. Last season, he regressed to six goals and 19 points in 79 games. Despite the fact that many fans called for him to be cut from the team during the preseason, he has been a huge surprise this season, recording two goals and five points through the team’s first eight games.

Erne is in the final year of the two-year pact he signed with the Red Wings ahead of last season. When he’s on his game, he’s proven that he can be an effective bottom six player capable of providing depth production and a physical presence. Those types of players are usually sought after as the trade deadline approaches, but perhaps Yzerman and the Red Wings will want to strike while Erne is playing the best he has in almost two years. Another colleague of mine, Michael DeRosa, even penned an article looking at which teams may be interested in adding the 27-year-old winger.

Related: Red Wings: 3 Potential Landing Spots for Adam Erne

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The Red Wings originally acquired Erne from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a 2020 fourth round pick. If they can fetch a third round pick, let alone more, while also making way for some of their returning player and/or prospects, that would have to be seen as a success for Yzerman and the Red Wings.

Pius Suter

After averaging nearly 17 minutes of ice-time last season, Pius Suter is down to just over 12 minutes this season. With three points in seven games, a positive takeaways/giveaways ratio (3-1), and his ability to play down the middle and on the wing, he has been a useful source of depth in the early going, especially as the Red Wings have lost players to injuries and other reasons. That being said, he is the type of player that could probably find a bigger role with another team if given the opportunity.

With 66 points through 144 career games, it’s clear that Suter is capable of producing, though not at an elite level. He can play on the penalty kill, and he plays a game that compliments his linemates whether they’re a scoring unit or a checking one. That versatility is cause for a good argument that Detroit should keep him around rather than move him out. In all honesty, his status as a trade piece is a prime example of how the Red Wings’ lineup has evolved since the end of last season.

With Dylan Larkin, Andrew Copp, and Michael Rasmussen locked-in down the middle, Suter likely has to play on the wing to hold down a spot in the Red Wings’ lineup. Unfortunately, there aren’t many winger spots available, and that will only become even more true once Fabbri and Jakub Vrana (hopefully) rejoin the lineup. This is a classic case of a good player being blocked out by his team’s depth; the Red Wings would do right by themselves and Suter if they can find him some playing time somewhere else.

Jordan Oesterle/Robert Hägg

As has already been mentioned, Walman will be joining the Red Wings’ lineup soon…like really soon. This won’t affect the Red Wings right away in terms of their need to make a move. To make room for him, they can simply send Givani Smith or Matt Luff back down to the AHL, but both of those players are forwards. While it’s never a bad thing to have a ton of depth on the blue line, the fact of the matter is that this situation isn’t just about Walman; it’s about Edvinsson and Mark Pysyk as well.

Pysyk should be back around the same time as Fabbri, and Edvinsson has six points in six games while looking a step ahead of most players in the AHL. In order to make room for Walman, Pysyk and (eventually) Edvinsson, depth defensemen Jordan Oesterle and Robert Hägg could find themselves heading elsewhere.

Robert Hagg Detroit Red Wings
Robert Hagg, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Both Oesterle and Hägg have just this season on their contracts, and both could be serviceable depth defensemen in the right situation. The Red Wings likely wouldn’t look for much in return; either a late-round pick or a minor-league player to help the cause in the AHL would likely get a deal done. If there’s one area of the Red Wings’ roster that is going to force a deal to be made, it’s the blue line.

Joe Veleno

For some of the same reasons as Suter, Joe Veleno finds himself on this list. The 22-year-old is far from a finished product at the NHL level, and he has endeared himself to some thanks to his demeanor on and off the ice, but he’s running out of real estate in terms of where he fits in the Red Wings’ lineup moving forward.

After averaging over 13 minutes in ice-time last season (66 games), he’s averaging just 11:53 through seven games this season – a small sample size for sure, but it does suggest that he’s not a player that Detroit’s coaching staff is particularly enamored with. While he spent some time on the wing recently, he was drafted as a center and that’s what the organization has said they would like to develop him as. As I wrote in the Suter section, those center spots are hard to come by right now, and it’s only going to get harder with Marco Kasper (the Red Wings’ top center prospect) waiting in the wings.

Veleno is also different from the other players on this list as he’s still a young player with potential. This gives Detroit options if they do decide to move on from him in the near future. They could trade him for a pick or two, they could swap him for another player that is in a similar boat with another team, or they could include him in a trade package if Yzerman decides to reel in a big fish in the trade market. Regardless of what they ultimately decide, if Veleno is going to become anything more than a bottom six center at the NHL level, he needs more ice-time than the 11 minutes he’s getting right now.

Filip Zadina

Last but not least is the most polarizing player on the Red Wings’ roster. While it is still early on in the 2022-23 season, the curse that haunted Filip Zadina throughout last season seems to have followed him into this one. While his underlying numbers are spectacular, the soon-to-be 23-year-old winger has yet to produce a single point for the Red Wings this season. Those glowing analytics make him a player that you would hate to see go, but it is entirely possible that he needs a change of scenery to finally put it all together and start producing on a consistent basis.

The trick in setting up a trade involving Zadina is the value coming back. There is no question that a move right now would be selling low on the former first-round pick, but how low is too low? Despite what comments on social media and articles like this one will say, the Red Wings are not going to trade this player for a “bag of pucks.”

Bad asset management? Yes. Good joke? No.

With a prospect like Berggren chomping at the bit to make his NHL debut, as well as prospects like Kasper, Carter Mazur and Cross Hanas factoring in possibly as soon as next season, there is simply no room for the Red Wings to accommodate a player that can’t seem to produce even if his life depended on it. Perhaps Zadina could find his way into a trade package alongside Veleno in a deal that fetches Detroit a more proven talent.

Trade Market Is Already Active

Usually articles like this are a bit facetious. Just because a player is a “trade piece” does not mean that a trade is going to go down at any minute. However, there are reasons to believe a move could be right around the corner.

First, we’ve seen four deals completed since Oct. 26 (two of them involving the Chicago Blackhawks). While three of the four were deals involving minor-leaguers and fringe NHLers, it just goes to show that NHL GMs are already looking at trade options on the market. Yzerman is no stranger to making early deals; in his first season as the Red Wings’ GM, he made five trades before the new year, including the deal that brought Fabbri to Detroit.

Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings General Manager
Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings General Manager (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Second, it’s one thing to want to make a move; it’s a different thing to need to make a move. As the Red Wings’ roster returns to full health, they will need to make a move because there are too many players and not enough roster spots. When you know a deal will have to be made soon, it’s best to have a good idea of which players could be on the table. The Red Wings have one of the most active GMs in the league, so you know he likely has his finger on the pulse of what’s out there and which of his players are sought after.

It may not be tomorrow, it may not even be next week, but the Red Wings are bound to make a move eventually. Chances are that the move will involve one of the players listed here.

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