As we get closer to the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline, it’s becoming more and more apparent that the Detroit Red Wings will be sellers. While their record indicates that playoffs are still a possibility—albeit an unlikely one—another year committed to the rebuild will do the franchise some good down the road. Selling at the deadline is a great way to aid that process.
Among the Red Wings players rumored to be on the trading block, All-Star blueliner Mike Green is the most likely to go. No less than half-a-dozen teams have been connected to the veteran defenseman already and surely more will kick tires with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland before long. It should be noted that Green has a no-trade clause and will need to approve any trade before the deal can be completed.
In this week’s edition of The Grind Line, The Hockey Writers’ Red Wings coverage team shares their predictions for where Green will land and what Detroit can expect to receive in return for the coveted defenseman. Enjoy!
Tony Wolak: Los Angeles Kings
Full Trade: Detroit trades Mike Green to Los Angeles for a 2018 first-round pick and a conditional 2019 third-round pick. (If Green re-signs with Los Angeles, Detroit receives their 2019 3rd round pick. If not, then Detroit does not receive additional compensation. Detroit also retains 50% of Green’s 2017-18 salary.)
Like a Pavlovian experiment, every time Green records a point—especially on the power play—Red Wings fans begin to salivate. Each point and solid game produced by the blueliner adds to his trade value, which bodes well for Detroit’s continued rebuild.
Los Angeles could use a defenseman of Green’s nature. They rely heavily on Drew Doughty, Derek Forbort, Alec Martinez, and Jake Muzzin, but are relatively unproven after those four. Nothing against Christian Folin, Kevin Gravel, or Paul LaDue – they’re quality blueliners for the Kings. Los Angeles would just benefit from Green’s veteran influence and offensive prowess once the playoffs roll around. Teams can’t have enough defensive depth once in the postseason – just look at Pittsburgh and Nashville’s defensemen from last year’s Stanley Cup Finals.
Ideally, the Red Wings should be targeting teams who are on the cusp of making the playoffs when looking for a Green suitor. In the off-chance they miss out on a postseason berth, then the acquired draft pick would likely fall in the 13-15 range, whereas trading Green to the eventual Stanley Cup champion would result in the 31st-overall pick coming Detroit’s way. Teams like the Kings, New York Rangers and Colorado Avalanche fit the description.
Related: State of the Red Wings Rebuild
If Los Angeles acquires a forward like Patrick Maroon to play alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, Detroit could also take back an expiring contract to help the Kings out. Folin or grinding center Torrey Mitchell are both pending unrestricted free agents and could be added to the proposed Red Wings-Kings trade in that circumstance.
Jacob Messing: Tampa Bay Lightning
Full Trade: Detroit trades Mike Green to Tampa Bay for a 2018 first-round pick and a conditional 2019 third-round pick. (If Tampa Bay reaches the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals, the 2019 3rd round pick turns into a 2019 2nd round pick. Detroit also retains 50% of Green’s 2017-18 salary.)
In Tampa Bay—where the forward depth could drown a giant—the best deadline target is a defenseman. Realistically, the best reinforcement on the back-end would be a defensive-minded guy, but Green would still be a big prize.
Through 45 games, Green owns five goals and 26 points. He leads Detroit in ice time (22:39) and special teams points (13) and is just one of three Red Wings to have played at least 20 games that isn’t a minus on the season (even).
With better, more consistent talent around him, Green’s offense would likely see a massive bump. Detroit sits at 18-20-7 with a minus-18 goal differential, and the fact that Green, as their ice time leader, boasts an even rating, argues sound defensive play from the veteran.
When it comes to the playoffs and minutes shift to the team’s top three guys, there’s a significant drop after Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman.
While Mikhail Sergachev has had a great rookie season, he is sixth in ice time among Lightning defensemen. It’s very possible that, as a rookie, he’ll be in over his head in his first stint of playoff hockey.
Green has 10 goals and 37 points in 76 playoff games to go along with a modest minus-three rating. Not incredible numbers, but for a player that has never passed the second round, they’re certainly not horrible.
Griffin Schroeder: Columbus Blue Jackets
Full Trade: Detroit trades Mike Green to Columbus for a 2018 first-round pick. (Detroit also retains 50% of Green’s 2017-18 salary.)
Columbus’s loss could be Detroit’s gain come deadline season.
Boasting a steady top-four defense core that features Zach Werenski and Seth Jones as cornerstones up top, the Jack Johnson-David Savard pairing was one of the more underrated tandems in the league last season. CBJ’s middle duo placed 21st among all twosomes that played at least 700 minutes together in terms of Corsi-against-per-60.
In 2017-18, their play together has declined, as their once-sparkling Corsi-against has shot up almost seven percentage points. Interestingly enough, Johnson, a pending unrestricted free agent, recently requested a trade.
The Blue Jackets now have a decision to make regarding their blue line. They are still in line to contend, sitting third in the Metropolitan Division. However, they will be losing an experienced rearguard if Johnson’s request is ultimately met. This is where Holland could pounce with his most valuable commodity.
Green wouldn’t be an upgrade defensively, but could provide offensive support outside the top pairing. In addition to their regression this season, Johnson and Savard have combined for 15 points with zero coming on the power play. Green has 13 man advantage points alone and 26 total.
Now may be a good time to mention that Columbus has the worst power play in the league.
In terms of a return, Detroit will sweeten the pot with retained salary likely on the expiring $6 million price tag. If Green continued on his torrid pace to start the season (14 points in he first 17 games), the price of at least a first-round pick would be unanimously expected. However, his plateau since and offensive specialization could lessen the value to a realistic package of second-round picks.
Then again, Columbus could be desperate to win their first playoff series in a year of regression for the Pittsburgh Penguins and pay a premium. Detroit has a chance to set the market with this deal and should push for a first-rounder given Columbus’s pending need for experienced power play help on the back-end.