A sure sign that we’re entering the second third of the 2021-22 season is that fans and media are starting to speculate about which teams might do what in the weeks leading up to the March 21 trade deadline. The Detroit Red Wings are no exception, and some eagle-eyed media folk have fanned the flames of speculation with a recent observation out in San Jose. Let’s take a look out west….
Red Wings (Maybe) Scouting Evander Kane
San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane has been a lightning rod for controversy, especially over the last year or so. He was suspended for the first 21 games this season because he submitted a fake vaccination card, and that’s not even the thing that has dominated the headlines. Now that his suspension is over, the Sharks sent him down to the American Hockey League to join the San Jose Barracuda. Six teams had scouts present to watch the Barracuda this weekend, including the Red Wings.
A firestorm broke out on social media as fans voiced their shock at the idea that the controversial forward could be on the Red Wings’ radar. However, others noted that just because a team sends scouts to a game, it does not mean that a move is imminent or even likely:
A 30-year-old veteran of 12 NHL seasons, Kane was drafted fourth overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009. Across stints with the Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres and the Sharks, he has 264 goals and 506 points through 769 regular season games. Despite the dark cloud that seems to hover above him, he actually had a successful 2020-21 season, as he had 49 points through 56 games, leading to a career-best points per-game rate of .88.
After this season, he still has three years left on his contract that carries a $7 million cap-hit. The Sharks are reportedly willing to retain half of the power forward’s salary to help facilitate a move out of San Jose. While the Red Wings are more than likely not in on Kane, they could very well play middle-man in a three-team trade, retaining more of Kane’s salary in exchange for a future asset, much like they did in the David Savard trade last season.
Chatter and speculation on this matter will continue until a move finally comes to fruition.
Namestnikov & Leddy Mentioned as Trade Targets
Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek recently took a look at 25 players worth keeping an eye on as the trade deadline draws nearer. The Red Wings were represented by forward Vladislav Namestnikov and defenseman Nick Leddy, both of whom are on expiring contracts.
On Namestnikov: “Namestnikov is versatile, affordable and can fetch (general manager) Steve Yzerman more building blocks.”
On Leddy: “Leddy is on an expiring contract and if things get goofy around defencemen at the deadline, who knows how much Yzerman can get?”
Namestnikov is having a resurgent season after a pretty underwhelming 2020-21 campaign. The Russian forward is tied with Tyler Bertuzzi for second on the team with nine goals, already besting the eight goals he put up last season. He also recently recorded his 100th career goal. A veteran of 506 regular season games and 41 playoff games, he can play all three forward positions and, at 29 years old, has plenty of tread left on his tires. He could fetch a third round pick at the trade deadline depending on the market.
In his first season with the Red Wings after being acquired from the New York Islanders, Leddy has spent most of this season on Detroit’s second defense pairing with Filip Hronek. The 30-year-old has eight points through 28 games this season and is tied with Robby Fabbri with a team-worst minus-11 plus/minus rating. He recently played the 800th regular season game of his career and has 344 points across 12 seasons. Originally drafted by the Minnesota Wild, he won the 2013 Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks before he was sent to the Islanders, where he spent seven seasons.
With a cap-hit of $5.5 million, the Red Wings will have to retain half of Leddy’s salary to maximize the return on a potential deal. Detroit sent a 2021 second round pick to the Islanders to acquire his services prior to the Seattle Expansion Draft. That should set the benchmark for what the Red Wings expect to receive in a deal for him, though Yzerman would undoubtedly like to receive a little more than that.
Larkin, Raymond & Seider on the All-Star Ballot
With the 2022 All-Star Game just under two months away, fan voting has opened up, giving fans an opportunity to vote their favorite players into the All-Star festivities. The Red Wings are well-represented on this year’s ballot as captain Dylan Larkin and the team’s two rookie phenoms, Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider, are all ready to receive your votes.
This year’s All-Star game will be held in Las Vegas on Feb. 4 and 5. Voting will remain open until Jan. 8.
NHL Salary Cap Projected to Go Up Next Year and Beyond
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the salary cap for next season is still projected to go up to $82.5 million, a $1 million increase from the last few seasons. The salary cap will increase by $1 million per season until the players repay debt that was accrued since the pandemic began. Luckily, there’s some positive news on that front as well:
The 2024-25 season also happens to be when Raymond and Seider will both need new deals. If there is a significant cap increase that season, that will be music to Yzerman’s ears.
- Devin Little explained why, despite his offensive struggles, Filip Zadina is not a problem at this point.
- Patrick Brown sat down with Detroit Free Press reporter Helene St. James to discuss her thoughts on the state of the Red Wings.
- The Grind Line shared some early season surprises and disappointments.
- The Grind Line also hosted retired referee Tim Peel to discuss the infamous hot mic incident that ended his career, as well as the state of officiating today.
- Be sure to check out this week’s Red Wings Weekly!
- Don’t forget the Red Wings Daily Download!
I am a Western Michigan University alum whose passion for hockey knows no limits. Dr. Pepper enthusiast. Catch me and my fellow Red Wings writers’ YouTube show “The Hockey Writers Grind Line” which drops every Saturday.