The trade deadline is now in the rear-view mirror. For the most part, rosters across the league are now set for the rest of the season. For the Detroit Red Wings, it means that they’re in the final stretch of what has been a monumentally bad season.
While some fans are surely sad to see a player like Andreas Athanasiou leave in a trade for draft picks, there are still players worthy of their attention. As general manager Steve Yzerman mentioned in his post-deadline press conference, there are plenty of reasons for the players to show up. It’s time to play for pride, play for each other and, of course, play for their jobs.
Certain players stand out for consideration during the final 18 games of the season. Following his press conference, Yzerman will be watching them, and so should we.
The Red Wings didn’t just use trades to acquire players/assets yesterday. They claimed Dmytro Timashov off waivers, a move that flew under the radar due to the buzz of the deadline. Fans should still be excited about this acquisition, (from ‘Red Wings claim forward Dmytro Timashov off waivers from Maple Leafs,’ Detroit News, 02/24/2020).
At 23 years old, Timashov fits the age profile of players Yzerman has worked to bring in this season. He’s a former fifth-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he is in the midst of his rookie season with 39 games played. Though he has only accumulated nine points, Timashov’s average time-on-ice (TOI) is just 8:06. With the Red Wings, the young winger will likely receive a bigger opportunity.
Timashov is cut from the same cloth as the Red Wings’ Taro Hirose, though Timashov is more adept in the defensive end. If all goes well, he will provide a solid two-way presence in the bottom of the lineup. If he doesn’t pan out, the Red Wings gave away nothing to get him. No harm, no foul.
Mantha is a part of the core group that brings fans out to Little Caesar’s Arena anyway, but the winger has something to prove following back-to-back injuries. With only 36 games played this season, he has 13 goals and 31 points – pretty remarkable given the state of the team around him.
His presence on the ice regularly means good things are happening for the Red Wings. His relative-Corsi, or the effect he has on the team’s overall Corsi number, is plus-17.53, which is as eye-popping as you might think. Mantha has never crossed the 50-point threshold despite having the talent to do so; injuries and an impotent offense around him have dragged his stats down over the last few seasons.
During the stretch run, Mantha needs to be able to stay healthy and continue to do what he does best – create offense. His contract is up after this season, and Yzerman will likely look to lock the winger down with a contract for decent term. How Mantha finishes up the season will go a long way to determining how much he’ll make next season, and whether or not the injuries he sustained this year have slowed him down.
Perlini is another player on an expiring contract that Yzerman has to weigh his options on. While the young winger is still just 23 years old, he has struggled since coming over from the Chicago Blackhawks in an October trade. With Evgeny Svechnikov, Hirose and Michael Rasmussen marinating in the AHL, Perlini’s restricted free agent status doesn’t cement his spot on next season’s roster.
Since the new year, Perlini has been in and out of the lineup. It reflects poorly on him if he can’t hold down a spot on a roster that has only managed 15 wins through 64 games. He not only needs a strong end-of-season push, but fans and coach Jeff Blashill should expect it from him.
Failure to do so could result in a few things: the Red Wings could send him a qualifying offer to retain his rights while they search for a new home for him; or, they might sever ties and let him search for a new home by himself. Given the cost to acquire the forward, Yzerman has to hope that Perlini finds the missing gear in his game.
The Finish Line
In less than two months, the Red Wings will be at the draft lottery with (likely) the best odds at picking first overall in June. Still, it’s too early to start watching Lafreniere highlights on YouTube. There’s plenty going on with this season’s team.
Beyond the players mentioned above, everyone has a player that they want to see do well – whether it’s Dylan Larkin or Darren Helm. Furthermore, there’s the chance that one or two of the team’s prospects will receive a chance to show their stuff like Filip Zadina did last season.
So, don’t turn away from the Red Wings yet. The long slog to the end is upon us.
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.