Red Wings Trade Chips: Value, Comparables & Potential Trade Partners

To the surprise of no one, the Detroit Red Wings are expected to be sellers at this year’s trade deadline.

Which Red Wings might be traded in the near future? Let’s take a look at seven players who could garner some interest from playoff-bound teams.

Bobby Ryan

Contract: $1 million; pending UFA.

Summary: I’m not going to lie, this has 2016-17 Thomas Vanek written over it. Veteran is bought out, comes to Detroit on a one-year deal, regains offensive prowess, and … brings back a meager return at the trade deadline.

Bobby Ryan of the Detroit Red Wings
Bobby Ryan has been a welcomed addition to the Red Wings’ lineup. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Don’t expect Steve Yzerman to get much for Ryan if he shops the forward. A third-round pick and a Dylan McIlrath-type prospect is probably the best offer the Red Wings will receive.

Ryan served his purpose in Detroit. He has been a valuable on- and off-ice presence for the Red Wings. But for a contender, Ryan can provide depth scoring on the third line and second power play unit. His $1 million cap hit will certainly be palatable for cash-strapped teams.

Comparables: Brandon Sutter, Mikael Granlund, Jeff Carter, Tanner Pearson, Ryan Dzingel.

Trade Value: Middle-tier prospect or third-round pick and low-tier prospect.

Potential Destinations: Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Vegas Golden Knights.

Update: Ryan has been sidelined for the remainder of the regular season with an upper-body injury.

Darren Helm

Contract: $3.85 million; pending UFA.

Summary: Even though Helm hasn’t produced a ton of offense this season, he has provided value on the ice. As part of a checking line with Luke Glendening and Adam Erne, Helm has been difficult to play against, even with opponents’ top lines on the ice.

Darren Helm of the Detroit Red Wings
Darren Helm could garner some interest at the trade deadline. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

If the Red Wings retain half of Helm’s salary, there’s a good chance a playoff-bound team will want the forward on their roster. After all, Helm is a former Stanley Cup champion who can be difficult to play against in a defensive, bottom-six role.

Comparables: Tobias Rieder, Riley Sheahan, Matt Nieto, Nick Cousins.

Trade Value: Fourth-round pick or lower-tier prospect.

Potential Destinations: Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Colorado Avalanche.

Valtteri Filppula

Contract: $3 million; pending UFA.

Summary: Trading Filppula may be a tough sell for Yzerman. Best-case scenario, he pitches the veteran as a versatile, respected leader with tons of playoff experience and someone bites. A young team in need of leadership could see value here, even if Filppula plays sparingly down the stretch.

That said, the soon-to-be 37-year-old center needs to boost his counting stats over the next couple weeks if he wants to join another team for the playoffs. His 55.79 Corsi-against per 60 (CA/60) at five-on-five leaves much to be desired for a “defensive forward”, as does his 44.6 faceoff win percentage.

Comparables: Artem Anisimov, David Backes, Derrick Brassard.

Trade Value: Fifth- or sixth-round pick.

Potential Destinations: Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks.

Related: Diving Into the Detroit Red Wings’ No-Trade Clauses

Luke Glendening

Contract: $1.8 million; pending UFA.

Summary: Like Helm, Glendening’s calling card is his defensive prowess. The 31-year-old center also excels in the faceoff circle, winning 67.6 percent of his draws, which is good enough to lead the entire NHL in faceoff percentage. In the defensive zone, Glendening has won 64.1 percent of faceoffs, making it much easier for the Red Wings to exit their zone.

Luke Glendening of the Detroit Red Wings
Luke Glendening is the ideal fourth line center. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Glendening’s contract is modest, but Detroit will likely need to retain some of his salary if they opt to trade their alternate captain. That said, it should be worth their while to do so – teams have received solid compensation for similar players in the past. 

Regardless of whether or not Glendening is traded, expect the Red Wings to bring Glendening back to Hockeytown for a couple more years.

Comparables: Riley Sheahan, Jay Beagle, Calle Jarnkrok.

Trade Value: Third-round pick.

Potential Destinations: Tampa Bay Lightning, Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sam Gagner

Contract: $850,000; pending UFA.

Summary: I’m surprised there hasn’t been more trade chatter about Gagner. Maybe his recent hat trick will change that. After all, Gagner is elite defensively.

The veteran forward is a perfect low-risk, high-reward trade chip for teams headed to the postseason. He can play all three forward positions, on the power play and penalty kill, and up and down the lineup. Expect Yzerman to receive plenty of calls if Gagner continues to land on the scoresheet.

Comparables: Brandon Sutter, Marcus Sorenson.

Trade Value: Fourth-round pick or lower-tier prospect.

Potential Destinations: Vegas Golden Knights, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes.

Related: Red Wings & Canadiens: Mock Mantha Trade

Marc Staal & Patrik Nemeth


  • Staal: $5.7 million; pending UFA.
  • Nemeth: $3 million; pending UFA.

Summary: I’m grouping Staal and Nemeth together here because they’re essentially the same defenseman. Both are prototypical “defensive defensemen” who can be trusted around the net, whether that’s at five-on-five or shorthanded. Both also can be physical, which is something teams value highly during the postseason.

Staal has arguably had the better season so far. He has surprisingly found the scoresheet on a couple occasions and his five-on-five defensive metrics aren’t terrible:

Metric Marc Staal (NHL Rank) Patrik Nemeth (NHL Rank)
CA/60 52.37 (92nd) 51.68 (82nd)
xGA/60 1.94 (50th) 2.52 (184th)
HDCA/60 6.78 (8th) 11.19 (163rd)

However, his contract is an issue. Even if the Red Wings retain half of his salary, $2.85 million is a lot to shell out for a depth defenseman. Nemeth’s contract is more palatable, especially if Yzerman opts to retain part of his $3 million salary.

Considering the Red Wings were only able to get back a fifth-round pick for Mike Green last season, I can’t fathom they’ll get a better return for Staal or Nemeth. Not in this economy.

Comparables: Erik Gudbranson, Jack Johnson, Jason Demers, Jordie Benn, Travis Hamonic, Niklas Hjallmarsson.

Trade Value: Fifth- or sixth-round pick.

Potential Destinations: St. Louis Blues, Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, Vegas Golden Knights, Florida Panthers.

Update: Nemeth was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for a 2022 fourth-round pick.

Other Trade Candidates 

Though they are also pending UFAs, Jonathan Bernier and Jon Merrill should not be shopped at the deadline. Rather, Yzerman should try to re-sign them unless offers come in that he can’t refuse. 

Merrill, in particular, has been one of Detroit’s best defensive players this season. According to Evolving-Hockey’s Goals Above Replacement (GAR) model, the blueliner’s 2.9 defensive GAR ranks first among all Red Wings skaters. Not bad for a depth signing.

Plus, the Red Wings have plenty of other players to move out at the deadline this year. They may want to act quickly, though – COVID-19 will surely have an impact on the trade deadline this year.

Update: Merrill was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for Hayden Verbeek and a 2021 fifth-round pick.

Stats courtesy of, Evolving-Hockey, and Natural Stat Trick.

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