What’s The Grind Line? Apart from the once-famous line of Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, and either Joe Kocur or Darren McCarty, The Grind Line is also The Hockey Writers’ weekly column about the Detroit Red Wings. This week Tony Wolak, Devin Little, Patrick Brown, and Kyle Knopp are the muckers who make up THW’s forechecking unit and sound off on Red Wings topics.
Believe it or not, the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is quickly approaching. In recent years, the deadline has represented a milestone in the Red Wings’ rebuild – an opportunity for the team to ship out veteran players for prospects and draft picks.
This year might be a little different. The Red Wings have exceeded expectations this season by playing competitive hockey most nights, already topping their 2020-21 win total.
Will the Red Wings sell at the deadline once again? Or perhaps keep this improved team together? In this week’s edition of The Grind Line, The Hockey Writers’ Red Wings coverage team answers just that and shares their opinion on what to expect on the trade front in the coming weeks.
Trade or Keep: Nick Leddy
Tony Wolak: Trade
Leddy hasn’t had the strongest season thus far, but his mobility and playoff experience will be coveted around the deadline. The Red Wings shouldn’t expect to receive more than a third-round pick given Leddy’s average play and the glut of left-handed defensemen on the trade block – and that’s okay. Ship out the pending free agent, recoup a draft pick, give Jared McIsaac and/or Donovan Sebrango a few NHL games before the season ends, and touch base with Leddy in the offseason about a one-year contract.
Devin Little: Trade
Echoing much of what Tony said, Leddy is probably the only defenseman on the left side of Detroit’s blue line that could recoup anything of value at the deadline – especially if the Red Wings retain half of his $5.5 million cap hit. While he hasn’t had a strong season, NHL GMs usually shell out big time assets to acquire defensemen that can play a good amount of minutes and also have the kind of resume that he has. Some people seem to think that he’s a dead asset, but I don’t. I’d expect at least a third-round pick in return in a deal for Leddy.
Pat Brown: Keep
I completely get the argument for a trade, but I think Leddy’s skill and veteran presence would benefit the Red Wings’ young roster far more than a third rounder (at best). Even with Moritz Seider and Filip Hronek in the mix, Detroit’s blue line is still awfully porous, and the club is past the point in its rebuild where third-or-fourth round assets bear much weight. Keep Leddy, let the kids continue to learn from an experienced defenseman, and move on at the end of the season.
Related: Trade Deadline Big Board: Top 10 Targets for 2022
Kyle Knopp: Trade, but bring back
All three of my Grind Line teammates are dead on the money. Leddy is the only Wings player that could bring in future assets (a third or fourth) to provide playoff experience for a team making a push while also mentoring the maturation of the future of Detroit’s blue line. Therefore, the best case scenario is to trade Leddy while retaining some of his salary at the deadline, with a backdoor deal in place for him to re-sign in the offseason.
Trade or Keep: Vladislav Namestnikov
Tony Wolak: Keep
While the Red Wings have a handful of young forwards in need of playing time, Namestnikov isn’t the player that should be sacrificed in their favor. His versatility and pride in being a part of the organization are valuable traits, and he can likely be re-signed cheaply to play a bottom-six role moving forward.
Devin Little: Trade
I like Namestnikov, and I think that he really likes being a Red Wing. For that reason alone, I would be fine if he isn’t dealt at the deadline. That being said, I think you have to sell high on him while you can. He’s one of Detroit’s few tradable assets that could fetch something worth the trouble, so they should make the move while they can. In the offseason, the Red Wings can circle back and offer him a new deal if the fit is there.
Pat Brown: Trade
Namestnikov has had quite a season to this point, and his 22 points are the most he’s recorded since putting up 31 in 65 games – split between three different teams – in 2019-20. Much like Devin said, I think the 29-year-old has found a niche with the Red Wings, and I’d even love to see him re-sign, but his stock will never be higher than it is right now. There are plenty of options for the club to fill the gap left behind, unlike on the blue line, and while I’ll hate to see him go, the Wings should sell high.
Kyle Knopp: Keep
Much like Ken Kal said on our most recent episode of The Grind Line, Namestnikov has been one of the most impressive Red Wings this season. And while I get the argument that now is the time to sell high, I believe his role and fit in Detroit is just beginning to come together. To ship him to another team and try to bring him back in the offseason would be too much of a risk to disrupt what has been building in Hockeytown. Keep Namestnikov, and continue to fit him into the roster once Vrana is healthy and returns.
Trade or Keep: Tyler Bertuzzi
Tony Wolak: Keep, but…
After missing most of the 2020-21 season, Bertuzzi has been a revelation, proving that he is, in fact, a top-line NHL player. The chemistry he has with Detroit’s top-six forwards is undeniable. That said, the Red Wings shouldn’t be afraid to strike while the iron is hot. If they’re blown away by an offer, they should absolutely take it. Bertuzzi turns 27 later this month and won’t be in his prime forever.
Devin Little: Keep
Bertuzzi has become an elite player this season – there’s no way around it. If the Red Wings want to acquire premium future assets, they have to be comfortable moving on from players like him, much like they did last season when they traded Anthony Mantha. However, due to his inability to travel to Canada this season, I don’t think his value is where it needs to be for a move to make sense. He’s a team- and fan-favorite in Detroit, so let him ride out this fantastic year in the Motor City. If a mind-blowing offer is available, then the Red Wings should obviously consider it. Otherwise, this seems like a situation you don’t revisit until the offseason.
Pat Brown: Keep
I’ve always been of the belief that all players are replaceable, but Bertuzzi has shown multiple times this season why he is so important to the Red Wings. He brings swagger and a level of courage that ignites a spark in his teammates, and it just seems like more often than not, when Detroit needs a big play, he’s involved in it. There’s no reason to ship off the team’s x-factor, unless of course Yzerman receives an offer he simply cannot refuse.
Kyle Knopp: Trade
Bertuzzi is the definition of sell high, as he is having a breakout season. Much like Mantha last year, now is the time to get the most back from moving him to another team. While his return might not be as premium as if he were vaccinated, there are plenty of teams that would give up plenty of assets to get a player of Bertuzzi’s caliber. If the deal is right, Detroit will get the most from moving Bert at the deadline.
Another Red Wings Player on the Trade Block?
Tony Wolak: Marc Staal
I’m just as surprised as you are that Staal continues to thrive. If the Red Wings are able to find a taker for the defenseman, they should absolutely pull the trigger on a deal. And if not, no big deal. Staal has played well enough that a one-year extension wouldn’t be such a bad thing.
Devin Little: Troy Stecher
This might be a bit of a long-shot considering the defenseman hasn’t played since Nov. 4, but if he can make a full recovery from the wrist injury that has held him out of the lineup, he could be an appealing target for teams looking to give their defensive depth a boost. He recently skated in a non-contact jersey, so there’s reason to believe that he’s getting close. With Moritz Seider, Filip Hronek, and Gustav Lindstrom ahead of him on the depth chart, his future is not in Detroit. It makes sense to squeeze an asset out of him while the Red Wings have the opportunity.
Pat Brown: Filip Zadina
OK, I’ll bite, but this isn’t a knock on Zadina. Much like my rationale for trading Namestnikov, Detroit has the flexibility to move a forward and fill the gap with the “next man up” mentality. I don’t think we’ll ever see Zadina’s stock any higher than it is right now, and a change of scenery may do the 22-year-old a little good. Yzerman is under no obligation to move the restricted free agent, and it’s that very status that may make the former sixth-overall pick a really attractive player to acquire. Given that, Detroit’s GM can ask for a bit more than fair market value, and the reward far outweighs the risk if the price is right.
Related: What’s Wrong With Filip Zadina?
Kyle Knopp: Marc Staal
I was on the side of trading Staal at the deadline last season, and I still believe this would be the best move for the Wings to pursue this year. This isn’t to say I want Detroit to ship him out (like I advocated for Jon Merrill), but rather that his return value is the highest it will ever be. Staal has been consistent enough to garner a third or a fourth from an interested team, and if it were between Staal and Leddy, I’d much rather keep Leddy in Detroit.