Should Detroit Make a Push for James Wisniewski?

Earlier this month, I wrote about the possibility of Marek Zidlicky being a trade target for the Detroit Red Wings. It’s no secret that the team has been on the hunt for an offensively inclined, right-handed defender for quite some time now. I also discussed Dion Phaneuf’s availability, and if he and Detroit would be a good match. With rumors circulating that Columbus Blue Jackets defender James Wisniewski could be available, it is possible that Detroit may have found a more ideal target to pursue.

A Good Fit for Detroit’s Defense

Wisniewski fits several of the Red Wings’ needs on their blueline. He has a knack for getting his shot on net and would be a fantastic addition to Detroit’s already potent power play. The Canton, Michigan native’s numbers have dropped slightly this season – he has scored 27 points through 52 games. However, it’s probably fair to say that Columbus’ injury woes have played a part in the decline. Last season, Wisniewski put up 51 points in 75 games, which put him in eighth spot among defensemen for the 2013-14 season.

Wisniewski also plays with a physical edge, something that Detroit could use a little more of on their back-end. His 92 hits through this season would put him in first for the Red Wings in that regard. Additionally, Wisniewski has seen time on the penalty kill in Columbus, playing an average of 1:51 per game. While Detroit has regularly used Kronwall-Ericsson and DeKeyser-Quincey as their PK pairings, it would be a bonus to have the option of using Wisniewski, should the need arise.

Would Wisniewski Waive for Detroit?

One possible hitch in this scenario would be his willingness to go to Detroit. Wisniewski has a limited no-trade clause, giving him the ability to create a list of ten teams, to which he would not approve a trade. Would Detroit be on his “do not trade” list? It’s unlikely, though Wisniewski has expressed a somewhat negative opinion toward Red Wings management in the past.

After signing a six-year, 33 million dollar deal with the Blue Jackets in 2011, Wisniewski took a bit of a shot at the Red Wings:

“For me, knowing Detroit’s history they don’t really pay the market value for a defenseman or any player, […] So I didn’t think that was going to be a fit for myself.”

Compensation is no longer an issue when it comes to Wisniewski becoming a member of the Red Wings – his contract with Columbus runs until the 2017-18 season. However, if Wisniewski was in talks with Detroit during the summer of 2011 and felt slighted by an offer made by the club, it is possible that he could be reluctant to accept a trade to the Wings. Overall, I believe that Wisniewski would accept a move to Detroit. The Wings are among the top teams in the eastern conference, and his compensation is in accordance with his standards.

Would Ken Holland Pay Up?

The biggest question is whether Ken Holland would be willing to pay the price in order to acquire Wisniewski. Certainly, if Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekäläinen is considering moving the defender, he will seek out a solid return for him. Ken Holland is not looking to add depth on Detroit’s blueline, but rather a significant upgrade.

Would James Wisniewski Be a Good Fit for the Red Wings?. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
Would James Wisniewski Be a Good Fit for the Red Wings?. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Outside of the Washington Capitals’ Mike Green, Wisniewski is one of the few blueliners I would like to see Holland aggressively pursue. Taking on the role of armchair general manager, I would be willing to package Teemu Pulkkinen, Brendan Smith or Xavier Ouellet and a second-round draft pick in a trade for Wisniewski. While it may seem too much for Detroit fans, or too little for Columbus fans, I feel as if both sides would benefit from the trade. With less than one week left before the trade deadline, time can only tell whether Holland will stand pat or make one final push for an upgrade on defense.

13 thoughts on “Should Detroit Make a Push for James Wisniewski?”

  1. Not sure I’m convinced getting Wisniewski would really help, but I rather see Smith stay and Ericsson go. He’s always on the ice when the crucial goal is scored against the Wings.

    • Yes, Wolf, I believe Ericsson has digressed/underachieved the past
      few years………
      I don’t see either how Wis would help all that much…….
      promote Marchenko from GR……….

      • Detroit is middle of the pack offensively. Wis would be Detroits best offensive dman and brings a nasty side. I grew up a Wings fan but I live in Cbus. He would be a great addition. I am not going to compare him to Lidstrom but he will be the best dman since capable of getting the puck to the net.

        • Brett, I will defer to your knowledge about Wis……..
          I’m just really leery of trading away prospects like
          Pulkinen, and Marchenko……

  2. Wisniewski would be a big upgrade to the Wings blueline. I would send Smith in the deal with Wis replacing him on the second line. Pair him with DeKeyser and this is a fairly solid top 4. I would be hesitant to send Teemu though. Maybe another blue chip or see if you can off load Franzen since he is pretty useless. Second round pick is fair as well.

      • Why would Columbus want Franzen? Usually GM’s dont have the brains of 5 year olds so I am pretty sure Columbus will ask for something good in return. Wis is a good player. Columbus doesnt need to get rid of him and he isnt a free agent for a few more years. Wis will command a good return or Columbus will keep him.

        • I agree on Wis, brett……
          I am simply saying, peddle Franzen to ANY team that
          will take him, & get SOMETHING in return……..

  3. Ugh god no…people get way to hung up on experience. Wiz is a solid player, nothing spectacular. Brendan Smith gets so much hate yet he’s actually been a real solid player this year. If you think Wiz poses a significant upgrade over Smith I think you aren’t paying attention.

    • No hate on Smith from my end of things. I think he’s turned a corner this season, too. If I thought the trade could be made using Kindl instead of Smith, I’d be all for it. You’ve got to give to get, though.

      I have to disagree about Wisniewski not being an upgrade over Smith, specifically when it comes to offense. Perhaps it’s the way that Babcock is using him (or not using him), but I have a hard time seeing Smith generating the type of offense that Wisniewski is capable of producing. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see Smith putting up 35-40+ points – not in the near future, anyway. I think you have to factor in how reluctant Babs is to use him on the 2nd power play unit, too.

      • Yeah, but Wisniewski is not exactly a 35-40 point guy either, or he wasn’t before last season. Before last season’s 51, he had never tallied more than 30 points. He’ll score more than 30 points again this season, and you could argue that he is entering his “prime” years, but I just don’t think I’d give up that much for him. And more importantly, I don’t think Holland would, either. Teemu Pulkkinen is leading the AHL in goals. If he, Kindl and a 3rd-round pick is not enough for Columbus, screw ’em. But then again, at this point, I really don’t know who has the brighter future, Kindl or Smith. So….? Wisniewski is certainly an upgrade over either of them. Oh well, I’ll reluctantly trust Holland on this one, though I have very little trust in him this time of the year.

        • Hey Jim,

          One of the bigger knocks on Wisniewski is his history of injuries. Certainly it’s an issue, but his point totals are more impressive when you look at his P/GP. In four of the past five seasons (including this year), Wiz has put up a .53 points per game or better. He actually scored 51 points in 2010-11, but he split the season as a member of the Islanders and Canadiens.

          I admit that the package I’m discussing might be seen as a bit much by some Wings fans. Alternatively, some of the packages I’ve seen elsewhere seem like they’re not even close to good enough to land Wisniewski. He’s a bit of a risk – injury history, turnovers, some bad penalties, but I think he can be had for less than someone like Yandle or Green (if he’s even available now).

          If Detroit can add a solid upgrade to their back-end without giving up Mantha, Larkin, etc. or their 1st round pick, I think it’s an easier pill to swallow.

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