The Grind Line: Grading the Red Wings’ Trade Deadline Moves

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. Rachel Anderson, Raymond Harrison, Devin Little, Ben Banfield, and Tony Wolak are the muckers who makeup THW’s forechecking unit and sound off on Red Wings topics.

Now that the 2020 NHL Trade has passed, the Detroit Red Wings can turn their attention to the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft. In his first trade deadline as general manager of the Red Wings, Steve Yzerman accomplished what he was hoping to do: Acquire draft picks to stockpile for the future.

In all, the Red Wings completed two trades and claimed one player off waivers:

  • Traded defenseman Mike Green (50 percent salary retained) to the Edmonton Oilers for Kyle Brodziak and a conditional 2020 fourth-round pick (becomes a 2021 third-round pick if the Oilers reach the Western Conference Finals and Green plays in 50 percent of the games).
  • Claimed forward Dmytro Timashov off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
  • Traded forwards Andreas Athanasiou and Ryan Kuffner to the Oilers for Sam Gagner (10 percent salary retained), a 2020 second-round pick, and a 2021 second-round pick.

In addition, Yzerman noted during his post-deadline press conference that there were a couple “minor” things that he explored, but they did not come to fruition. He declined to elaborate further on those dead ends.

In this week’s edition of The Grind Line, The Hockey Writers’ Red Wings coverage team shares their grades for Yzerman’s inaugural trade deadline acquisitions. Now, let’s dive into how Detroit’s former captain fared.

Tony Wolak: B-

In my opinion, the trade deadline followed the same theme as the rest of the Red Wings’ season: You knew what was coming and hoped for more, but, in the end, you were reminded of what reality actually is.

Steve Yzerman of the Detroit Red Wings.
Steve Yzerman and Ken Holland shook hands a couple times (over the phone) to complete trades on Monday. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

I was hoping Yzerman could get more for Athanasiou and Green, plus unload Trevor Daley. But that didn’t happen. The Captain seemed content, though, so maybe my expectations were a little high. Nonetheless, the Red Wings now have six picks in what’s likely to be the top-70 selections of the 2020 draft and that’s exactly what a rebuild needs.

Gagner and Timashov are nice depth adds. Why not audition the two players down the stretch? They’re not going to be top-six forwards, but depth pieces to compete with Adam Erne, Brendan Perlini, Christoffer Ehn, and others for bottom-six roster spots on next season’s team. Timashov brings an above-average agility and adequate offensive zone skills, while Gagner is a crafty veteran with soft hands and a right-handed shot. Let’s see how they fare over the next 18 games.

And finally, Brodziak is out for the season and will remain on injured reserve with the Red Wings.

Ben Banfield: B+

The Red Wings are only getting this grade from me because of their lack of viable players to trade. I don’t blame Yzerman for not getting better players or draft picks, because he didn’t have that many players available due to the no-trade clauses that Ken Holland handed out like candy before he left the organization. However, I think he moved the right players and received decent value for them.

Former Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.
Did Ken Holland’s contracts make some players untradable for Steve Yzerman? (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Athanasiou was the most valuable player that was worth moving. Nobody will miss his minus-45 rating on a team that is lacking in NHL-ready defensemen. Getting Gagner and second-round picks for the next two drafts is going to shore up the minor league system – hopefully leading to future success.

Moving Green was also worthwhile. He hasn’t provided the offensive punch he was known for earlier in his career. The biggest thing that the Wings are going to miss will be the veteran presence he brought to the locker room.

Devin Little: B-

There are multiple angles to discuss here. First, Red Wings fans were likely hoping for a full-blown firesale considering the team’s efforts this season. However, the players on the roster that interest other teams are the ones that the Red Wings should retain. No matter what sell-job Yzerman does, nobody is trading for the likes of Justin Abdelkader and/or Frans Nielsen. While it’s a little disappointing the Red Wings only managed two deals, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise (especially with Athanasiou and Green being the only healthy scratches on Sunday night).

In the Green deal, the Red Wings are getting a fourth-round pick, with the outside chance of it becoming a third-round pick in next year’s draft. The asset gained in this trade is pennies-on-the-dollar compared to what the team might have acquired if they had been able to move Green in prior years. The turnover on defense has begun, though, and that’s worth something.

Former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Green.
Mike Green will add to Edmonton’s already impressive power play. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

As for the Athanasiou deal, the Red Wings did well to add draft capital, but given the market, I’m surprised the Red Wings couldn’t have gotten a larger return. Barclay Goodrow was traded by the San Jose Sharks to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a first round pick. Plus, the Los Angeles Kings were able to net top prospect Tyler Madden and a draft pick for Tyler Toffoli.

All in all, the Red Wings added more picks to their arsenal, which is good. However, there’s this lingering feeling that there could have been more. All that matters now is whether or not the Red Wings can hit on all those second-round picks…

Raymond Harrison: B

The deadline was pretty vanilla for the Red Wings, mainly because they had a limited amount of desirable assets on their roster. While the fan base may be a bit disappointed with the overall lack of activity, it is no fault of Yzerman’s.

Former Detroit Red Wings forward Andreas Athanasiou.
Apart from Andreas Athanasiou, the Red Wings did not have much to offer. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Green trade was your stereotypical rental depth-defenseman deal. At this stage of his career, his veteran mentorship is likely as valuable as his on-ice play, and the Red Wings will miss that aspect. Alas, Green’s 2019-20 season has been miserable, so getting some draft capital for the 34-year-old rearguard is positive.

My favorite transaction of the day was the Timashov acquisition. He had shown flashes of promise in the AHL over the past few seasons and was seeing just 8:06 of ice time per game with the Maple Leafs. The Red Wings did not have to give up any assets to acquire the 23-year-old, and he will get a chance to prove himself over the remaining 18 games.

As for Athanasiou, I was hoping for a bit more in return, but the trade value is fair. Nobody is questioning Athanasiou’s offensive skills, and it will be a treat to watch him play alongside Connor McDavid. Nevertheless, he never felt like the kind of young player that was going to be part of the team’s core moving forward, especially once Yzerman took over. Perhaps he will thrive on a far better team, but his defensive liabilities and overall inconsistencies made him expendable for the Red Wings.

Acquiring draft picks is a fundamental part of a rebuild, but now the scouting department needs to make sure they do not go to waste.

Rachel Anderson: B+

Overall, Yzerman accomplished what he set out to do: Gather picks for the future. Trading Green and Athanasiou didn’t really come as a surprise to many. The return, though, was a little lighter than what I had anticipated. Green has battled injuries and wasn’t really skating to his full capacity in Detroit and Athanasiou was inconsistent, which caused plenty of questioning. 

Yzerman’s overall plan isn’t to have a Stanley Cup-contending team in a season or two. In fact, in his press conference following the deadline, he spoke about it in terms of four or more years. The acquisitions—Gagner and Timashov—give the Red Wings a couple chances to find players who fit the overall plan. If they fit, they stay. If not, we’ve got a fine collection of picks in upcoming drafts as well. 

The AHL moves, Ryan Kuffner lumped in with Athanasiou and Charles-Edouard D’Astous getting assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins from the Toledo Walleye is an intruiging bit out of all of this. Assigning D’Astous, a defenseman, almost has an air of much more to come for the future of the Detroit blue line. The AHL trade deadline is fast approaching as well, so it could very likely mean that a few more moves will be made to create a stronger defensive core for the future. 

I gave Yzerman a B+ because though the moves were smart and safe. I trust the Yzerplan, but half-expected a bit more drama. All in all, the plan will take awhile to unfold and its become very clear that the draft and minor-league development is how he wants to create the new foundation. I’m all in favor of that. 

What trade deadline grade would you give to the Detroit Red Wings? Comment below.

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