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MI • 43 Years Old • Male
The obvious answer is, of course. Trades can always happen, especially at the deadline when I expect the Wings to be out of contention. More pressing, however, is can Steve Yzerman make a significant move that will raise up the entire organization? This is one of those trades that will cost you. Someone is going to head out that could potentially become a difference maker somewhere else and make you look really bad if the return wasn’t worth it. I was stunned in the mid 90s when the Red Wings shipped out Paul Coffey. They brought in Brendan Shanahan. If you watch the old championship films you’ll hear the phrase “a little less pretty, a little more gritty.” Shanny proved to be the missing ingredient. It was a high price for the highest prize. Shanny was part of 3 Stanley cups.

Here’s the good news. Detroit doesn’t have Paul Coffey 2.0. And there isn’t a Brendan Shanahan for sale. The transaction won’t have such high stakes because we’re not talking about the one missing ingredient for a championship. We’re talking about contention. Still difficult, but not nearly as exacting.

My ideal trade, since Carolina drafted 2nd overall in 2018, is to send Evgeny Svechnikov to Carolina and try to get a defenseman. It’s a “feel good” trade. However, Evgeny missed last year and is at a very low trade value. He’d never fetch Hamilton but Faulk may become available more and more if it looks like Carolina can’t or won’t resign him. Still, it would require multiple pieces and becomes a losing scenario quickly for both sides. If Evgeny breaks out this year, we’ll revisit it.

We have a small set of forwards who could garner a lot of attention this year. Larkin has a chance to score 30 again, Mantha could score 30. Those two are staying. Bertuzzi will probably score 20ish but will be an assist maker for the other two. Every other forward we have is in “prove it” mode except for one. Athanasiou. 30 goals last year, and he will be on the wing this year. He could, hypothetically, outscore Larkin. He’s fast, strong and has good hands. If he plays with a good center every night, he should be noticeable nearly every night. Even when he doesn’t he seems to get 2 breakaways per game. One more item, it’s a contract year.

My last column touched on the fact that between the NHL and AHL we have nearly 20 free agents at the end of this year. That’s a lot. In Detroit, Mantha, Bertuzzi and Athanasiou are all RFAs. They will all be looking to have career years, and raises. I believe Mantha and Bert will be more easily signed. They love the line they play on and want to build it up. A.A. Will be tougher. He held out into training camp last time. If he does outscore Larkin, he probably won’t hesitate to ask for more money than the future captain. Larkin is at 6.1 right now and that looks pretty good.

Athanasiou should probably be considered untouchable, but the return could be substantial. Is this what Buffalo would want for Ristolainen? Could you pry a top defenseman from another team with speed and scoring? It would hurt. A lot. But Defense is where it feels like Detroit needs help outside of the draft. A trade for a younger D with a high ceiling makes a lot more sense than a 28 year old free agent right now. However, you’re sending out a player that could embarrass you when you play them again. A player that could score 30+ goals annually for someone else. Ouch.

However, at the moment, he is the most valuable and “realistic” card that Detroit has. I think Yzerman is wise to enter the season with what we have. If Rasmussen or Svechnikov can have a good showing through December, it is good news for the organization. We have assets with “potential” and it would be a huge lift to see that come to fruition. We need kids to “take” jobs from veterans. Force the coaching staff to scratch or waive someone. Hockey is still a “meritocracy” and we have huge contracts that aren’t going anywhere without a significant push
August 20, 2019 8:24 PM ET | Delete
Coffey wasn't the big piece in that Shanahan trade. He was at the end of his career at that point. Keith Primeau was the big piece (size included) going back in that deal that made it happen.Good blog but for me, i hope the Wings don't pull off a trade for a defenseman this season and screw with their chances at a top draft choice. Next summer or season then i would say go ahead and make a deal for one IF a good young one is available for a price that doesn't include the Wings making a hole at a different position on their roster to fill one.
August 20, 2019 8:36 PM ET | Delete
I love the feedback, thanks! My thoughts are toward the end of the year, but i can see your point. The problem has been the lotto. We finished 3rd worst and still picked 6th. I’m just not sure how to get around picking in that spot! I would be happy staying put if A.A. doesn’t turn into a really rough negotiation. RFAs have become seriously stressful, especially with a stagnant cap. Thanks for reading!
August 22, 2019 4:28 PM ET | Delete
If I'm Jason Botterill I do Ristolainen for Athanasiou, all day, every day. Risto is cap friendly and under contract, and Athanasiou is going to be pricey to sign, but player for player I still make the deal.
August 22, 2019 5:49 PM ET | Delete
Thanks for that! I feel like Buffalo has a surplus of what we need, and we may have the right piece to help Eichel make an incredibly dangerous line. It would be a bummer to watch A.A. score a ton but Risto could really fill a need. Thanks for reading!
August 31, 2019 7:43 PM ET | Delete
The only problem I have with Ristolainen is the problems he has in his own end, offensively he is fine. I would hesitate to make that trade at this point sending AA to Buffalo.
September 1, 2019 5:29 PM ET | Delete
Ya. We really need to make sure our D has the right balance (offense/defense) and support. The only reason I lead with A.A. is because i feel like his negotiation could be really tough. It feels like a “ceiling” has been set with Larkin and the other players will need to fall in line with that (like Duchene back in Colorado). AA could very well want 7 especially if he hits 30 or more.
September 25, 2019 6:14 AM ET | Delete
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