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2018 Detroit Red Wings Trade Deadline Grades


Source: Leon Halip/Getty Images North America

I should call these yearly posts something clever. Something like…Wheelin’ and Dealin’.

But you’re not here for puns. You’re here for TRADE DEADLINE. The one day a year where NHL GMs all do things they we all think are mostly crazy and yet also make a lot of sense. This year felt weirder and weirder as the weekend went on. Karlsson, McDonagh, Nash, Brassard, there were a lot of names out there and deals were all hung up on who was going to pay for what. And in the last hour, we got a bevy of deals done by a lot of teams. Though it seemed for most of the weekend with no rumors about the Red Wings out there, Kenny was able to get some deals done before 3pm today. Let’s break them down

Petr Mrazek to Philadelphia Flyers for a  2018 Conditional 4th and a 2019 Conditional 3rd

So first let’s break down those conditions:

  • The 2018 pick is guaranteed to be at least a 4th. If Mrazek wins 5 games for Philly and they make the playoffs, it becomes a 3rd. If they make it to the conference finals and Mrazek wins 6 playoff games, it becomes a 2nd.
  • The 2019 pick is only given to Detroit if the Flyers resign him

First of all, Mrazek has already won 2 games for the Flyers and I think they have a pretty good chance of making the playoffs, so this in all likelihood becomes a 3rd this year. I do not have high hopes for them making the finals, but if so bully for us. I like the 2019 pick as insurance against Mrazek becoming some sort of dominant force that Philly re-signs without us getting anything in return, but in all honesty they probably let him walk to UFA. I am not 100% positive but I believe they can attempt to sign him to a deal without being forced to match his current salary, so if he does get really hot there is a little bit of hope for that 3rd rounder next year.

As for the deal, what can I say that hasn’t already been said before? Mrazek is a good goaltender who struggles with consistency. There are pretty substantial rumors about him being some sort of problem in the locker room. I would have rather stuck with the young guy and moved Howard but clearly the relationship between Mrazek and Management was strained. This was a good trade to get what we could get for him, and I give Ken Holland credit for jumping on Philly when they got their injuries. The only thing I’ll say is if Mrazek does turn into a top 10 goalie in the league, this trade will look really, really bad in hindsight. For now, I’m good with it.

Grade: B

Tomas Tatar to Vegas Golden Knights for a 2018 1st, a 2019 2nd, and a 2021 3rd

This was when my holy shit quotient for the day really exploded. I did not expect such a return for Tatar. I definitely thought he was worth a 1st, but to get a 2nd and a 3rd as well is just a fantastic rebuilding trade. It sounds like Vegas was hard in on Karlsson and when they couldn’t get him, they fell back and snatched Tatar at the last minute. More gain for us by them overpaying a bit last second. That’s a huge $5.3M cap hit off the book for the next 3 years as well as a roster spot opened up for a young player (Rasmussen sounds to be pushing for a roster spot out of camp next year to the sigh of relief from our PowerPlay).

The only thing bad about this trade is how much I liked Tatar as an on ice personality and the wealth of gifs he’s provided over the years. I wish him well in Vegas. Dance on my man.

Grade: A

The Deals That Weren’t

There were so many rumors, it would be remiss not to talk about these.

First of all, I think we all assumed Mike Green being traded was a foregone conclusion. What happened instead was a combination of a lot of factors.

  1. I don’t think the league was ever really high on Mike Green. Generally speaking I think they consider him an offensive middle pair guy who makes a lot of mistakes on the back end at best. No one thinks he’s 70+ point Mike Green anymore.
  2. He has missed 5 games straight with injury and doesn’t know when he’ll be back yet. That’s a lot of risk if you are picking up a rental to win now
  3. He had a full NTC and would have had to waive it for any move. There are multiple rumors about this. I heard he refused to waive for Toronto. I heard he only waived for Washington or Tampa. I heard he didn’t waive at all because talks never got that far. Hard to know the truth out of these.
  4. Karlsson and McDonagh were the two big names waiting to fall, and they didn’t fall until the very last minute. Really lowered his value knowing what other defensemen were on the market.

All of this means it makes a lot of sense that Green was traded. Though I am pretty upset (I think we should have moved him when the playoffs became a pipe dream over a month ago, personally. Would have been good to get Hicketts up here again), I understand the inability to trade him. What I don’t understand is that we have apparantly approached him about signing an extension. That, to me, makes no sense for the future of this team and I worry what contracts will suffer because of it. I’d rather keep the cap space open for the future, because we have a huge history of overpaying on cap hit and term. That makes me a bit more skeptical of the situation. Seems to me like maybe they didn’t try too hard to move him.

Next, Toronto apparently offered a 5th for Luke Glendening. Holland wanted a 2nd.

I like Luke Glendening a lot. I think he’s a smidge overpaid but he brings a lot to the table at the 4th line and I am not sold that Turgeon can come in and be as good. I think the potential money you save replacing him with a kid from Grand Rapids is negligible at best. I’d be happy with him playing out his contract here.

That said, this should be fire sale season. You get ANY pick for a player with term, and you take it. Statistically once you’re out of the second round the draft is a wash anyways. Kenny should have taken the 5th, no question.

Finally, teams apparently called about DeKeyser. That was all the rumors. Same as above. DDK has an albatross of a contract that you move if you can, but I guarantee you KH did not listen to offers seriously. It’s the same narrative we saw last year. He does just enough to stop you from having a full meltdown, but all the actions he takes implies that he still thinks we’re a bubble team that can push for the playoffs. The management’s philosophies are broken right now, and if they keep waffling on what they want the team to do it’s just going to hurt us more in the long run.

So as a grade for all he potentially could have done, I give KH a grade of D-

Grade: D-

Overall, I am satisfied but underwhelmed by this trade deadline. I like that we have the most draft picks going into the draft at 11. I like that we got so much for Tatar. I am terribly worried that management is going to do something really stupid this offseason (I’m talking about re-signing Ken Holland so he can’t go to Seattle). We’ll have to wait and see. At the very least, we can talk solace in the fact that there is still time to make trades before the draft. Maybe some of these pieces will finally be moved.

Final Grade: C

Half in the (Mail)bag – Thoughts Halfway through the Red Wings’ 2017-2018 Season

The Wings after giving up a late goal against Dallas Tuesday. Photo Credit David Guralnick of the Detroit News


Once again we find ourselves half way through a season rife with ups and downs. As of writing the Wings sit at 18-19-7, good for 43 points and, surprisingly, 4th place in the Atlantic. If that sounds like we’re close to a playoff berth, let me set the record straight: we are not. We are 11 points behind Toronto with only 2 games in hand, and only 1 point above both Montreal and Florida. Let’s call this what it is. This is a lottery year, and the only thing we can realistically hope for over the next 41 games is that the young players continue to improve while we stay low enough to get a top 10 pick. In the meantime, here’s some things I’ve thought about this season thus far.

Dylan Larkin Took 5 Steps Forward

(Photo: Gregory Shamus, Getty Images)

If last year was 2 steps forward and 1 step back with Larkin in his sophomore slump, this season was him taking 5 straight steps forward.  Larkin seems motivated in showing that he was not just a flash in the pan his rookie season. He has firmly cemented his role as a center in this league and has put together a fantastic 200 foot playmaking game. Last season, Larkin scraped together 32 points in 80 games, this season he has 38 points already and we’re only at the 44 game mark. Currently, his Points Per Game is double of last season, and he has already set a career high in assists. As a center, he’s doing well in the faceoff dot with a 51.3% win rate.

But Larkin’s surge this season is more than just stats. He’s looking like a future Captain, the type of piece that you use to set your team up for a Stanley Cup run. He is tenacious like a dog on a chew toy in both ends of the ice, he has turned our PK into arguably a more dangerous weapon than our PP, and many nights his effort on the ice seems to be leading the team, not Zetterberg’s. All in all, he is one of the most fun players on the team to watch and I hope we get to watch him for years and years to come.

Free Agents Underwhelm

Last season, the only free agent signing I truly liked was Thomas Vanek. Nielsen was competent but I’m still undecided if he is worth the contract away from Tavares, and Steve Ott was a confusingly pointless signing to top it off. This year, Ken Holland one upped that by bringing in no contracts that I truly like: Trevor Daley, David Booth, and Luke Witkowski.

Let me start with Witkowski, as I think he’s the easiest to explain my complaints. He is not a good hockey player. Witkowski is a fighter/penalty earner. He’s a tough guy a la John Scott, who has the bonus of being able to play forward and defense. I say bonus, but I’m lying. He’s a defenseman by experience and yet after Tampa played him on forward because of injuries now he plays forward for the Red Wings. I do not agree with players like this. I firmly believe that icing a player who is out there to be a tough guy starts more fights than it stops, because they have to prove themselves to keep their job. And as it is, he has one of the worst CF% on the team at 45.5 while also producing no points and 48 penalty minutes in just 15 games. There is no one in Grand Rapids I would not rather have on the 4th line than this guy, and Ken Holland signed him to two years.

David Booth earned his one year contract in the preseason and while I don’t love him over one of the kids, you need healthy scratches and mostly I’m okay with him. He’s got 3 goals and 1 assist in 16 games, which is better than Witkowski at least. Not much to this one.

Trevor Daley is a contract that I like on principle. Relatively low cap hit of 3.16M for 3 years, adds a veteran presence to your blue line. Possibly trade chip. But his production has disappointing after seeing him billed as an on the rush defenseman, with only 3 goals and 4 assists, and 6 of those points have been in just the last 15 games according to Ken Daniels. He feels like a signing that was designed to push the team out of the bubble and into the playoff spot, but instead now he’s taking away cap space that could be used to sign all the pending RFAs we have next season. All in all, he has been so unremarkable in every way that I can’t help but wish that we had taken a chance on Joe Hicketts to start the season or something.

Jeff Blashill’s Process is Making Me Pull My Hair Out

Blashill’s line blending is about as effective as my Photoshop skills

This is another tough one to see this season. As a season where you expect to perform poorly, you would also expect the young players to be given more responsibility. This is the time where they can learn through making mistakes, and they can be more well rounded the next season. It’s the ideal time to give them NHL experience, when there’s less on the line.

Instead, Blashill’s process has mostly boiled down to blending lines and punishing the young players ice time for the slightest missteps. It took until around the New Year for Athanasiou to start getting regular time in the top 6, and we can see some of this deployment strategies in this awesome chart from Micah Blake McCurdy:

Chart created by Micah Blake McCurdy

Here we can see that Athanasiou, over this season, is not getting iced when the Wings need to score or when they need to defend a lead, putting him firmly in the “why are you even on the team” section. It’s frustrating as hell when we know what he can do in the offensive zone to see his leveraging closest to Jensen and Ouellet (arguably our worst defenseman and a healthy scratch respectively. Meanwhile, Abdelkader is getting shoved out there for EVERYTHING.

AA is the best example of Blashill’s mysterious process because I don’t understand what it’s supposed to accomplish. You tell a player he has holes in his game, don’t give him the ice time to improve them, and then when he does make a similar mistake again you dock him more ice time. It feels like a vicious cycle of taking away the few bright spots we have. And now that AA is moved up finally, Mantha is starting to be moved down because he’s not producing like he was at the start of the season. I find it interesting that Toronto appears to be going through the exact same thing right now with Mike Babcock, former Red Wings coach (hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…)

There are other decisions I don’t understand either. Our 3v3 OT record is terrible (I think we haven’t even won more than a single game in OT, which was thanks to AA) and yet somehow we started with Nielsen instead of Larkin or AA more times than I can count. Justin Abdelkader is second on the team for average PP TOI a game. Niklas Kronwall is the second PP unit defenseman instead of Daley. Just a lot of weird line up decisions and deployment strategies that, in the end, are not adding up to wins. I don’t think his coaching style works, and I don’t think we’re going to see a change until the end of the season, so I guess just strap in.

Bonus Mailbag Time!

Look I’m just a reactionary blogger with no inside track, but here’s what I think happens: Ken Holland gets extended and Jeff Blashill stays.

I’M JOKING. There’s probably only a 30-50% chance that happens.

Seriously though, I think that Holland probably retires and Kris Draper takes over. He’s the “special assistant to the general manager” (what is this, The Office?) and I’ve heard rumblings that he is who some upper management would like to bring in. The Illitchs don’t strike me as outside hire people, though it’s hard to say now that Mr. I is gone, and Draper would fit as someone inside the org to promote. He’s got the feel good story with the fans as well. Same with the head coach: if Blashill does get the boot, they may very well just grab Todd Nelson from Grand Rapids.

Now, what would I like to see?

Sergei Fedorov has expressed interest before in an NHL GM job. Bring him in as a fresh outside hire that still makes the fanbase light up when they hear his name. Hire him in the offseason and add his jersey to the rafters next season. Then, in this fantasy world, Todd McLellan gets fired this season and Fedorov scoops him up as head coach. Wings pick 1st overall and snag Dahlin and I can stop being so bitter on the internet all the time.

But yeah, I feel like a Draper/Blashill combo to start next season is fairly likely. Oh, and don’t hang your hopes on Stevie coming back. There’s no way he leaves the Lightning before they win a cup. It’d be like doing all the work on a school project and then letting that asshole who skipped every meetup put his name at the top.

God, this is Vollman’s Trade Matthews piece all over again. Let me break down what we have here as an asset:

  • Dahlin or Svechnikov/Zadina (whoever you think is #2, I’m torn on the two)

And giving up we have the follow contract’s cap hit

  • Abdelkader for $4.25M until 22-23
  • Dekeyser for $5M until 21-22
  • Helm for $3.85M until 20-21

Total value of $13.1M/year coming off the cap right now.

At a certain point, you have to agree to a deal because it would be stupid not too. Even the Oilers would be stupid not to trade us McDavid if we offered them Larkin, Mantha, Athanasiou, and our next 5 first round picks. So the shrewd businessman in me says yes, you gotta give up that pick in order to give yourself cap space. And that’s a lot of cap space. That puts you in the market for some serious Free Agents. Karlsson/Doughty free agents. Cap space is power. Couple that with the fact that we’d be losing 3 highly overpaid players that are clogging our roster up right now, and it’s kind of a no brainer to accept this trade.

More realistically would be perhaps one of those players getting taken off the book by a team looking to trade up. That’s a hypothetical where I would be more likely to hang on to it. For example, if the Wings won the draft lottery and moved into the top 2, or even the top 3, and Arizona offered to pull us back to 4-8th in exchange for Abdelkader, I’m not sure I’d take it. His contract is bad, but there’s a lot of money coming off the books in the next 3 years and not a lot of standout prospects to restock the team. Nyquist, Zetterberg, Kronwall, and Green are all probably gone in some way over the next 1-3 years. If I can replace one of them with Svechnikov/Zadina or Dahlin, I think I’d suffer through having Abdelkader signed until the sun burns out.

Thanks for the question Cameron, and for reminding me that I should stick to NHL GM mode because trades are hard. (If you haven’t, check out Cameron’s work for Wings Nation. They are all great reads.)

So that’s it for the first half of the season. Let me know what you thought were the big storylines.

Luke Glendening is the Perfect 4th Liner

Luke Glendening after sniping a beauty pass Scott Wedgewood this season.

We like to throw the word contract around a lot in Detroit, usually immediately followed by some sort of ritualistic cleansing lest Ken Holland sign someone else to 4 years. Slightly below that in terms of things we like to complain about is “Bottom 6 forwards”, which I don’t think anyone will disagree we have too many of. Poor Luke Glendening, entering his 5th season on the Red Wings, exists at the intersection of these two things. Yet, of all the players we’ve locked down for a multi year deal to play bottom line minutes, Luke Glendening is the only one I really like right now.

That’s because he’s been damn good in his role this season.

So far in 28 games, Glendening has 6 goals and 1 assist this season. He is half way to hitting his career high in goals (12 in ’14-’15) on a Red Wings team that barely manages to hold their own every other night. He’s a third of the way towards getting his career high in points (21 in ’15-’16’ when he also came in 40th for Selke voting which is something I did not know). But his goals are a bonus, because Glendening is that stereotypical player that we talk about so much, the player that lives and dies on a diet of Grit and Intangibles.

This is where Glendening has shined this season, in his role as a shutdown fourth liner. With the increase in penalties this season Glendening has been given the opportunity to embrace this role even more than he already does with good results. He leads our team in defensive zone starts percentage with 60.7%, third on the team in average short handed TOI a game.

A huge part of starting in the defensive zone and playing the PK is winning faceoffs. So how does he stack up in those areas?

Not only does Luke lead our team in faceoff win percentage at 60.1%, he is third in the league in faceoff win % among players taking more than 100 faceoffs so far (Ryan O’Reilly with 61.2 and Antoine Vermette with 60.8%, if you were curious). He is a huge reason that our team sits at an 82% penalty kill this season. His strong play on the PK extends beyond getting the puck in the defensive zone. More times than I can count, he has been there with Larkin this season to make an offensive rush happen short handed without causing a defensive lapse that goes the other way, or just simply hemming in the other team like a pair of angry hornets.

Outside of special teams, he’s still making his presence known to the other team. He’s second on the team in hits, second in shots to get through to the net, third in blocked shots. He’s playing a well rounded game in a specific role and is doing a better job than he ever has before this season. With so many people talking about players regressing under Jeff Blashill, it’s nice to see someone taking a step forward.

The best part of all of this? At 1.8M in cap hit, he’s one of the best values on the team for what he brings to the table. When we look at players like Justin Abdelkader or Jonathan Ericsson, we see average or perhaps one dimensional players with huge numbers attached to them. Frans Nielsen is have a horrid year on faceoffs and he’s making 5.25M to do so. Even Darren Helm is essentially signed for the exact same role as LGD just for almost 2M more a year to do it. We have plenty of bad contracts to give us ulcers. With Luke Glendening, we don’t have anything like that worry about.

All we have to do is watch him do his thing.


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