It was a good run for the boys in Detroit, after 25 seasons of making the playoffs it seems like this will be the year they don’t. They have 58 points in 60 games and sit in last in the Atlantic and second to last in the East, it is not going to happen for the Red Wings. They have really struggled this year with a -28 goal differential ranking 26th in goals per game and 25th in goals against to go with a 30th ranked power play and 17th ranked penalty kill. Their younger guys have struggled and besides Zetterberg and Vanek their older guys have not fared any better.When your leading goal scorer has 15 goals things are not going too well. The young guys, save Mantha, have not developed like they should have. Nyquist, Abdelkader, Tatar, Larkin, all have struggled at different points this year leading to this point in the season.
On the backend they have some work to do. Mike Green is having an alright season but is not living up to his $6MM cap hit. Dekeyser is a 26 year old young defenseman who still needs to develop and Niklas Kronwall can barely skate and is always a split second away from an injury.
What they are? Sellers.
Detroit needs to sell and luckily they have some assets.
Vanek: UFA after this year, and having a resurgence in Detroit, is signed for only $2.6MM. He is a prime deadline rental player who, in this sellers market, would fetch a nice return.
Steve Ott: Could fetch a late round draft pick but he is a depth/healthy scratch on any competitive team
Brandan Smith: He could play on a third pairing for a contender and maybe even go up to the second pairing if a team is desperate for defense (NYR maybe?). He only has a 2.75MM cap hit so he is affordable, the question is what is his value. Maybe a mid-round pick, or something as high as a 2nd round pick? Maybe. Remember Kris Russell fetched a nice return when Calgary traded him to Dallas last year. Smith isn’t as good as Russell but the market clearly is in need of a change.
In goal is Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek, both of these guys should be moved at the end of the season if DET can’t get anything done at the trade deadline. Howard is signed for 2 more years after this one and Mrazek for 1 before being a RFA. Too much of the DET cap hit is spent in goal considering the performance they have received.
Overall Detroit has so work to do especially considering the lack of development with their younger players. They need to trade assets and rebuild around their prospects, who are actually pretty good. This is not Detroit’s year. The 25 year playoff streak should have ended last year and has hurt DET ability to draft young players. It will be a change for Det to go home this early but in the long term plan may actually help them