Detroit Red Wings Primed to Sell at Trade Deadline
It took longer than most years, but we’ve finally reached the point where we can say—with confidence—that the Detroit Red Wings should be sellers at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline.
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The Red Wings have lost their last three games—all in regulation—giving up 12 goals while only scoring four. Detroit’s power play and penalty kill have also stumbled as of late.
Now, it’s time to look to the future. It’s time to sell at this year’s trade deadline.
Red Wings Falling in NHL Standings
Entering Tuesday’s contest against the Winnipeg Jets, the Red Wings sport a 16-15-7 record – good enough for sixth in the Atlantic Division. While there’s opportunity to improve that standing, they likely won’t jump ahead of the top-three teams—the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Tampa Bay Lightning—at this point.
So if the three Atlantic Division postseason spots are out of the question, what about the Wild Card? Can Detroit sneak into the playoffs as one of the last two Eastern Conference teams? Probably not. The Red Wings sit seven points back of the final Wild Card spot and have a tough schedule ahead. In fact, Tankaton’s model suggests that Detroit has the eighth-most difficult remaining schedule. Not ideal for a playoff push.
A postseason berth is not looking likely at this point. It could happen—MoneyPuck gives the Red Wings a 4.1 percent chance of reaching the playoffs—but chances are we won’t see playoff action in Hockeytown this year. What was once a distinct possibility is now just a dream.
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Detroit’s Roster Still Needs Improvement
While the Red Wings added several key contributors over the summer, the roster still needs work. Selling at the trade deadline can help illustrate where the Red Wings need the most help heading into the 2023-24 season.
The organization has a handful of pending unrestricted free agents (UFAs) who more than likely won’t be back, including Adam Erne, Pius Suter, and Oskar Sundqvist. It’s not that they don’t deserve another contract – the Red Wings just have quite a bit of depth that needs to be sorted through. So why not sell these players at the trade deadline?
Detroit should do the same with Olli Maatta and Jake Walman. Both could be re-signed to bolster the left side of Detroit’s blue line. They could also fetch a couple draft picks and/or prospects at the deadline in the interim.
If this team isn’t going to make the playoffs, the smart move is to move out the players who won’t be back next year and get an early look at prospects who could. Surely, most Red Wings fans would like to see Elmer Soderblom back in Detroit. It would be nice if Simon Edvinsson, Pontus Andreasson, Jared McIsaac, and Cross Hanas could get Hockeytown cameos as well.
Related: Red Wings’ Lineup Set to Evolve with Key Players Returning
With a little help, next year’s team has the potential to do some damage. Selling now can bring in the assets—prospects, picks, and cap space—to get that help.
Earlier this season, I sought out to determine if the Red Wings were playoff contenders or pretenders. The data said the latter, and it’s becoming more and more evident as we progress through the campaign.
Sure, injuries and extended absences have prevented us from seeing a fully healthy lineup, but that’s also the reality of any NHL season. The Red Wings did their best to stay afloat. Now, it’s time to acknowledge their situation by selling at the deadline to collect even more picks and prospects.
Tony Wolak is based in the Washington D.C. area and covers the Detroit Red Wings for THW. As a former junior and college hockey player, Tony has a unique perspective on Red Wings topics.