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What the Red Wings Did – and Didn't Do – at the NHL Trade Deadline

At the NHL trade deadline, Steve Yzerman sold off bit pieces while keeping his current roster as competitive as possible. This off-season however, Yzerman will need to make difficult decisions.
Steve Yzerman

The Detroit Red Wings have been one of the most hotly followed NHL teams at the NHL trade deadline in recent years. First, it’s due to the perennial “seller” status the Wings have assumed due to abysmal on ice performance.

Next, it’s because the Wings have Steve Yzerman at the helm, seemingly pulling creative trades out of nowhere and receiving a bounty in return.

Last year, this came in the form of Yzerman’s blockbuster deal involving Anthony Mantha being shipped to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Jakob Vrana, a first and second round pick. It seemed like robbery…and it was. Then came Yzerman acquiring Calder candidate Alex Nedeljkovic for a third-round pick this off-season.

Prior to this, it was the ability to move players like Andreas Athanasiou, Mike Green, Patrik Nemeth, and accept the contract of Marc Staal in exchange for picks that kept the Detroit faithful believing.

With that history, fans were likely expecting Yzerman to pull off a similar deal this trade deadline to continue to impact his roster, which continues to remain bereft of depth and talent at many positions.

What Yzerman did instead was trade away Nick Leddy, Troy Stecher, and Vladislav Namestnikov for a trio (2nd, 7th, 4th) of draft picks, and two depth players (Jake Walman and Oskar Sundqvist).

It was a good return, especially in exchange for Leddy, but what the trades failed to do was significantly impact Detroit’s immediate or long-term future, and the path of their rebuild.

Detroit has capitalized at the draft recently selecting Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider, who now both look like draft steals. They also turned their second 1st round pick from 2021 into future franchise netminder Sebastian Cossa, and landed Simon Edvinsson who looks like another key building block on the blueline.

Beyond this group, Detroit has prospects and youngsters Jonatan Berggren, Albert Johansson, and Joe Veleno to look forward to.

The gap in Detroit’s current group of young players and prospects, however, appears when you look at the struggling or failed first-round picks of the Ken Holland regime in Filip Zadina, Michael Rasmussen, Denis Cholowski, and Evgeny Svechnikov. Two of those former first-round picks are no longer with the organization, and the other two, who were both top 10 picks, are underperforming their peers.

When you combine this with the fact that Detroit's current core of Tyler Bertuzzi, Filip Hronek, Dylan Larkin, and Jakob Vrana will either be at unrestricted free agency or approaching the wrong side of their prime by the time Detroit’s current group of prospects are contributing, it’s evident Steve Yzerman still has work to do.

Some saw this trade deadline as an opportunity for the Red Wings to plunge deeper into the rebuilding process by swapping any of Bertuzzi, Hronek, or Zadina for prospects and picks.

Zadina is in need of a hot streak or a fresh start, as his trade value will continue to decline with each season he fails to take a significant developmental step.

Yzerman’s inaction at the trade deadline, however, does not mean he won’t make a significant roster change in the offseason. After all, the youngsters currently on the roster, such as Raymond, Veleno, Zadina, and Seider still need to play around veterans. This offseason, Yzerman can address that veteran insulation via free agency, while still making a significant trade involving a player like Tyler Bertuzzi.

Bertuzzi will be an unrestricted free agent after next season, and would be a valuable top six addition to any contender in the league. He also presents the best opportunity on the Red Wings roster to squeeze final value out of Ken Holland’s failed salary cap era tenure.

At the NHL Draft, Bertuzzi would undoubtedly fetch a first-round pick and prospects. It’s a value too rich to pass up on for a team that still needs talent in the prospect pipeline.

At the 2022 NHL trade deadline, Steve Yzerman sold off bit pieces while keeping his current roster as competitive as possible. This off-season, however, Yzerman will need to make difficult decisions, which could involve trading some of the team’s longest-serving veterans. The decision to endure another year of struggle however, would almost certainly benefit the future of the Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup dreams.

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