For the first time in a long time, the Wings headed into the trade deadline as obvious sellers. Sad realization that the streak is over propelled the front office for early stages of a rebuild. Speculation over the past few weeks about many players would finally be answered.
General Manager Ken Holland started with a minor move. He sent Tomas Jurco to the Chicago Blackhawks for a third round pick in this years draft. His cap hit is 900,000 and is restricted free agent this summer.
This was a good move for both teams. Detroit never gave Jurco a fair shot and didn’t develop him fairly. He saw little ice time the past two years. When he did play, it was on the fourth line with players who wouldn’t help his production. Chicago took a low risk, affordable shot at him and he now has a ridiculously talented team to skate with. Jurco is a great bottom 6 guy for a team looking to go deep in the playoffs. He played on the third line in his Hawks debut and looked more energized then ever.
Brendan Smith was the next to go. Detroit tired to extend him – he’s an unrestricted free agent come off-season. They offered a 3 year deal at 3.5M a year, but he declined the offer. The New York Rangers in exchange gave us their 2nd round draft pick in 2018 and a 3rd round pick this year.
This deal made sense for both sides. Bias aside, Smitty was one of favorites, but extending him would continue our log jam in defense and hurt our tight cap. When he was scratched for the last 20+ games last season, you could tell his time with the Wings was running out.
The Rangers desperately needed help on their back end. They wanted Kevin Shattenkirk (now with Washington), but Smith was a backup plan. More then likely they will try to get Shattenkirk in the offseason, but extending Smith is also very likely. Smith isn’t the best defenseman, but he logs a lot of minutes and can play both sides. His 5v5 score-adjusted CF% ranks in the top ten in the league. He’s got a physical play that could help the speedy Rangers team.
During the Vancouver game, news broke that Steve Ott was getting traded. He was a healthy scratch for that game. Montreal sent their 2018 6th round pick in return.
This trade was.. interesting. The value of him wasn’t that high, and the fact that the Wings could snag another pick and free up roster space is a good thing. Making 800,000 a year he will also head into summer as a unrestricted free agent. Habs now have Shaw, Ott, and Gallagher, which is going to be fun to watch this spring.
The last deal Holland made came hours before the actual deadline. It came as little surprise that Thomas Vanek would be playing with a new team, but the return was disappointing. Ideally you would get a first round pick for him, but Detroit and Florida made a deal and got a third round pick in 2017 and defensemen Dylan Mcllrath (who will be assigned to the Griffins).
Detroit still hangs onto 50% of his salary ($2.6M). Another unrestricted free agent in the offseason, there is a chance he could sign with us again, but it’s a long shot. Pushing for a shot at the playoffs again, the Panthers get another forward to their depth at a good bargain.
Overall, I think Holland did a decent job. When you’re in a position to sell after a long time things can easily get complicated. For the most part, the returns for the 4 players moved exceeded my expectations. You wouldn’t be able to convince me that someone like Jurco or Smith could bring in high picks a week ago. 11 picks in 2017 and 9 in 2018 sound great for the future.
It stings to see players leave. Especially when they have brought talent to a team or have played a number of years with us. But now being stocked up for the next two drafts gives this team a chance to contend later on. Patience will be needed, but there are a lot of bright spots on this team.
Hopefully to end the season, the Wings can play spoiler to some teams. Maybe they call up some guys form the Griffins to get them playing time. Callahan got called up today after Ott’s departure. The Vegas expansion is soon and the offseason will be interesting to see what they do with their agents.
Either way, it was good to see the team take a big step in the right direction.