For the first time in my life, and many other fans’ as well, the Red Wings were sellers at the trade deadline as we have effectively relinquished our 2017 playoff hopes. The streak will come to an end. A combination of injuries, poor player performance, and questionable coaching decisions seemed to doom the Wings to this outcome. Dwelling on the past will not help us for the future though, as a full rebuild may take multiple seasons should Detroit go down that path. Quicker results could happen, but Ken Holland would have to work some magic. Holland found himself in a new position when he was selling as well, trying to set the organization up for recovery in the future. Many have criticized our GM for years on his tactics in terms of trading and use of picks, but how well did he actually do as a seller? A few Winged Octopus writers decided to give their viewpoints on how Holland and the Red Wings did at the trade deadline, and as one can expect opinions vary. One opinion we all share is the desire for Detroit to climb back on top of the league, and we all anxiously await that day. Hopefully we can let the kids play and develop more for the coming season, and get a few wins to take into the offseason.
I felt that overall Ken Holland did approach this trade deadline with the right mentality…but may have slipped up a bit on a couple of things. Even though it hurts to see UFA Tomas Vanek get traded, I know it was in this teams best interest to trade him now or else potentially lose him for nothing. I was disappointed that the only thing we got in return from Florida after trading Vanek was a 3rd round pick and a young defenseman prospect (If Florida makes the playoffs we end up getting Arizona’s draft pick which is still a 3rd round pick but higher up). Many Red Wings reporters stated that not many teams generated much interest in Vanek, even though we all thought he would, so all we could get was a 3rd. I just don’t get why Holland didn’t wait it out longer throughout the day because maybe someone would’ve caved last second and gave us something better in return for him.
The trade deadline has come and gone as it does every year, only this year was different than usual. The Red Wings were sellers rather than buyers. Even now, a couple days after the fact, it still feels weird to think about. Red Wings’ fans have been spoiled over the last couple decades and now it is time for a tough reality check. The Wings have slowly been regressing the last couple years, but this year, age and bad contracts have finally caught up to them. Their performance this season has been lackluster to say the least and because of that, Kenny Holland was forced to sell at the deadline.
From the trades the Wings made they were all pretty even except for what they got in return for Thomas Vanek. I do believe the market was overhyped around Vanek, but the way he has played this season, he should have been able to bring in something more than a third round pick and Dylan McIlrath, a 24 year old defenseman with only 43 games of NHL experience. Personally, I think the Wings should have gotten a second round pick along with McIlrath, but that is just me. I think in a year or two that McIlrath will be one of the Wings top defensemen.
The other trades that Holland made were all pretty solid with equal return. Brendan Smith brought in a third round pick in the 2017 draft and a second round pick in the 2018 draft from the Rangers. Being traded to the Blackhawks, Tomas Jurco brought in a third round pick in the 2017 draft. The return for Jurco might seem low, but for how the Red Wings used him, it is a good return. Steve Ott, a great person, but not all that great of a player was traded to Montreal for a sixth round pick in the 2018 draft which is pretty good considering Ott was signed mainly for a veteran presence.
With all of these trades, it opens the door for the younger players to finally get more ice time or for a long overdue call up from Grand Rapids to Detroit. Personally, I have been saying it the last two years to let the young guys have a chance to prove themselves, because the veteran players were not getting the job done. Besides, it is not like the Wings could perform any worse with the young guys playing.
All in all I am content with Detroit’s moves prior to the trade deadline. Holland was able to get a guaranteed draft pick with every deal, which is what we are going to need to rebuild this team. After all, those picks can be used for possible trades next season or to move up further in the draft, so Detroit has options for future. Coupled with the amount of young talent chomping at the bit in our farm system, Detroit may only be two or three seasons out from being contenders again. Real quick, I’ll go over how I feel about each trade.
Tomas Jurco to the Blackhawks for a 2017 3rd round pick? PERFECT! Considering how little ice time he was receiving, coupled with a lack of production and injury trouble, this was the best case scenario for getting something out of essentially nothing. Jurco’s career will get a fresh start as well, which he entirely deserves considering how he was used (or not used) in Detroit. Brendan Smith going to the Rangers was necessary in my eyes, we can’t afford another overblown contract for a defenseman that was too inconsistent. I like Smith, but I found myself face palming far too often when he was on the ice. Otter’s trade was pretty much inevitable as his grit is invaluable to a playoff team, but other than that he doesn’t bring much to the table. So in my mind, Montreal’s sixth round pick is fair compensation.
Now, the most interesting trade was Vanek’s. A lot of people felt like Holland failed in this trade, getting a lot less than what he should have. Fans tend to forget Vanek’s shortcomings though: he too is inconsistent and has never had an outstanding playoff year. Marketed as a playoff rental, in a league full of scoring wingers, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that his price was as low as it was. Realistically, who would have given up a first or second rounder for him? Most teams that are playoff bound have no problem scoring, or are far more interested in centers over wingers. For those clubs in the same spot as the Red Wings, it would be more beneficial to draft a younger winger with their 1st or 2nd round pick who can give you more time and commitment than Vanek, despite Vanek’s edge in skill. For these reasons I am actually happy with a third rounder and Dylan McIlrath. Who knows, a change of scenery may be what McIlrath needs to make it back into the NHL.