Numerous General Managers would state that a league’s trade deadline is a great way to spark new life into their clubs. Some of the NHL’s brightest stars have been part of blockbuster deadline deals in recent years. Yet, to the chagrin of the fans, the Detroit Red Wings have watched the deadline deals just pass them by. The usual reason for this has been the notion that Red Wings GM Kenny Holland likes to pinch the dollars right up to the salary cap the NHL imposes annually. This season has been unlike the most recent others. Holland was able to balance a budget during the offseason that left a substantial amount of cap room ($5.5+ million dollars) for the Red Wings to acquire a deadline piece. A mostly injury free season (knock on wood) and superb offensive contribution has made the message transparent. The Red Wings do not need to add another piece to the already formidable puzzle.
As a sports team, building a winner starts from front office all the way to the on-ice product. The Red Wings are extremely fortunate to have an owner like Mike & Marian Ilitch to provide a winning culture to Hockeytown. This current group of players have managed to earn 69 points and gain the best record currently in the Central Division. The defensive lapses of yesteryear have been removed this season, leading to a +45 goal differential in the NHL. This ranks 2nd only behind the Boston Bruins (+70). Crucial playmakers like Valtteri Filppula (15 G, 25 A, 18.3 Shot %), linemate Jiri Hudler (16G, 17A, 22.2 Shot %), and newcomer Ian White (24 PTS, +28) have elevated the team’s play and rapport. The Red Wings are also extremely hard to beat at home this season which is seen in their current 17 -game home winning streak. If the Red Wings do decide to add a prime new piece to the roster, there is an abundance of quality players available.
Another defensive option would be Minnesota’s Marek Zidlicky. The 34-year-old Czech native is reminiscent in his play of current Wing Brad Stuart with his reserved personality and great defensive instincts. The Red Wings have also been clamoring for another right handed shooting player, and Zidlicky fills this need. He is disgruntled over his current playing time in Minnesota, but a change of scenery for Zidlicky would be monumental in his quest to become a Stanley Cup Champion.
A slew of forwards are also available and on the Red Wings’ radar. Guys like Tuomo Ruutu, Ales Hemsky, and Ryan Smyth might be viable options for the Red Wings moving on. Ruutu might be the best option both fiscally and productively for the Wings. He has played on all four lines this season in Carolina, racking up 27 points and 40 PIM in 53 games.
This kind of versatility paired up with his young age (28) and his European descent would make the transition to the Red Wings an easy one. What the Hurricanes might ask for in return though, could devestate the progress the Red Wings have built already in their youth. Thus, trading for a guy like Ruutu might not be worth the pieces the Wings give up.
With the Red Wings currently on a Western Canada road trip, we will have to wait and see if a deal is made before landing back at the Joe. The Red Wings have comfortably placed themselves in a position to where a move is not needed to win the Cup. If Holland decides to call around for the services of other players, it will enhance the team’s play. But with a youth movement in place and an even distribution of goals and overall play, the Red Wings are best suited to watch the rest of the League fight for this year’s coveted deadline players. The NHL Trade Deadline is February 27th, 3pm EST.