What a difference a few years can make. Since taking over as the Red Wings GM, Steve Yzerman has compiled a striking collection of budding NHL stars, many of whom have jumped onto the team’s roster and already become core players. Lucas Raymond currently leads all NHL rookies in points, Moritz Seider leads all rookies in assists, and Alex Nedeljkovic leads all rookie goaltenders in wins. The Wings could potentially have three Calder Trophy contenders on their roster at the end of this season; they certainly do right now. As such, Yzerman will likely see an opportunity to offload some veteran UFAs at this year’s trade deadline to collect some more assets and young players that will push this young Detroit team closer to the playoffs. Here are the most valuable trade pieces he has to work with.
At almost 29-years old, Namestnikov has already done his fair share of bouncing around the league. Originally drafted 27th overall by Tampa Bay in 2011, he has since played for the Rangers, Senators, and Avalanche before recently settling in Detroit. He’s a pending UFA making $2 million per year, sitting at 12 goals and 22 points in 46 games. Namestnikov is not a game-breaking player, but he makes for a middle-6 forward who can contribute reliably. There are likely some draft picks to be had in exchange for this player, although the Wings may choose to extend him. The only issue there is that, given he’s on the verge of leaving his prime playing years, Namestnikov may want a longer-term deal, something that could scare Detroit off.
Since coming over from the Islanders last summer, Nick Leddy has seen his play drop off somewhat. He’s hasn’t been a disaster, but 1 goal and 12 points in 44 games to go along with his -25 rating (his worst in 4 years) suggests that he was either benefitting from playing in the Islanders’ defence-first system or is struggling on a less competitive Detroit squad. Either one is fair, but for a guy making $5.5 million, he takes up a lot of salary for his play to be just mediocre. With all that said, he’s still just 30 years old and has plenty of game left to give. The Red Wings could get a good return from a contending team in exchange for a proven top 4 defender like Leddy.
Similar to Leddy, Greiss has had a tough time transitioning from the Islanders to the Red Wings. While he was playing well, it took him a while to manage his first win in a Wings jersey. Since then, he’s been good but not great, 6-7-1 with a 3.36 GAA and a .894sv%, handily beaten out for the starter’s net by the fantastic play of the aforementioned Alex Nedeljkovic. Now, Greiss is a pending UFA, and Detroit has an elite goaltending prospect in Sebastian Cossa who will look to steal the backup job in the next couple of seasons. Re-signing Greiss may not be in Detroit’s best interest, and therefore there’s a good chance he’ll be shipped off for assets. There is a huge market for goaltenders in the current NHL climate, and Greiss would be one of the better options available on the market.
The undrafted DeKeyser was once Detroit’s #1 option on the blueline, but injuries have decimated his playing career of late. Despite currently earning $5 million per year, DeKeyser has been relegated to third-pairing minutes and isn’t getting bumped up even with the current absence of Leddy and Troy Stetcher due to injuries. That cap hit is a sticking point, and the Wings may have to retain some salary to get a deal done, but despite that DeKeyser will draw some interest due to his previous high level of play, and the low-commitment factor of his pending UFA status.
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