Breaking Down the Biggest Rumors Surrounding Detroit Red Wings
Rather than dwelling on what went wrong, the club has gone back to the drawing board in order to reconfigure its priorities. Looking ahead, one thing is certain: The Red Wings need to make something happen.
The team still wants a right-handed shooting defenseman, and rumors continue to swirl regarding available options. A trade is the likeliest of scenarios, and more names have seemingly been thrown into the fire every day, including some remaining free agents.
On defense, Detroit looks identical to last season, much to the chagrin of Hockeytown. Detroit missed on free agents Matt Niskanen, Dan Boyle and Christian Ehrhoff, resulting in the re-signing of Kyle Quincey to an overpriced two-year contract worth $4.25 million annually.
General manager Ken Holland remains reluctant to move any of Detroit’s young prospects to acquire an impact player for its blue line. Unfortunately, he may be forced to compromise considering the team’s desperation and the near-bare market.
With that in mind, here is a look into the biggest rumors surrounding the Detroit Red Wings.
Mike Green, D: Washington Capitals
The Washington Capitals made, arguably, the biggest splash on July 1.
Does this make Mike Green expendable?
Orpik’s massive deal totals $27.5 million over five seasons, while Niskanen will rake in an exorbitant $40.25 million over the maximum seven years. To lend perspective, Washington has committed $11.25 million to two defensemen—that’s 16 percent of its payroll committed to eight percent of its roster.
With just 12 forwards under contract, the Capitals could use another body but have just $1.1 million in available cap space. They also have eight defensemen on the roster with one-way contracts.
With $6.08 million due this season, moving Green’s contract would solve all of Washington’s problems. A deal would free up roster space, provide salary-cap flexibility and possibly net a forward in return.
Detroit is easily the best trade partner available. Green would be the prototypical puck-moving, right-handed shot Detroit is looking for, and its $9.5 million in cap space would modestly handle his large contract.
Detroit would have trade Jakub Kindl to accommodate a deal for Green, but it may not be easy. Per Ansar Khan of MLive.com:
If the Red Wings acquire another defenseman, they likely will trade Jakub Kindl, who has three years at $2.4 million per season remaining on his contract. He regressed last season might not emerge from coach Mike Babcock's doghouse. The Capitals don't need a defenseman, however. That could be a sticking point in talks with the Red Wings.
The Caps have indicated they aren’t interested in moving Green at this time, as tweeted by TSN’s Aaron Ward. However, things could change over the course of the summer.
Tyler Myers, D: Buffalo Sabres
Another defenseman the Red Wings have been connected to for some time is the Buffalo Sabres’ Tyler Myers.
The 24-year-old Myers has already compiled 318 games of NHL experience, although much of it has been littered with inconsistency.
He brings a right-handed shot to the table, but more noticeably, Myers stands 6’8” and could be Detroit’s answer to Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins. Unfortunately, Myers will not come cheap.
Sabres GM Tim Murray still sees considerable value in Myers, and rightfully so as the 2010 Calder Trophy recipient. While he hasn’t put up the same numbers (11 goals, 37 assists) he did in his rookie campaign, the most recent edition of the Buffalo Sabres has not been impressive.
Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press indicated the price for Myers would be excessive:
Myers is Buffalo’s top defenseman and the asking price is going to start with one of Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar or Tomas Jurco. Buffalo might well ask for Anthony Mantha, but the Wings aren’t relinquishing him. One player alone wouldn’t do it, though — there would likely be a high draft pick involved, too, maybe even a second player, someone in his mid-20s.
That is a very steep price, but it's one Detroit may have to consider. It needs to improve in order to keep up in the Atlantic Division, let alone the rest of the league. Pending what players stand out in training camp, action could come closer to the end of the summer.
Detroit could use his services in every aspect of the game. His great size would be an excellent complement on the blue line, and the big man's heavy shot would be potent with the man advantage.
At just 24 years old, he would be a big part of Detroit’s defensive corps moving forward.
Keith Yandle, D: Arizona Coyotes
Of the big-name defensemen Detroit has been linked to in recent weeks, per St. James, Keith Yandle appears the most unlikely of trade acquisitions.
While Yandle is one of the best offensive-minded blueliners available, the asking price is similar to that of Tyler Myers, perhaps even more costly.
However, the Coyotes are “definitely willing” to move its franchise defenseman, per TSN’s Darren Dreger on a segment of Insider Trading.
Detroit would have to part ways with any of Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco or Anthony Mantha while including another roster player and a high draft pick. At 27 years old, it’s a matter of whether Yandle is worth the cost.
As the top defenseman for the Arizona Coyotes, he has scored double-digit goals in four of the last five seasons. The lefty also totaled 31 power-play points in 2013-14, tying Ottawa's Erik Karlsson for the league lead among defensemen. His 45 assists finished third.
If adding a left-handed impact defenseman was in the cards, it is hard to imagine why Detroit would have re-signed Kyle Quincey. With a back end full of lefties, trading for another, even of Yandle’s caliber, would not solve Detroit’s aesthetic issue.
With the possibility of dealing for Myers or Mike Green, Yandle in Detroit, especially at such a high cost, appears impractical.
Michael Del Zotto, D: Free Agent
Should the trade route prove too costly for the Red Wings, Michael Del Zotto is still swimming in the free-agent pool.
Del Zotto is a five-year veteran with 317 career games between the New York Rangers and Nashville Predators. After being acquired by Nashville in January, he was bought out this summer, becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Although, like Keith Yandle, he is left-handed and doesn’t help Detroit in its quest for a righty on the back end.
With 126 career points, the 24-year-old still has an entire career ahead of him, but for the moment, it is unclear where. Detroit could be a possible landing spot, but that idea has only been mentioned in passing, per Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.
Detroit would have to first decide the fate of its prospects. If it feels a trade for any of the previously mentioned candidates is too expensive, then Del Zotto could be an option at little expense.
Then the club would have to determine the fate of defenseman Jakub Kindl. Due $2.4 million annually for the next three seasons, Kindl would need to be dealt to free the roster space to accommodate.
As a left-handed shot, Del Zotto doesn’t present anything significantly desirable beyond what Detroit already has in its system. His upside is engaging, but it's not enough for Detroit to express serious interest until its other options have been exhausted.
Derek Morris, D: Free Agent
Detroit could eventually consider free agent defenseman Derek Morris.
Formerly of the Arizona Coyotes, Morris is a seasoned veteran who may have another few years left in the tank. The 35-year-old has a big right-handed shot from the blue line, but his production has unceasingly dipped over time.
He would not be the top-four talent Detroit prefers but could still add that missing element on the power play and provide support on the penalty kill.
With 15 years of NHL experience, he is not quite what Detroit has in mind and has only been cited by Khan as a low-cost alternative to the trade market.
Detroit’s current need creates a predicament that would be very costly in a trade. Perhaps if the club is still searching for that opposite-handed defenseman later in the summer, Morris could become more attractive.
He plays with a physical edge and would complement the bottom pairing as well as provide quality veteran leadership to a young defensive corps.
However, Detroit is pursuing an impact player for a much larger role. Unless every opportunity for a trade falls through, Morris should not be in the fold at any point.