In his recent piece, At The Halfway Mark: NHL Buyers and Sellers - Western Conference , Featured Columnist and senior writer extraordinaire Mark Ritter assigned a 'seller, 'buyer,' or 'undeciced' label to each Western Conference team.
As always, Mark's arguments were well informed, supported by sound reasoning and, at least for my money, spot on.
He labeled the Red Wings as 'undecided,' again a title I agree with.
However, at the end of his piece, he speculated if the Red Wings would "ever dare exploring offers for Nick Lidstrom."
Now, Mark's a good guy and great writer, not one prone to throw out ridiculous scenarios for the sake of controversy.
However, he is covering the Philadelphia Flyers this season so I thought he might simply be a bit punchy from the experience and figured that the unforgivable audacity to even mention such a thing could be, well, forgivable.
As I was about to toss this idea out of my head as totally improbable and not even worthy of being filed off into the back of my mind, I paused.
Could the Red Wings consider trading the best defenseman they've ever had?
It was, as Mark asserted, an interesting question.
Well, citing Gretzky's Law that states, 'If Wayne Gretzky can be traded, then any player can be traded,' the Red Wings would not be violating the laws of the hockey universe if they traded No. 5.
Gretzky's Law (if this has been previously coined please let me know, for the time being, I'm assuming I've planted a flag here) is handy when considering such scenarios because there's a lot packed into it.
A player who is a team captain, a winner of Stanley Cups, and one of the best players the game has ever seen is still capable of being traded because Wayne Gretzky was all of these things.
So clearly, the answer to the question of whether or not Lidstrom could be traded (his no-movement clause not withstanding), is 'yes'.
This got me thinking even further.
Detroit could trade Nick Lidstrom, but should they?
The Red Wings have struggled mightily as a whole this season, with some players' performance dipping more significantly than others. Lidstrom is one such player.
His single goal in 43 games played this season came 40 games ago and he's gone as many as seven games in a row without recording a single point, something extraordinarily rare for Lidstrom.
He is on pace to finish the year with the lowest regular season point totals of his NHL career, and at 39, has lost a step or two and is certainly not that far from retirement.
Lastly, if one wanted to bring up the vulgar issue of finances, he is currently the Wings' highest paid player at $7.45 million and is in his final contract year. Shedding his salary would not only allow for a significant return in trade but an even greater amount to spend on free agents over the summer.
Individually, applied to anyone else's 'franchise defenseman', these reasons may be compelling enough to seriously consider making a move at the trade deadline to get a potentially huge return in time for the playoffs (this is assuming the Red Wings even make it).
But, the Red Wings shouldn't trade Nick Lidstrom.
Lidstrom's dip in scoring is hardly worth wringing one's hands over as the entire team has been offensively challenged for most of the season. And even despite his uncharacteristically low point totals, he is still the team's leading defensive scorer, fifth leading scorer overall, and leads the team in plus-minus at +12.
Most of all, he has those ever intangible elements of leadership and influence that, especially come playoff time, are worth their weight in, well, whatever your really, really like.
So, we've got the "coulda" and "shoulda" out of the way, now, on to the "woulda".
Would the Detroit Red Wings ever trade Nicklas Lidstrom?
The Red Wing organization is nothing if not loyal.
If you come into their system, play hard and contribute to winning a Cup, they're going to walk through fire to make sure you're a permanent member of the family.
They'll give washed up players second shots (eg: Chris Osgood and Darren McCarty), ensure that veteran players continue to have a place on the team (eg: Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper) and even give you a spot in the organization once you retire (eg: Jiri Fisher and Steve Yzerman).
In short, you do right by them, and they'll do more than right by you.
Now, would the Red Wings get a big return if they traded Lidstrom this year, even considering his age and declining performance?
Sure they would.
If Lidstrom became available, 29 other teams would begin figuring out a way to bring him into their system and would offer a hefty package to make it happen.
However, assuming there's any suspense here, let me end it right now.
The Detroit Red Wings would never and will never trade Nicklas Lidstrom, for no player not named 'Yzerman' has done more for the Detroit Red Wings than Nick Lidstrom.
Nicklas Lidstrom is a Detroit Red Wing and will always be a Detroit Red Wing.
Were it not ubiquitous to the whole of humanity, I would cite the red and white blood cells in his veins as physical proof of this assertion.
In this highly competitive, meticulously managed and often coldly executed business that is the NHL, there are a precious few players that have earned the right to never be even thought of as anything but untouchable by their organization; Nicklas Lidstrom is one of these players.
The Red Wings trading Nicklas Lidstrom? It's an interesting thought, but will never be more than that.
Nicklas Lidstrom can, should, and will be a Red Wing for life.
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