Unless you live under a rock in the hockey world, you know that Thursday afternoon seemed to come with a bombardment of huge announcements, coming mostly from the Philadelphia Flyers.
First, the Flyers slightly caught the NHL fanbase off guard by trading Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets in return for Jakub Voracek and the Jackets' first and third-round draft picks. This was a trade that had been rumored about for the last few weeks but didn't really pick up any major hype.
Then, the Flyers shocked everybody, including their own fans, by trading Captain Mike Richards to the LA Kings in the same hour that they sent Jeff Carter to Columbus. In return, the Flyers received restricted free-agent Wayne Simmonds, and hockeysfuture.com's No. 1 prospect, Brayden Schenn.
Following both earth-shaking trades, the Flyers signed 30-year-old Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year contract worth $51 million, with a salary cap hit of $5.67 million a year.
Now, these moves certainly affect all teams in the Atlantic, Central and Pacific divisions, but it would seem to me that it affects the Red Wings in particular.
For starters, the Wings certainly won't be encountering Bryzgalov in the first round of the playoffs again. Bryzgalov and the Red Wings may not have been rivals, but after two straight playoff appearances together, they were about as close as it came.
Speaking of which, I have to wonder if Philadelphia watched Bryzgalov's most recent playoff performance before they decided to offer him nearly $6 million a year for the rest of his career.
Anyways, the Jeff Carter trade affects all teams in the Central division. It's certainly a statement from the Columbus Blue Jackets. While they're far from being a playoff contender, the trade shows they're serious about getting better as a team, and it's pretty low risk for them, considering they don't seem to draft too well anyways.
Moreover, it gives Rick Nash something he's never had in his NHL career—a decent center to play with. Nash was certainly jumping for joy when he heard of the trade, but once again, building one good line won't make you a playoff contender, and Columbus still has a lot of work to do on their defense and depth. Detroit and all teams in the Central had better be on the lookout for the pairing of Nash and Carter.
You're probably thinking that's the most significant trade in relation to the Red Wings, and it may very well be, but depending on how the rest of the offseason plays out, the Mike Richards trade to the Kings could be huge for Detroit.
Now I'm sure you're wondering why this could be so huge for Detroit, and you'll definitely think I'm crazy when I suggest this but allow me to dream for a minute.
We have to begin by explaining LA's current cap situation. Since acquiring Mike Richards, the Kings now have roughly $9.5 million in cap space. (including a cushion). With 10 forwards, five defensemen and two goalies under contract, the Kings will have to sign, at minimum, four players. However, they would be better suited to sign five or the team maximum of six players.
If the Kings go in the middle and sign five forwards, they will be able to spend an average of roughly $1.9 million per player to do so.
One of the Kings' free agents is star defender Drew Doughty.
Detroit has made it no secret that they will be looking to smash the ball out of the park this season when it comes to defensive free agents. While names like Kevin Bieksa, Christian Ehrhoff and James Wisniewski have been buzzing around Detroit, the Red Wings would almost certainly love to have a defenseman in his early 20s who could turn out to be a generational player.
The point here is, Detroit has $16 million in cap space and very little to spend it on. An offer sheet of $7 million or more could end up putting Los Angeles out of the game altogether, and provided the contract didn't exceed $7.8 million, Detroit would only be required to give up two first-round picks, with a second and third-round pick added in.
Could Detroit be a major player for Drew Doughty?
Now, before we get too excited about that, there's been some buzz around Los Angeles about possibly trading Ryan Smyth. However, that buzz may be fabricated. The team at the front of the rumors to receive Smyth is the Calgary Flames. The flaw in that rumor is that the Flames only have $7 million in cap space while Smyth's cap hit is $6.25 million.
So the question really is, would the Flames move heaven and earth to trade for a player that is 35 years old and puts up less than 50 points with a hefty price tag?
The answer to that is likely, no. Los Angeles has other trade options, however, which could still benefit Detroit in the end. Ken Holland has said he has been talking to other GMs a lot, and it's no secret that Jiri Hudler might be on his way out of Detroit. Holland could end up packaging a deal to add Jack Johnson to his blue line.
If that were the case though, Hudler likely wouldn't be a part of the deal, as LA's whole intention would be to clear cap space for Doughty.
It's all speculation at this point, but three months from now, we might be looking back at Philadelphia's trades and seeing how much of a rift they caused around the league. It may be unlikely, but we could be looking at how LA's acquisition of Mike Richards caused Detroit to get Jack Johnson, or even Drew Doughty.