NHL Trade Rumors, Detroit Red Wings: 3 Candidates for the Preseason Trade Block

Isaac SmithAnalyst ISeptember 15, 2011

NHL Trade Rumors, Detroit Red Wings: 3 Candidates for the Preseason Trade Block

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    The Detroit Red Wings have been very quiet as far as trading players away over the past few seasons.

    During the offseason, Detroit has usually rebuilt through free agency, rather than through trades.

    After watching Ville Leino do nothing in Detroit, and then leave and go on to greatness in Philadelphia (and now Buffalo), I can't blame the Red Wings for being reluctant to trade players.

    Additionally, Detroit has never had a lot of cap space at the trade deadline to take on extra salary.

    But this season is different due to the copious amount of cap space ($5.8 million per CapGeek.com). This would allow Wings GM Ken Holland to go out and get a higher-paid player at some time during the year to help Detroit later in the season.

    Who Ken Holland may try to acquire is up for debate, but there is a strong sentiment among Red Wings fans about who needs to be traded this season.

    This slideshow will go over the top three candidates that I see Detroit parting ways with this year at some point.

1. Johan Franzen

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    Johan Franzen has some illustrious playoff history with the Red Wings.

    His playoff success—nine goals in the 2008 playoff series against Colorado (two hat tricks), 23 points in 23 games in 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs, the four-goal, six-point game against San Jose last year—brought higher expectations from the fans in regards to his regular season performance.

    Last season, Franzen missed the bulk of the season with a torn ACL.

    But this past season was a new season.

    After his 34 goal campaign in 2009, some fans thought that he had an outside shot at 40 goals, and possibly 80 points.

    This past season, the healthy Franzen just seemed to be off of his game. He didn't break 30 goals, and didn't break 60 points.

    In the playoffs, Franzen was a non-factor after tweaking his ankle in the Phoenix series. He essentially limped around on one leg for the remained of both the Phoenix and San Jose series.

    His trade value is not going to increase at 31 years of age, and he is not the dynamic power forward he used to be a few years back.

    GM Ken Holland will certainly not let him go easily, and it would take a good offer to pry him from Detroit.

    I never thought I would be including Franzen on a trading block list, but it might be time to let the power forward go if he does not start producing like he is capable of doing.

2. Jonathan Ericsson

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    Now before you guys jump on me for wanting to trade the newly-signed Ericsson, recognize that this guy could now be the NHL's highest-paid fifth defenseman.

    Ericsson, a former ninth-round 291st overall pick, seemed to be another "diamond in the rough" for Detroit. But unfortunately for Detroit, not everyone they select in the sixth round or later (Datsyuk and Zetterberg) are going to become superstars.

    While Ericsson certainly isn't a superstar, he might not even make a top-four pairing on the team.

    Nick Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, Nick Kronwall, and now Ian White are all be better than Ericsson.

    The $3.25 million per season that Ericsson will make over the next three seasons seems like a bit of a waste when I look at Red Wings' top defensive prospect, Brendan Smith.

    Red Wings Director of Amateur Scouting, Joe McDonnell, said that Smith is "ready to play now" in regards to Smith's ability to play in the NHL.

    Smith is a first-round draft pick. He put up 32 points last year in 63 AHL games with Grand Rapids.

    Although Smith is still on the smaller side for a defenseman (weighing only 170 pounds per NHL.com) Ericsson's days in Detroit are limited, and could be on the trading block if he doesn't start living up to that new contract that he signed.

    For the Wings to keep Ericsson around in the long run, I say he has to average 25 points, and have a plus-10 each season.

    The only problem with this trade idea is that Ericsson has a modified no-trade clause.

    I've never second guessed GM Ken Holland, but offering an under-performing defenseman a fat contract with a modified no-trade clause is a brutal idea in my opinion.

3. Jiri Hudler

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    Jiri Hudler had a rough season last year.

    10 goals among 27 points in 73 games played. He also got benched for a few games as well for his poor performance on the ice.

    There are plenty of forwards fighting for spots on Detroit's roster this season, including some on professional tryout contracts.

    But Hudler is ready to fight for his spot as well.

    Although Hudler doesn't feel like he's "under a microscope", I would disagree and say that he is under close scrutiny from Red Wings management, especially GM Ken Holland.

    Hudler better be ready to come out and do more than fight for a spot this season. He must make an impact this season if he's looking to stick around.

    Anywhere in the 25 goal, 50-55 point range would put him back on Detroit's good side going into free agency next season.

    But look out Mr. Hudler, performing like he did last year, and he could be gone by the trade deadline.

Tough Decisions in the Long Run

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    Red Wings GM Ken Holland is one of the more skilled GMs in the NHL today.

    But each offseason Holland faces mammoth decisions about who to sign in free agency, who to trade for, and who to send to the minors or put on waivers.

    Although Franzen, Ericsson and Hudler will probably all make the opening day roster, Holland should serve them a notice: "start playing like you can, or I'm going to start shopping around."

    I cannot say for certain that the Ericsson or Franzen trades would happen, but Ericsson did not merit the big raise during the offseason, and Franzen has to prove that he can stay healthy.

    I can see the Hudler trade happening if he cannot find his groove early on in the season.

    Whatever happens, I know Holland will be cautious about trading any of these players as he saw what happened with Detroit underachiever, Ville Leino, when he was traded to the Flyers.

    Even though Holland is careful when making trades, he would not hesitate to pull the trigger on a trade that would benefit the Red Wings, and that could involve either Franzen, Hulder or Ericsson.

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