The 2011-2012 NHL season has and has not treated the Detroit Red Wings kindly. After a quick start that saw the team win five in a row, the Wings have since lost four strait and are suddenly third in the competitive Central division.
A timely deal could certainly shake up things for the Wings. While GM Ken Holland won't make any knee jerk trades, he will be listening to any offers and considering things that could wake up his dormant club.
This is a team that has a solid, unquestionable core. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom clearly lead the charge. However, so far that core has let the Wings down tremendously.
Zetterberg has only managed three points across nine games while Pavel Datsyuk has been an unsightly minus seven. That doesn't sound like a winning formula so far in the Motor City.
While these guys will pick up their games as the 82-game season wears on, the time for a distinct change may be arriving in Detroit.
The Detroit Red Wings could still make a move for Evgeni Nabokov.
I've supplied the idea to the masses before and it has generally been met with rolling eyes and claims of the possible trade not making sense for the Wings. But after Ty Conklin went for a total free fall during Jim Howard's recent absence, maybe I don't look so silly.
Conklin has started three games for Detroit and won one via shutout. Not such a bad start on paper. However, the guy looked absolutely awful during his two most recent outings last week.
A backup that allows more than three goals a game and allows an average of two goals per 10 shots taken isn't a guy I want to rely on for the remainder of the season. Conklin's contract is short—the time is now to send this guy to shore.
For there are more capable combatants abound.
I don't care if Ken Holland doesn't make a move for Nabokov. There still needs to be more security in net. While you may not like the idea of bringing in the ex-San Jose Shark, you can't deny the Wings are sorely shallow at goalie.
Making a move—the right sort of move—for a netminder at this stage of the season could save a lot of heart ache for the squad moving forward. They don't need to go out and acquire Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks.
But doing something to lock down the net would be an excellent way to help encourage change in Detroit.
Everyone else is rumored to be in on the Kyle Turris sweepstakes, so why not consider what a player like that could do for the Detroit Red Wings.
Turris has publicly asked for a trade. Management for the Phoenix Coyotes have told the kid tough luck—play in the desert or be cast out into the... well, you get the idea. While the desert dogs have sworn up and down that they won't be moving the former first-round pick, let's assume a sweet enough deal could pry the stubborn teen away.
The most noticeable attribute that Turris would bring to the Wings is youth. Sweet, influence-able youth.
He would automatically become the youngest player on the roster, and while Detroit isn't the retirement home that most perceive it to be, they aren't exactly a kinder-care operation either. Turris would be a talented pivot that could fit right in with the youth movement on the Wings.
Players such as Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak are of similar age but don't have the same kind of pedigree that Turris does. On the other hand, Emmerton and Mursak both have jobs at the NHL level, and the team as a whole could show the underachiever how to be a Red Wing—that is, how to be a winner.
The Turris scenario is one I am running away with here. The specific idea isn't based on any source, but the root of it is grounded in reality: Detroit is in desperate need of an offensive spark.
They currently lead the league in shots taken per game, barely edging out the San Jose Sharks in that category. Yet they are 20th in goals per game. That can't continue to be the case in Detroit if they hope to trounce their way to another consecutive playoff berth.
Perhaps it is time to give some other players within the system the time of day. Inserting Fabian Brunnstrom couldn't hurt at this point. Whatever the solution to the squad's offensive woes is, coach Mike Babcock and GM Ken Holland need to come up with an answer.
My question is a simple one: what type of return could the Detroit Red Wings get for a package that included the suddenly dependable Jiri Hudler, the hot Johan Franzen and (the old fallback) a draft pick?
For a team that is suddenly staggeringly bad at scoring goals, moving two forwards that have proven to be capable lamp-lighters may not make a whole lot of sense. However, having only a small handful of guys on at any given time is a surefire way to land a lottery pick in the NHL these days.
While several contenders in the Western conference (namely the evil San Jose Sharks) were out shaking and baking trying to put the finishing touches on Stanley Cup caliber squads, Detroit stood pat. Most pundits—including myself— believed that the formula was too tried and too true to fail for the Wings.
The month of October may have killed off those assurances. Suddenly a playoff spot doesn't feel like a given and the squad is looking for answers.
If you can't win with the guys that are on the ice, why not kick some tires to see what is available for those players while they are still valuable assets?
Forwards such as Alexander Semin and Ales Hemsky are constantly being peddled about as guys who could be dealt. Would either of these skaters be a good fit for Detroit? The key is not to make a snap decision. GM Kenny Holland knows all the cards that are in play, and won't hesitate to pull the trigger on a move that makes sense for the Wings.
The dark day is looming for the Detroit Red Wings: Captain and longtime perfect-player Nicklas Lidstrom is aging and will be hanging up his skates soon.
While a player of his caliber is totally irreplaceable, the Wings still need to make some moves and land a defender or two to try and ease the unease-able. Again, they stood still during an offseason that saw several teems shell out way too much dough for defenders.
While they have the cap space that other teams don't, they also are missing a link or two in their own zone. Perhaps they were waiting to see if blue chip prospect Brendan Smith was NHL-ready, but his mind isn't quite prepared for the speed of the A-game yet.
They took a big step in securing the future of their own zone by extending Niklas Kronwall, but he'll still need help back there.
As it turns out, there are several names being floated in trade rumors. My favorite from this offseason was the Zach Bogosian to the Wings idea.
Regardless of what Detroit does during this season, they'll need to address their own zone to some degree. Brad Stuart is also due another extension, but even after his deal the team could use a big time addition to bulk things up a bit.
Promoting the idea that the Detroit Red Wings could benefit by getting a little younger could only feed this drawn out and predictable misconception that this team is too old to compete. Lets clear it up right now: I don't think that this is the case at all.
However, I do believe that the Wings could stand for an injection of desire and youthful vigor. It's the way competitive nature works. Mostly everyone in Detroit has been there and done that, and while this comes in handy to a degree there is something to be said for young kids pushing for pushing's sake.
Grand Rapids isn't loaded—they've gone 4-5 so far in 2011-2012—but the team isn't lacking in bright spots either.
Chris Conner has 13 points through those nine games and has been a dynamic player in the minors. While Patrick Eaves is still trying to nail down a spot on Detroit's roster, it may be hard to find an argument for bringing in a ringer from the minors.
But there needs to be a change of pace for the Red Wings here. Just something to shake them out of their slump. If that means putting a kid in a notch or two above his place on the totem pole then so be it. The pecking order is clear in Detroit. Perhaps it is time for the ideology to give way just a bit.
Players such as Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist could provide a boost to the Wings without forcing the team to make any choices—except who to scratch in their favor.