For the past few seasons Red Wings fans have watched as Ken Holland and the rest of the Detroit front office sat on their hands at the trade deadline. The last time Kenny decided to make a deal it was pretty much a disaster. He dealt a first round pick to Tampa Bay in a three team deal with Colorado that brought Kyle Quincey back to Detroit. Everyone knows how well that’s worked out thus far. Had Detroit not dealt away that 2012 first round pick, they would have been in position to draft Pittsburgh blueline standout Olli Määttä. You will not find one Red Wings fan who would tell you they would rather have Kyle Quincey than Määttä.
This year at the deadline, fans and management alike were hoping for some help along the blueline. Also, with Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Stephen Weiss, and Darren Helm all injured, the Wings were without the services of four centers. So the addition of a forward as well would not have been ill-received. The real question is would the Wings be willing to mortgage off a part of their future for continued current success. After all, a 22-year playoff streak is on the line. Holland had stated that he was done trading away first round picks, and hearing that was obviously a relief.
The best available options for the the Red Wings on the blueline appeared to be Vancouver’s Alex Edler and Buffalo’s Christian Ehrhoff. Edler is having somewhat of a down season for Vancouver this year, posting a stomach churning -24. I would attribute most of this to the wildly inconsistent play of the Vancouver team this year, because he is a much better defenceman than those numbers give off and he proved that this year for Sweden at the Olympics. This is a far-fetched acquisition as the Philadelphia Flyers were said to be going all-in and trying to not only acquire Ryan Kesler but also Alex Edler.
Christian Ehrhoff on the other hand would have been a more realistic option for the Red Wings, that is if the Sabres would have been willing to trade him to an inter-divisional opponent. Ehrhoff is a solid man along the blueline and signed through 2020-21 to a $4 million a year cap hit. Christian possesses great skating ability comparable to that of Drew Doughty. He also has the ability to run a powerplay which would be another great asset for the Wings. On the downside he is a left handed shot and ideally the Wings need a righty.
In the end, Holland declined to make a serious run at any help for the defence. After all, the injuries are all down the middle of the lineup, and a centermen should take more precedence at this point if the team is to survive the next 21 games.
The Canucks ended up holding onto Ryan Kesler, as GM Mike Gillis is obviously hoping to garner more for a trade around the time of this year’s draft. As the trade deadline came to an end it seemed as if the Red Wings had declined to make a move at all. However, a trade call had been put into the NHL offices minutes before the deadline and on the surface it seemed like a brilliant move by Kenny Holland. The Wings elected to use the Nashville Predators as a trade partner to shore up their depleted lineup. Detroit acquired Grosse Pointe native David Legwand in a last second deal. Legwand, who played junior hockey with the Plymouth Whalers, was the 2nd overall draft pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. Legwand played all 15 years of his career in Nashville and elected to waive his no trade clause after approached by Nashville management. The prospect of coming back home to play for his boyhood team was obviously a great bargaining chip for the Wings.
Legwand is the definition of a blue collar centerman. He plays all three zones very effectively, and is an expert in the faceoff circles. This season he has registered 10 goals and 30 assists whic puts him on pace for a 53 point season. The acquisition of Legwand is not troubling for reasons related to his production but more because of what the Wings gave up in the deal and the fact that Legwand is a rental player, meaning he is only signed through this season. He will be an unrestricted free agent next year. Detroit gave up Patrick Eaves, a 3rd round pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, and Calle Järnkrok a very highend Swedish prospect.
Parting ways with Patrick Eaves is not very troubling as he most likely would not have had a place on this team come next season because of Luke Glendenning, the promising rookie from the University of Michigan. The Wings also needed to clear a body of the roster in the trade as they would have been over the roster limit, so unfortunately Eaves made the most sense to give away. The draft pick however is where things start to go downhill in this trade, because if the Wings make the playoffs this year it turns into second round pick from a third rounder. Detroit obviously has a great drafting track record, especially in the late rounds. So think of the possibilities for a second round pick.
Ken Holland will ultimately take the most heat for the prospect portion of this trade, and deservedly so. Calle Järnkrok is merely 22 years old and was just starting to come into his own in the Grand Rapids system. Calle is rated at #41 of the top 50 prospects in the NHL. Need to hear any more of a ringing endorsement? “You do see a lot of similarities to how Hank plays. He’s got that ability to hang onto the puck and not throw it away unless he has to. He can hold off guys and make that play when there’s an opening and wait for that opening, too. I think he’s ready for the next level and see how quick he can adapt to playing on smaller rinks with faster guys.” That comes from Nick Lidstrom comparing Järnkrok to Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg. So, it is pretty understandable why some Wings fans are getting increasingly restless with Ken Holland’s recent decisions.
With Ken Holland’s reputation and resume of success, he is being given all the trust in the world right now and he earned that right. Hopefully Tatar, Jurco, Nyquist, Glendenning, Abdelkader, and the other young kids can rally behind the leadership of Daniel Alfredsson and Kronwall and extend the playoff streak to 23. Hopefully Zetterberg and Pav can make it back in time for the playoffs. And most importantly, hopefully Lidstrom is wrong for once.