By Will Burchfield
It might not be the big-ticker deal fans were hoping for, but the Red Wings unloaded another veteran before today’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, sending forward Steve Ott to the Canadiens in exchange for Montreal’s sixth-round draft pick in 2018.
In second-to-last place in the Eastern Conference and eight points out of a playoff spot, Detroit is clearly in sell mode. The organization traded Brendan Smith on Tuesday and Thomas Jurco last week, with the clear intention of stockpiling draft picks.
It’s unfamiliar territory for general manager Ken Holland, who has long been on the other end of the competitive spectrum.
“When we were buyers, we traded away picks for players,” Holland told the Free Press on Tuesday. “Now we want picks back.
“We are trying to get competitive again for next season.”
The payoff might not come that quickly, but the Wings’ future certainly looks brighter today than it did last week. A surplus of draft picks will do that. Now it’s up to management to spend those picks wisely.
Detroit’s biggest trade chip, of course, remains on the market. Thomas Vanek has drawn interest from several teams and could feasibly reel in a first-round pick, if not more. Former Coyote Martin Hanzal cost the Wild three draft picks, a first- and second-rounder among them, and has far inferior offensive numbers to Vanek. Both players are pending unrestricted free agents.
Riley Sheahan is another name to keep an eye on leading up to this afternoon’s deadline. The big center is having a dismal offensive season but has the size and skating ability to be effective in a checking role. He is signed through the 2018 season.
Ott signed a one-year, $800,000 contract with the Red Wings last summer. He provided the team some much-needed snarl and was a popular figure in the locker room, hence why the Canadiens acquired him. But Ott’s value had expired on a Red Wings team circling the drain, and Holland was smart to trade him while he still could.