By: Will Burchfield
With the Red Wings eight points out of a playoff spot as the Feb. 26 trade deadline approaches, rumors are starting to swirl about who might be dealt.
The most obvious candidate is Mike Green, a pending unrestricted free agent who can provide offense from the blue line. Barring a sudden charge up the standings, the Wings are certain to deal Green sometime in the next three and a half weeks.
Green’s defensive shortcomings suppress his trade value, but he’d be a good fit for a contender looking for a puck mover on the back end and a quarterback on the power play.
NHL Insider Elliote Friedman told Edmonton’s 630 CHED on Friday, via Fan Rag Sports, that two Eastern Conference teams could make a run at Green.
“He’s already been linked to Washington. I know they were asking about him at the All-Star Game last week, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Tampa takes a look,” Friedman said.
On Wednesday, Green laughed off the idea that players on contending teams were trying to recruit him at the All-Star Game.
“I know there was rumors and articles, I don’t think there was that much of it going on. Guys just joking around and pulling your chain a bit. It was all in good spirits,” he said.
There’s a chance the Wings could land a late first-round pick in exchange for Green, but he’ll have to pick up his scoring pace in the weeks to come. He has 26 points in 49 games this season — including 13 on the power play — but just two points in his last nine. A pair of second-round picks or a second and a third, as Detroit received for Brendan Smith last season, is a more realistic return.
Ken Holland and the Wings are also in position to move a goaltender. Jimmy Howard looked like an intriguing trade candidate amid his strong first half, but his play has dipped a bit this month, making his $5.3 million cap hit through next season look far less appealing. Petr Mrazek, a pending restricted free agent who’s wrested the crease from Howard of late, is more likely to be on the move.
“I’ve reported at one point this year it looked like Edmonton and Detroit were seriously talking about a Mrazek deal that didn’t happen. And I still think they’d move one of their goaltenders if the price is right,” Friedman said. “Mrazek has started to play a little better.”
Mrazek has a .965 save percentage in his last five games. He’s started three of Detroit’s last four, and it behooves the team to showcase him ahead of the deadline. But Jeff Blashill said on Wednesday that’s not on his mind.
“Not for me, not at all. Petr’s played pretty well lately, he’s gotten us points. I have tons of faith in both of them and we’re trying to win hockey games,” Blashill said.
Demand for goalies isn’t high at the moment, with the Islanders and the Blackhawks the only two contenders in clear need of help. Mrazek is likely worth a third- or fourth-round pick.
Friedman added that the Wings are open to trading Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist to further their fledgling rebuild.
“They’ve tried to move Tatar and Nyquist for a couple of years now. They’ve been on and off the market, and I do think they’re looking at that again,” Friedman said.
Nyquist, 28, carries a $4.75 million cap hit through next season. Tatar, 27, signed a four-year deal last summer with an annual cap hit of $5.3 million.