Detroit Red Wings hope to bank picks, prospects at NHL trade deadline
Detroit Red Wings Luke Witkowski, Anthony Mantha, Petr Mrazek and coach Jeff Blashill answer questions Saturday, Feb. 17 at Bridgestone Arena. Helene St. James, DFP
The NHL trade deadline is Feb. 26, and the Detroit Red Wings are looking to be sellers.
“I’m looking to the future,” general manager Ken Holland said Monday. “I’m working the phones to see what’s out there that makes sense for us.”
The Wings are rebuilding, and want to acquire early round draft picks and high-end prospects. The Wings already have nine picks in the 2018 draft, including two picks each in rounds two and three. Mike Green is expected to be moved, as there is interest in the offensive defenseman. He hurt his neck Thursday at Tampa, but is expected to play Tuesday when the Wings host Nashville.
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Goaltender Petr Mrazek is on the market. The Wings had conversations with Philadelphia about Mrazek in mid-February, and are talking again this week since the Flyers lost goaltender Michal Neuvirth on Sunday (on top of being without No. 1 goalie Brian Elliott for about five weeks).
Mrazek has had a turbulent season (8-7-3 in 22 games with a 2.89 goals-against average and .910 save percentage) but he has played better of late (2.01 goals-against average and .939 save percentage his past two games). He also appeals because he’s a pending restricted free agent, but a team is unlikely to qualify him given his $4 million salary this season, which would make him an unrestricted free agent.
Forward Gustav Nyquist could appeal to a team that needs scoring (such as Nashville). Nyquist has one year left on a contract with a $4.75 million cap hit. Both Green and Nyquist would have to approve a move, as they have no-trade clauses.
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Holland said the Wings want to have some openings going into next season in the hopes some of their own prospects are ready to push for a job. Forward Evgeny Svechnikov, the 19th overall pick from 2015, is having a better second half of the season in Grand Rapids after struggling in the first half (seven goals, 18 points overall in 46 games, after hitting 20 goals and 51 points last year as a rookie).
Defenseman Dennis Cholowski, picked 20th overall in 2016, is having an excellent season in the Western Hockey League, with 40 assists among 54 points in 55 games. Forward Michael Rasmussen (ninth overall, 2017) is having a very good year, with 22 goals among 44 points in 34 games with Tri-City (WHL).
Other Griffins expected to make a push include defensemen Joe Hicketts and Filip Hronek. Hronek, a bonus second-round pick in 2016 from the Pavel Datsyuk deal, has 27 points in 45 games, second best in the AHL among rookie defensemen.
Forward Dominic Turgeon is another candidate, as he could possibly pan out as a fourth-line center in Detroit.
The Wings could make more moves around the June draft. They aren’t likely to make any signings via free agency other than possibly someone inexpensive, like Thomas Vanek.
Contact Helene St. James: email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.