Despite being one of the NHL’s worst teams yet again this season, the Detroit Red Wings still have some talent on their roster. When you consider the expiring contracts they own and the down-season they are having, it’s only a matter of time before the trades begin happening.
Among the forwards, there are four players set to become free agents after this season is over. On the blue line, an additional three. Even goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who is having an exceptional season so far, is on an expiring deal. It’s certain that the Red Wings will look much different next season, but how many of these players will be gone as soon as next month?
Here’s a look at five members of the Detroit Red Wings who could be traded before the April 12th deadline.
1. Luke Glendening, C
Come playoff time, puck possession is an incredibly important part of the game. Thus far, no one in the league has been better at getting his team the puck off a draw than Luke Glendening.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) March 23, 2021
While he’s winning 64.2% of faceoffs, Glendening is valuable for more than just a puck drop. He is extremely tough to play against as a shutdown center and can line up against the top players in the league. In fact, he did just that against the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2014 and again in 2015 during the postseason. While the Lightning still came out on top, Glendening earned respect around the league and has consistently been rumored to be traded each year around this time. With his $1.8 million contract set to expire after this season, the Red Wings might finally have to say goodbye to one of their fan favorites.
2. Bobby Ryan, W
The obvious choice here, Bobby Ryan has had quite an impact with the Red Wings since signing in the offseason. The 34-year-old winger kicked off the season in incredible fashion by scoring four goals in his first three games but has been ice cold since with a mere two goals in 27 games. So, why is he the obvious choice? Well, the $1 million cap hit certainly doesn’t hurt, but beyond that, Ryan is a veteran with more than 50 games of playoff experience under his belt. He’s looked better than his teammates on most nights and would fit in nicely playing alongside more talent on a contending team.
Bobby Ryan as Thomas Vanek
Sam Gagner as Lee Stempniak(s)
Marc Staal as Johnny Oduya
And many more — finding the best comparable for the Red Wings' 2021 deadline trade candidates.
Still have our $1/MONTH promo going right now!https://t.co/NbaDoXhi3h
— Max Bultman (@m_bultman) March 19, 2021
3. Sam Gagner, C
Many thought Sam Gagner’s career had fizzled, but he’s proven this season that there’s still something left in the tank.
SAM GAGNER HAT TRICK!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/npZNzL9DZK
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) February 26, 2021
Contributing as a depth center to start the campaign, Gagner has been rewarded with more ice time since his February 25th hat trick against the Nashville Predators. Although he lacks playoff experience, the former first-round draft pick carries a cap hit of only $850k which makes him one of the most affordable depth centers on the market.
4. Marc Staal, D
Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman may attempt to double-dip with Staal after acquiring the veteran defenseman, and his $5.7 million salary, in exchange for a second-round draft pick from the New York Rangers last September.
— Hockey Hound (@HockeyHoundShow) March 23, 2021
Staal has two things that GMs always seem to covet this time of year, size and experience. At 6’4″ and 209 pounds, Staal can be a very intimidating player to line up against. Factor in his 107 games of playoff experience and you have an attractive asset. The only downside is his salary, but fortunately, Yzerman and the Red Wings have the flexibility to hold on to as much as they need to facilitate a deal.
5. Troy Stecher, D
One thing separates Stecher from the rest of his Red Wings teammates on this list: impending free agency. While his teammates who may be traded are all on expiring contracts, Stecher signed a two-year contract with the Red Wings last off-season.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) March 18, 2021
Any team interested in acquiring the depth right-handed defenseman will be planning ahead for potentially two playoff runs. Stecher certainly doesn’t jump off the scoresheet as a name you would be set on adding to your roster, but he’s quietly having a nice season for the Red Wings. With one goal and five assists so far, Stecher actually ranks second in defenseman on the Red Wings with six points in 25 games played. More importantly, his consistency and puck movement have been a bright spot for the 26-year-old undrafted defenseman.
In less than a month, I suspect that at least one of these players will be competing for a playoff spot on a new team. However, it remains far from a guarantee. In fact, Luke Glendening has been rumored to be dealt at the trade deadline for several seasons now but remains part of the Red Wings roster. All we know for certain, is that the Red Wings are in desperate need of help, and it’s unlikely that these players are part of the long-term solution.