Yesterday, we took a look at a few of the Red Wings that could be safe or on the move come trade deadline day. Today, in Part 2, we will wrap up the list and give some final words to Ken Holland before deadline day.
If you are big into advanced analytics, you could argue that Smith is one of the Red Wings best defensemen. Smith has great Corsi numbers, and a friendly contractual situation. Smith, 29, only has 5 points (2 G, 3 A) in 29 games played this season. The former late first rounder has 67 points (15 G, 52 A) in 287 games played in Detroit. He has no long term future with this team with the direction they are heading and it would make the most sense for both Smith and Detroit to part ways now. Just like Tatar, Smith carries a $2.75M cap hit with him. Just like Vanek, Smith is a UFA after season’s end which I think increases the likelihood of getting moved at the deadline to another team. Hopefully Holland has learned his lesson from Marchenko and will opt to get something out of Smith while fully knowing there is no more need for his services moving forward rather than letting him walk for free in July. Let’s spin the wheel, shall we?
DESTINATION PREDICTION: NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Smith could fetch the Wings a prospect and middle round draft pick (are you seeing a pattern here?) from the Predators, who as of now have over $13.5M in cap space. They could definitely take on Smith’s contract and bolster their blue line in the process. Smith could step in as a 2nd or 3rd pair defenseman on the Predators and do extremely well, perhaps getting the opportunity to play with P.K. Subban or Roman Josi. The Predators have the potential to be very active at the deadline. With the excessive cap space and currently holding the 1st wild card spot in the Western Conference, I expect them to make a couple moves. It might not get talked about that much but you have to think about this: there is an unspoken competition amongst the expansion teams of CBJ, MIN and NSH. The Jackets and Wild will make the playoffs, and have potential to make deep runs. There is pressure in Nashville to make a run of their own and I believe they need another depth defenseman to assist in that process. There’s a guy in Detroit named Brendan Smith who’s just the guy for the job.
Here’s a guy who just has not panned out in Detroit, and it’s very unfortunate. I went to a Griffin’s playoff game a few years ago against the Texas Stars and Jurco had a hat trick that game. He looked dominant, I couldn’t believe how well he played and it gave me hope for his future in Detroit. Sadly nothing has worked, and Jurco has expressed his displeasure with his role on the team and that a trade may be the best thing for him personally. He only has a $900K price-tag and is an RFA at season’s end. Jurco has no points this season in just 16 games played. His career point total is 39 (15 G, 24 A) in 159 games played. The guy is only 24 years old, and with some proper development in a well-run organization I think Jurco has value. He’s 6’2 and still deserves a full time audition as a regular top 9 winger in my opinion. I’ve got a feeling Wings fans aren’t going to like this prediction…
DESTINATION PREDICTION: CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Yeah. I know. I hate them too. However, they’re damn good, and you have to give them credit for being able to consistently put a Cup contender on the ice each and every spring. I believe Jurco could fetch another expiring contract (the return of Jordin Tootoo?) or perhaps an average prospect or even solely a middle round draft pick, it all just depends on what other moves the Hawks want to make. We do know that Chicago has inquired about Tatar and Nyquist, which tells us they’re looking to add winger depth before their playoff run. Jurco could be a cheaper alternative should they not be able to add someone more prominent. A lot like Vanek, Jurco is low risk and high reward. I think if you put Jurco on any of Chicago’s top 3 lines he will surprise a lot of people and perform well. I bet it would take less than 2 games for him to score being line-mates with Patrick Kane, but that is the case with a lot of NHL forwards. Expect Stan Bowman to continue to hunt for winger depth between now and March 1, you may see him try to bring Mr. Jurco to the Windy City.
I did not like this move when Holland made it, I still don’t like it, and I think Ott will be on the move here soon. The journeyman 4th liner has a miniscule $800K contract that expires after this season. Let’s be honest, the return for him would not be much (probably a 5th or 6th round pick) but there may be a small market for him amongst some teams that are looking to add grit before the ever intense Stanley Cup Playoffs. Ott, 34, can kill penalties and protect your studs and provide some off-ice intangibles and leadership. If there is going to be a team that wants him, I think it will be a really talented team that has consistently underperformed. A team that may just be missing that last little extra spark or kick in the rear. The team I am predicting he will go to made a similar move last year at the deadline, maybe they will do it again..
DESTINATION PREDICTION: WASHINGTON CAPITALS
The Capitals have a history of choking in the playoffs (gosh I miss 1998) and the window keeps slowly closing on Alex Ovechkin to win a Stanley Cup while his arch-nemesis Sid Crosby has two. Ott played last season in St. Louis, the Blues made a run to the WCF last season as well. Now ex-head coach of the Blues Ken Hitchock praised Ott for his ability to focus the guys and be a leader in the locker room. Leadership in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is absolutely vital, and maybe a guy like Ott is just what the Capitals need. Can you imagine a 4th line in Washington (who will almost undoubtedly have home ice in the Eastern Conference) of Steve Ott, Jay Beagle and Tom Wilson? No thank you, I don’t want any part of that. Washington has a deadly top 6 and a goalie in Braden Holtby that very well may repeat as Vezina Trophy winner. If there was a team that needed some extra leadership and could be one kick in the ass away from making a deep run, it is Washington. Perhaps you’ll see them try and rent the services of the Windsor, Ontario native and try to finally win that elusive Stanley Cup.
So Detroit, how does that sound? Six of our players playing on completely different teams in a little over two weeks’ time, it could happen and the odds of it happening only grow with each passing loss. If I am Ken Holland, I’m working the phones most of the day, every day, between now and March 1. There are only three current Red Wings who I would deem “untouchable” and those guys are 39, 71, and 72. Holland needs to be doing his due diligence otherwise, because I would trade anybody else on that team unless the trade partner team offered up something absurd. Shoot, I’d trade Riley Sheahan or Johnathan Ericsson for a bag of pucks and a dozen Hot N Ready’s.
The easiest way to take a bandage off is to take a deep breath, count to three and rip it off as fast as you can. The same metaphor can be applied to the Red Wings initiating their rebuild. Okay Hockeytown, all together now… *deep breath*
Okay, here it goes…