There are reasons for optimism, even as the Detroit Red Wings close out another disappointing season.
The Wings (14-23-6) are down to 14 games left. They start the week at the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday, then host the Chicago Blackhawks for a pair of games at Little Caesars Arena.
By next Monday, they could have a new face in the lineup.
Joe Veleno, a first-round pick from 2018, started a a week-long quarantine Sunday. He was recalled over the weekend after his season with Malmö in the Swedish Hockey League ended.
The Wings already have undergone change, with general manager Steve Yzerman trading defenseman Jon Merrill and Patrik Nemeth. Merrill went to the Montreal Canadiens for a fifth-round pick and Hayden Verbeek (the nephew of Wings assistant general manager Pat Verbeek); Nemeth to the Colorado Avalanche for a fourth–round pick.
With an eye towards better times, Veleno leads off this week’s stock watch, as we have an eye on Monday’s 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline.
Veleno was loaned in October when it became clear the pandemic would delay professional hockey in North America at least until January. Veleno tallied 11 goals and nine assists in 46 games for Malmo. He’s a terrific skater with a nose for offense, and the Wings are pleased with the progress he showed in Sweden’s top league.
“My understanding is he has done a good job over there,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Sunday. “It was a productive year for him. If there is opportunity for more development, that is what is critical for him.”
He keeps improving his case to stick around. Erne scored in regulation and in the shootout Saturday — the latter doesn’t count for personal stats but the former gives him 10 goals in 35 games. A pending unrestricted free agent, he is good at going to the net and finding a way to get his stick on the puck. Erne was added in the summer of 2019 by Yzerman, and re-signed last offseason for one year at $997,500.
He’s arguably the team’s top bargaining chip as Bobby Ryan and Sam Gagner are both unavailable because of injures. Glendening has 11 points and a plus-four rating in 41 games. He’s a top faceoff guy, very sound defensively, a great penalty killer and he’s in the last year of a contract with a $1.8 million salary cap hit. If he gets moved, expect the Wings to bring him back in the offseason.
He had a lousy return to action after being sidelined with a lower-body injury, hung out to dry by his teammates to the tune of seven goals allowed on 32 shots Thursday against Nashville. Bernier, 32, has been the team’s best player though, with a 3.03 goals-against average and .910 save percentage. For teams looking to shore up goaltending ahead of Monday’s trade deadline, Bernier would make a smart fit. He’s on $3 million salary cap hit in the final year of his contract.
He’s another pending UFA who should appeal to contenders. Helm tallied his third goal Thursday, by being near the net to tip a shot. He’s a good skater, can play center or wing, take faceoffs, and his playoff experience includes the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.