Red Wings living in uncertainty amid trade deadline

Detroit News

Seattle — Many NHL players will tell you they don’t check their phones and monitor the trade deadline up until Monday’s 3 p.m. deadline.

But that likely is not totally true.

Lives are uprooted and rosters are tweaked, as rumors continue to swirl until Monday’s finish line.

The Red Wings have known too well, for the sixth consecutive season, the life of a selling, non-playoff team. They’ve seen plenty of teammates sent to playoff contenders this time of year.

It’s likely going to happen again before Monday. Defenseman Nick Leddy was held out of Thursday’s game in Vancouver, called a “management decision” by the Wings, with several other players possibly joining Leddy.

“Unfortunately we’ve been here too many times in the last number of years (sellers) and I’ve seen guys react different ways,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “To think that it’s not something that’s talked about in the locker room would be false.  There’s a reality to it. These guys are humans. There’s consequences to trades, moving to different teams, different cities, new friends. Guys that stay here losing friends, all that kind of stuff.

“You’d rather not be in that spot, but it’s a spot that unfortunately we’re in based on our record and we’ll see what happens.”

Leddy is a potential unrestricted free agent this summer, as are defensemen Marc Staal and Troy Stecher, goalie Thomas Greiss, and forwards Vladislav Namestnikov and Sam Gagner.

The Wings might be interested in retaining some of those players (Staal seems a distinct possibility) but not all. They are prime candidates to be veteran rentals for playoff-contending teams looking for depth and insurance for their lineups.

But it’s not necessarily easy for those players, and others who’ve been rumored on social media (Tyler Bertuzzi, Filip Zadina, Filip Hronek mostly) who could see their careers upended in a matter of hours.

“It’s human, it’s life,” Blashill said. “I would guess I would ask people to put themselves in that similar perspective, where I don’t know if there’s anybody who has moved or changed jobs, it’s hard, it’s not easy,” Blashill said. “You usually perform well when you get comfortable and confident. Sometimes that’s hard to do. There’s a lot that goes into it.”

For goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, who starred in Thursday’s 1-0 victory over Vancouver making 43 saves, this has been a unique circumstance.

Nedeljkovic was acquired from Carolina last summer. While with the Hurricanes, Nedeljkovic was in a situation where the Hurricanes either sat out the deadline, or added.

But seeing how his teammates responded Thursday, and the approach they took, was how Nedeljkovic believes the Wings have to go about these final weeks of the season.

“It’s different; I’ve never gone through something like this,” Nedeljkovic said. “There really wasn’t much trading going on in Carolina in the five years I was there. But guys stepped up (Thursday) and played well and that’s what will have to happen. If Ledds (Leddy) moves on to somewhere else, we wish him the best of luck, but we’re kind of hoping he stays. We love him in that room and he brings a really good element on the ice as well.

“But whatever happens, happens. At the end of the day, it’s a business.”

Blashill also was pleased with the relentlessness the Wings played with in Vancouver, and also the game before in Edmonton.

“’We were really mentally tough,” Blashill said. “We didn’t let that decision (scratching Leddy) affect us. We played hard, with tons of passion. The other night we showed a lot of mental toughness after being down (eventually losing 7-5 in Edmonton).

“As hard as it is, and it’s not easy, there’s a human element to it. You only control what you can control, and we have to continue to focus on that.”

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Building block

Nedeljkovic felt Thursday’s victory was one the Wings can build upon after the recent six-game winless streak.

The Wings easily played one of their best games in weeks, with forward Pius Suter scoring the lone goal (and snapping an 11-game point-less streak).

As important was a good start, which had been plaguing the Wings.

“We can look back on as the year goes on and kind of tell ourselves that we can play in these low-scoring kind of games and play good defense,” Nedeljkovic said. “We did play some really good defense (against Vancouver). We gave up some chances but they’ve got some high-end players over there. It goes back to playing with some confidence and playing fast.”

“It goes back to starting on time. The last few games we’ve kind of struggled at getting started. You can’t do that in this league, you have to play a full 60 minutes start to finish.

“We came out ready to go. We stuck with it. There were some high points, some low points but we grinded through it and found a way to win.

Red Wings at Kraken

Faceoff: 10 p.m. Saturday, Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle

TV/radio: BSD/97.1 FM

Outlook: The Kraken (18-38-6), not surprisingly, are struggling in their first season in the NHL. … Seattle has won once in its last six games (1-4-1) and ranks 31st in goals for (2.55 per game) and 29th in goals against (3.60). … C Yanni Gourde (14 goals, 36 points) and LW Jared McCann (23 goals) have been bright spots.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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