Don’t look now, but the Detroit Red Wings (27-21-8) are just two points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and just three points from the first wild card with 26 games to go in the regular season. The surging Red Wings have won six out of their last seven games.
Before the season started, many Red Wings fans hoped to see progress under first-year head coach Derek Lalonde, and positive progress is precisely what we’re seeing. The last time the Detroit Red Wings appeared in the NHL postseason was 2016, and if they hope to get there in 2023, they will need to earn it. Despite being right on the cusp of a playoff spot with games in hand, Detroit has one of the most difficult remaining schedules to close the season.
The Red Wings put themselves within striking distance of the New York Islanders and the Florida Panthers. Detroit completed a stellar (primarily) west coast road trip that concluded Tuesday evening in Washington before heading home to prepare for Thursday’s tilt with the New York Rangers. Detroit collected eight of ten possible points by beating Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, and Washington, only falling to Seattle on the trip. Before heading west, the Detroit Red Wings beat Calgary and Vancouver at home.
The Detroit Red Wings are within striking distance of the postseason as the NHL trade deadline looms.
If you rewind to the holidays, the Detroit Red Wings seemed once again destined to be a draft lottery team, but as they started to get healthy, their play picked up, and suddenly they started to string together a bunch of wins.
The Detroit Red Wings have five games (Rangers, Lightning, Senators, Senators, Kraken) remaining before the March 3rd trade deadline. The way I see it, if Detroit can come up with six points of a possible ten over this stretch, the Red Wings may be inclined to become buyers rather than stand pat or sell. And when I say ‘buy,’ I mean buying cautiously. I don’t expect Yzerman to splurge on someone like Timo Meier. Even if Detroit remains in the hunt for the postseason, they are not good enough to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup. So, with that being said, giving up what it would take to get Meier doesn’t make sense. Yzerman won’t be willing to give up Simon Edvinsson, or Marco Kasper, plus draft capital, to land another pending free agent, albeit restricted, not unrestricted; it’s just not logical at this point unless Yzerman is comfortable giving Meier over $10 million per season on a long-term contract.
I could see Yzerman looking to upgrade the Detroit Red Wings’ third defense pairing with an affordable rental piece for the stretch run. A player that stands out is veteran Luke Schenn. The Canucks are open for business, and Schenn brings a bit of grit to a lineup with his league-leading 258 hits. Schenn is right-handed and would pair nicely with Olli Maatta or Ben Chiarot; he also carries a cap hit of $850,000 and won’t garner much of a return to secure his services.
Yzerman may also look to add a depth center if he feels the Red Wings are prepared to make a serious run for a wild-card spot down the stretch. Detroit isn’t exactly deep at center following Dylan Larkin. It’s Andrew Copp, Joe Veleno, and Pius Suter. Adding a depth center could allow the Red Wings to slide Veleno to the wing for the stretch run.
The first player that comes to mind is Sean Monahan. Monahan is a bit of a reclamation project and is a pending free agent. Monahan is a three-time 30-goal scorer but has struggled to produce offensively over the past few seasons. Monahan has recorded six goals and 17 points over 25 games this season in Montreal and is over 55% in the faceoff circle. Like Schenn, Detroit won’t need to break the bank to add another quality depth player in Monahan.
The Detroit Red Wings have many contributing forwards, so much so that Filip Zadina was a healthy scratch Tuesday in Washington for Jakub Vrana. Lucas Raymond is expected to return soon for the Red Wings, forcing yet another difficult decision for Lalonde.