Welcome to The Hockey Writers’ 2023 Offseason Trade Targets series for the Detroit Red Wings. During it, we will be looking at a handful of players from each NHL team who the Red Wings should consider pursuing this summer.
In this latest edition of the series, we will be focusing on the Toronto Maple Leafs. After their disappointing five-game series loss to the Florida Panthers in the second round, some changes to their roster could be made this summer. As a result, general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman should consider doing business with them. Let’s now discuss three specific players who the Red Wings should target from Toronto.
Pontus Holmberg just completed his first full North American professional season, and it should be deemed a success. The 24-year-old forward proved to be a solid contributor to the Toronto Marlies this campaign, as he had 10 goals to go along with 22 points in 38 games. However, more importantly, he showed that he could be ready for full-time NHL work, as he also had five goals and 13 points in 37 games with the Maple Leafs. However, with Toronto’s forward depth being so strong, it could open the door to them moving him this summer.
The Red Wing should consider making a push for Holmberg if he is made available this offseason. When looking at their current roster, he would be a nice addition to their bottom six. With that, he also offers great versatility, as he has experience playing all three forward positions.
With Holmberg having the potential to blossom into a third-line forward, the Red Wings would likely need to part ways with a fourth-round pick and prospect to successfully acquire him. Perhaps center Pasquale Zito could be a player who the Maple Leafs would want back. The 19-year-old is coming off of a solid season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), where he had 14 goals and 32 assists in 54 games split between the Niagara IceDogs and North Bay Battalion.
After trading Filip Hronek to the Vancouver Canucks before the 2023 Trade Deadline passed, the Red Wings created a notable hole on the right side of their defensive group. As a result, this is an area that Yzerman should focus on improving during the offseason, and Timothy Liljegren would be a nice addition to the Red Wings’ roster because of it.
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Liljegren is coming off another solid regular season, as he had six goals, 18 points, and an impressive plus-24 rating in 67 games played. However, the 2017 first-round pick was also fairly quiet in the postseason, as he had zero points and a minus-1 rating in five games. As a result, one has to wonder if the Maple Leafs will listen to offers for him this summer after their underwhelming second-round exit.
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Liljegren has shown signs that he has the potential to be a legitimate top-four defenseman, and maybe a change of scenery could be exactly what allows him to become one. When looking at Detroit’s lineup, he would surely be in the running to play second-pairing minutes and would be a candidate for penalty-kill time. However, when noting that he is still only 24 years old, the Red Wings would likely need to give up two second-round picks to successfully acquire him.
The Maple Leafs are heading into the offseason with major questions when it comes to their core. Both Auston Matthews and William Nylander are entering the final years of their contracts, and it is rather unlikely that they will be able to keep both around after next season. It is clear that Matthews will be Toronto’s biggest priority, so could Nylander be shopped this summer? It certainly seems possible.
Nylander’s trade value has increased after his spectacular 2022-23 season. In 82 games, the 27-year-old set new career highs with 40 goals, 47 assists, and 87 points in 82 regular-season games. His offensive production also carried over well during the playoffs, as he had four goals and 10 points in 11 games played. Although moving on from him would sting, it may be worth some consideration when noting that they could lose him for nothing next summer.
The Red Wings need to add a star right winger to their roster, and Nylander would provide them with just that. Yet, for them to have any chance of acquiring him, they would likely need to part ways with their 2024 first-round pick, 2023 second-round pick, notable prospect William Wallinder, and forward Joe Veleno. It would be a big price to pay, but if an extension is agreed upon, it would be a move worth making.
Alas, the Red Wings have some intriguing trade targets worth considering from the Red Wings. Nylander would of course be the biggest prize, but adding Liljegren and/or Holmberg would also have the potential to be good as well. Let’s see if these two Original Six clubs strike a deal this summer.