Red Wings: 3 Biggest Needs Ahead of 2024 Trade Deadline

The Hockey Writers

With under a month to go until the NHL Trade Deadline, the Detroit Red Wings find themselves in the thick of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. They rank sixth in the conference in points-percentage, and with 27 wins through 51 games, they are on pace to soar past the 35 wins they collected last season.

A lot can happen between now and the trade deadline. The Red Wings know this quite well; they were in a similar spot last season before three key divisional losses to close out February put them in the sellers category ahead of the deadline. Though the Red Wings look like they could possibly be a buyer this season, the players and coaches know that they have to keep delivering positive results on the ice to make that a reality.

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If the team gives general manager Steve Yzerman confidence in investing in the present, there are a number of areas he could look to improve upon. The Red Wings, despite their success, are still a flawed team, but the trade deadline is an opportunity for them to patch up their holes and address their depth ahead of their final push for the playoffs.

If the Red Wings do become buyers at the trade deadline, these are the types of players they will want to pursue.

More Grit in Detroit

The Detroit Lions captured the hearts of Michiganders everywhere on their way to an appearance in the National Football League’s conference finals. It wasn’t just because of how long it’s been since the Lions were a source of pride for fans. Arguably the biggest reason was HOW they did it:

They embodied Detroit’s grit. They even put the word on hats and shirts.

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The Red Wings, to their credit, haven’t been a team that backs down from a challenge. They have the third-most comeback victories in the NHL, they engage in the physical side of the game, and they have a goal song that has to be maddening for opposing players to listen to.

But they lack the same element of grit that helped get so many people behind that Lions team. The Red Wings can still be shoved around from time to time – it seems like the teams that give them the most problems are the ones that out-tough them.

Whether it was the “Bad Boys” era of Detroit Pistons basketball, the brand new gritty Lions of this season, or even the Grind Line that energized the Red Wings during four championship runs in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008, Detroit sports fans have always loved teams that don’t get pushed around. To really win the city of Detroit over, the Red Wings need to add more sandpaper to their roster, and preferably sandpaper that can maintain a consistent role in the lineup.

Help for Seider

In case you haven’t heard, Moritz Seider is currently enduring arguably the toughest deployment of any defenseman in recent memory. He starts a large number of his shifts in the defensive zone, and the coaching staff leans on him as the primary shutdown guy on the back end.

Oh, and let’s not forget that he is still just 22 years old.

Impressively, Seider has mostly been able to handle the assignments given to him. His offensive game seems to have stagnated a bit with his point per-game pace mirroring his rate from last season. It is hard to expect much more from him, however, given the hand he is dealt on a nightly basis.

With that in mind, the Red Wings could use another shutdown presence on their blue line. They do not need to bring in another top pairing defenseman, but it would benefit Seider and the rest of their defensemen to acquire someone that can reliably play rugged, shutdown defense for 18-to-20 minutes a night. After all, the Red Wings haven’t had issues with scoring this season – their issues have primarily come in their own zone.

A Top 6 Forward to Play with Larkin or Kane

It almost feels greedy to desire more firepower given how well Detroit’s offense has performed this season. They rank fifth in the NHL in goals per-game (3.50), and they have been able to outscore their defensive issues on several occasions. There is elite-level talent on both their first and second lines, and their bottom six has been good at sustaining pressure and creating quick-strike offensive opportunities.

But there is still room to improve, especially when looking at the team’s top six.

Dylan Larkin Detroit Red Wings
Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Red Wings’ top line has routinely featured captain Dylan Larkin centering Lucas Raymond and either Alex DeBrincat or David Perron. Since December, their second line has included Patrick Kane, J.T. Compher and DeBrincat or Perron. The line that performs the best on a given night is usually the one that DeBrincat is on; his chemistry with Kane is well-documented and well-observed at this point, and the trio of DeBrincat-Larkin-Raymond is the Red Wings’ best-performing top line this season. What their top six could really use is another player that can make a DeBrincat-level impact on the ice (but then again, what team wouldn’t benefit from adding that type of player?)

This is the need that is least likely to be addressed due to the cost to acquire that type of player. That being said, they have the assets to make a big move if they want to. Jonatan Berggren continues to marinate in the American Hockey League, and the trade deadline should give us an answer on whether or not he factors into the Red Wings’ plans moving forward. Their first round pick looks like it will land in the 14 to 18 range – would Yzerman be willing to move it if it meant acquiring a player that could help the team this season and beyond?

What do you think is the Red Wings’ biggest need at this season’s trade deadline? Do you think they should be buyers or sellers, or do you think they should sit this deadline out? Let us know down in the comments section!

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