Red Wings: 5 Trade Bait Prospects at 2024 Trade Deadline

The Hockey Writers

For the first time in Steve Yzerman’s tenure as general manager (GM) of the Detroit Red Wings, he is positioned to add at the NHL Trade Deadline rather than subtract. The Red Wings hold the first wild card position in the Eastern Conference and have a three point cushion on the second wild card spot. They are fourth in the Atlantic Division and just two points back of third place.

Needless to say, it’s a fun time to be a Red Wings fan.

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As Red Wings fans know quite well by now, the marketplace at the trade deadline is filled with buyers and sellers. Buyers typically send away future assets in exchange for players that will help immediately. After years of selling, the Red Wings are uniquely positioned to make a big push at this deadline if they want to as they have all of their draft picks as well as a prospect pool that practically bursting at the seams. Just because they have all these assets, however, does not mean that every single one of them is for sale.

In fact, Yzerman is likely unwilling to part with most of their top prospects considering they are the key to building and establishing a team that can contend for years to come. That does not mean that there aren’t some prospects that he would be willing to move under the right circumstances, however.

These are the prospects the Red Wings could include in a deal if they want to buy at the deadline.

(LW/RW) Jonatan Berggren

Let’s start with the obvious one. Throughout the season, there have been reports of a fractured relationship between winger Jonatan Berggren and the Red Wings’ front office. After playing in over 60 NHL games last season, the 23-year-old was assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League (AHL) to start this season. To this point, he has played in just nine NHL games this season and, reportedly, would like an NHL roster spot, one way or another. After setting the Griffins’ rookie scoring record during the 2021-22 season (64 points in 70 games), he has 41 points in 39 games this season.

Related: Red Wings Could Add by Subtraction at 2024 Trade Deadline

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The Fourth Period reported that Berggren recently rejected a contract extension with Detroit and continues to angle for a full-time NHL gig. They also report that at least five teams have expressed interest, including the Calgary Flames and Montreal Canadiens – both of which have pieces they could sell at the deadline. As more time goes on, it almost seems like a foregone conclusion that this situation will be addressed by the time the deadline passes.

(LW) Cross Hanas

Perhaps a more lesser-known prospect, Cross Hanas was a second round pick of the Red Wings back in 2020. A native of Highland Village, Texas, the winger is in his second season with the Griffins after posting nine goals and 17 points in 30 games last season. His production has taken a hit this season, however; he has five goals and 11 points in 39 games and has had nights where he has sat as a healthy scratch.

Hanas, at his best, is a playmaker. In the Western Hockey League, he was adept at finding passing lanes and moving the puck into the scoring areas of the ice. Last season, he showed an added scoring touch and an assertiveness with and without the puck. For one reason or another, those elements have been absent from his game this season, and that may allow the Red Wings to consider including him in a trade package. He is still young at 22 years old and could be an enticing piece for a team looking to add a talented, sometimes spunky winger to their prospect pool.

(D) William Wallinder

William Wallinder is another player the Red Wings added in the 2020 draft – in fact, he was the first player off the board in the second round. Since his draft day, he has been described as a raw talent that needs time to fully realize his potential. In his first season in North America, we are seeing proof of that fact.

Though Wallinder has shown signs of being a similar to Moritz Seider on the ice, he is one of many left-handed defensemen in Detroit’s prospect pool. This fact alone makes Wallinder an easier piece to part with in the right deal. Given that he still likely needs at least two more seasons before he is making meaningful contributions at the NHL level, he isn’t a prospect that would immediately burn the Red Wings for moving on from him. He is sort of an underrated gem in Detroit’s prospect pool, given all the other defensive talents it contains, but that is what makes him such an attractive asset to both the Red Wings and prospective trade partners.

(LW/RW) Elmer Söderblom

This is a name that might make some folks shake their head as Elmer Söderblom was recently one of the most exciting prospects in Detroit’s prospect pool. The 6-foot-8 behemoth earned a roster spot with the Red Wings out of training camp last season and played in 21 games before finishing out the season in Grand Rapids. Despite all that promise, he seems to have taken a noticeable step backwards, and that might be enough for the Red Wings front office to consider moving on from him.

Söderblom’s best asset is his size, and he is at his best when he is using it to his advantage. When he is on his game, he is a tenacious forechecker and puck-carrier that can create pressure all on his own in both offensive and defensive situations. Unfortunately, his effort level hasn’t always been consistent this season or last, and that inconsistency is why he has not played a single game in Detroit this season. He is a unique prospect given the tools at his disposal, but his potential isn’t exactly sky-high. If a potential trading partner falls in love with his size, the Red Wings probably won’t be averse to moving him.

(D) Albert Johansson

Much like Wallinder, Albert Johansson’s inclusion on this list is, in large part, due to the sheer number of defensive prospects the Red Wings have accumulated. He was a second round pick back in 2019, the same draft that yielded Seider and Söderblom, but he has yet to play a single game for the Red Wings. At 23 years of age, Johansson is reaching a point where he has to get a look in the NHL, whether it’s in Detroit or somewhere else, just to see if he’s on track to be an everyday defender in the best hockey league in the world.

Albert Johansson Grand Rapids Griffins
Albert Johansson, Grand Rapids Griffins (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

You could argue that Johansson is the Red Wings’ most NHL-ready defense prospect, ahead of Simon Edvinsson and Axel Sandin Pellikka. Despite being left-handed, Johansson can play both sides of the blue line – a valuable asset for any team looking to include him in their future plans. His offensive upside is limited, but he has strong two-way ability and has played professional hockey, at one level or another, for four and a half seasons at this point. If a trading partner wants a prospect that could feasibly make the jump to the NHL soon, he might be the best option.

Buyer Beware

The Red Wings may be in a position to buy at this year’s trade deadline, but that does not necessarily mean they have to. In fact, there’s a good argument to be made that they should just stay put and ride the lineup and chemistry that got them to this point – don’t fix what isn’t broken, right? Given that the deadline is almost always a seller’s market, the Red Wings would probably be wise to refrain from making any big deals and instead look to add depth pieces at low cost.

Related: Red Wings Could Add by Subtraction at 2024 Trade Deadline

That being said, if the right deal is out there, the Red Wings should absolutely consider it, even if it means parting with players on this list. Yzerman already showed with the Patrick Kane signing that he’s willing to add if it gives his team a better chance to push for the playoffs, but that move didn’t cost them any assets other than cap space. Is Yzerman willing to push some chips to the middle of the table, or will the slow, steady pace of the Red Wings’ rebuild continue on?

With the deadline being just eight days away, we won’t have to wait too much longer to find out.

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