Why Did the Red Wings Have a Quiet 2024 Trade Deadline?

The Hockey Writers

Sometimes, the best move is the one not made. That seems to be the theme for Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman, as the 2024 NHL trade deadline ended without any significant moves made for an organization looking to make a playoff push. But what does that all mean? Yzerman briefly spoke to the press and hammered home the fact that he did not want to part with prospects or future assets in an attempt to help the Red Wings reach the postseason for the first time since the 2015-16 season. Apparently, the juice was not worth the squeeze for the Detroit icon. Timing is everything in today’s NHL, and the team is not currently in an ideal position to make that “big deal.” They’ve shown us that.

Steve Yzerman Detroit Red Wings
Steve Yzerman, General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It’s no secret that Detroit has one of the best prospect pools in all of hockey, yet Yzerman wasn’t ready to pull the trigger for a team struggling to find consistency. The Red Wings currently sit in the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference but have been outperformed by a wide margin when playing some of the top clubs in the league, as we just recently witnessed this past week in games against the Florida Panthers and the Colorado Avalanche. Now is not the time for Detroit as the general manager continues to preach patience while he builds through the draft. It still may be a season or two away from making that big, impactful move that will put the organization over the top.

RELATED: Red Wings Top 25 Prospects: 2023-24 Midseason Update

Watching the Red Wings get mauled by the Avalanche this past Wednesday (March 6th) was probably the best and most clear indicator that the team is not ready to contend in the Stanley Cup playoffs. At this point in the rebuild, making the postseason and getting a taste of it should be the number one priority. Colorado exposed the many issues this team struggles with within a 7-2 lopsided victory. Defensive zone exits continue to plague the back end, and the Avalanche took full advantage of it.

This team needs to find a way to get more out of their blue liners, and it’s not hard to envision a massive overhaul in that department this summer. Yzerman has a lot on his plate this offseason, especially when you consider some of the big deals he’ll have to dish out to Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond. Key decisions must also be made on Patrick Kane, Daniel Sprong, and Shayne Gostisbehere. Where do they fit in the team’s long-term plans? I think it’s safe to say most fans would like to see all three brought back; making deals at the deadline is risky for a team still trying to figure out what their cap situation will look like heading into the 2024-25 season.

The hardest part for fans regarding the trade deadline is not knowing what goes on behind closed doors. What are teams asking for in return? GM etiquette prevents common folk from finding out, and Yzerman is known to keep everything close to the vest. We have no idea who or what they wanted, and you have to consider that before you judge his decision. When you look at some of the top teams in the league – the Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights – it’s not hard to see why they went all in. In the press conference today, Yzerman mentioned that this deadline mirrors the (junior) Canadian Hockey League (CHL) deadline in that the elite teams made all the big transactions. He also stated that this team is still continuing to build and that future assets were something he wasn’t ready to part with. In other words, he’s happy with what he has in the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, and reaffirmed that in today’s session. Patience is key, and Yzerman seems to have an overwhelming amount of it.

Now What

Jonatan Berggren will join the Red Wings heading to Sin City to play the Golden Knights this Saturday (March 8th). The talented 23-year-old prospect has been a hot topic in Detroit as many analysts predicted he would be moved at the trade deadline for a prime asset. Rumors have swirled that the young Swede is unhappy about playing in the AHL this season after 67 games with the big club last year. The former second-round pick flashed his offensive potential with 28 points during that span and was expected to see an increased role with the club for the 2023-24 season. Instead, he has flourished in Grand Rapids with 46 points in just 43 games, as he and – another potential call-up – prized prospect defenseman Simon Edvinsson have helped turn around the once-struggling Griffins. I have to believe Berggren was discussed in most conversations, but maybe this shows the organization that Yzerman wasn’t ready to give up on him just yet. He’s still gambling on his potential as the team heads to Las Vegas this weekend—the irony.

Jonatan Berggren Detroit Red Wings
Jonatan Berggren, Detroit Red Wings (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This is the most pivotal part of the season for the Red Wings, and one of the areas I thought the team would explore at the deadline was a shutdown defenseman. That’s not to say that it wasn’t discussed. Yzerman seemed visibly shaken on Friday during the first intermission with Detroit trailing the Arizona Coyotes 3-0, telling Bally’s Sports Detroit reporter Trevor Thompson that this team “needs to be better in all zones defensively.” He also mentioned Edvinsson earlier in the day when he said that both (he) and Berggren were “ready.” This is his club, and I think he wants to see how they handle some adversity during their first postseason push in nearly eight years. The hockey Gods know Yzerman has seen his fair share of that during his Hall of Fame career.

Simon Edvinsson Grand Rapids Griffins
Simon Edvinsson, Grand Rapids Griffins (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Most Red Wings fans may not agree with me here, but I believe it was the right move. I will have to revert to last season around this time and say Yzerman knows this team is just not ready. It’s not even close, and the patience may have to endure for a fan base starving for some playoff action in their beloved Little Caesars Arena. It can still happen, and it will be interesting to see what Berggren and (hopefully) Edvinsson can bring during this crucial stretch.

The Hockey Writers Substack banner Detroit Red Wings

Points are at a premium now, and I think this battle for the wild card spot will come down to the final few games. Losing Dylan Larkin to a lower-body injury for two weeks is not helping the matter, as the team suddenly seems a bit lost since their captain went down. I purposely waited to finish this article after their game with the Coyotes ended. The Red Wings were shut out 4-0 by one of the worst teams in hockey. They head to Vegas to play the defending Cup Champs on Saturday (March 9th). Now is the time for Detroit to find its identity as they enter this final stretch. Yzerman showed us at the deadline he wants to see what they’re made of.

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