Red Wings: 3 Ideal Trade Partners for 2024 Offseason

The Hockey Writers

With the calendar about to flip to May, the Detroit Red Wings are about to begin their first full month without hockey this year. For them, the offseason began a couple weeks ago after they fell just short of clinching a playoff spot. But now that the devastation of missing the playoffs has passed, the time to look forward to the offseason is now upon us.

During his end-of-season media scrum, Red Wings general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman made it known that his team will not look the same entering next season for a variety of reasons. He said that, along with making room for young players without waiver exemptions next season, he also wants to improve the team, specifically on the defensive side. Considering the Red Wings finished in the bottom-10 in goals-against this season, it’s probably fair to assume that any maneuver to improve the team’s defensive output will be considered.

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Unfortunately, finding and acquiring improvements likely won’t be as easy as it was the last two offseasons. The Red Wings’ salary cap situation won’t allow them to go on a spending spree this offseason, but they should have enough wiggle room to bring in some new faces, especially if they are able to send some existing contracts elsewhere in the process. Because of this, the trade market may be very appealing for the Red Wings this offseason.

Related: Analyzing the Red Wings’ Organizational Depth Heading Into 2024-25

While Yzerman is no stranger to making blockbuster trades, it helps to identify which teams are a potential fit for such a deal. After all, every deal requires at least two interested parties, and the best deals are ones where all parties feel like they accomplished a goal afterwards. With that in mind, here are three teams the Red Wings should be calling to gauge their interest in making a deal.

Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames are in the midst of a retool that has seen a number of longtime players dealt away to make way for younger players and draft picks. Flames GM Craig Conroy is expected to remain busy this offseason as he continues to put his mark on the Flames’ roster.

In the weeks leading to the trade deadline, there was a lot of chatter about the status of starting goaltender Jacob Markström. The 34-year-old was Vezina Trophy finalist back in 2022, and he nearly dragged the Flames back into playoff contention after their selling spree began. Reports suggested that Conroy was close to trading the Swedish goaltender to the New Jersey Devils, but the deal fell through at some point. With two years left on his contract, Markström might be the proven starting goaltender the Red Wings have lacked for years.

Additionally, the Flames have some skaters that could interest the Red Wings if they wanted to make a bigger trade. Both Rasmus Andersson and MacKenzie Weegar would be instant upgrades on the right side of Detroit’s blue line, but neither would come cheap. Andersson is probably the more appealing option given his age (27) and contract status (two more years at $4.55 million), and his two-way ability would compliment Jake Walman or even Simon Edvinsson on the Red Wings’ second pairing. 

The Flames would have to take some money back to make a move work, but they would likely welcome some NHL-ready bodies to play with the young players they are turning the roster over to. Players like Joe Veleno, Jonatan Berggren, Olli Määttä and Alex Lyon could be of interest to Calgary as well as some of the Red Wings’ prospects. 

Minnesota Wild

Like the Flames, the Minnesota Wild are retooling their roster to make way for some of their up and coming players. Despite their status as a middling team in recent seasons, they have assembled a strong pool of prospects. Because of their collection of future talent, they may need to make some big decisions this offseason. 

Also like the Flames, the Wild have a goaltender they could look to sell in Filip Gustavsson. With Jesper Wallstedt waiting in the wings and Marc-Andre Fleury re-signed for next season, now might be the best opportunity for Minnesota to move on from the 25-year-old despite the two seasons left on his contract ($3.75 million per year). The Swedish goaltender is a veteran of 111 NHL games, including 80 starts for the Wild over the last two seasons. He may be young, but he isn’t unproven the same way Ville Husso and Alex Nedeljkovic were when the Red Wings rolled the dice on the them.

The topic of moving Gustavsson was addressed by Michael Russo and Joe Smith of The Athletic in a recent mailbag article:

Getting a first-rounder for Gustavsson seems unlikely, but perhaps the Wild could get a second. They’d probably prefer to get a rostered player back, anyway — ideally a middle-six winger…This isn’t a fire sale on Gustavsson, though. The Wild will listen on him, but they’re not going to just give him away.

from “What could Minnesota Wild get for Gustavsson? Will they trade Rossi? Mailbag, part 1”, The Athletic, 4/24/24

Aside from goaltending, the Wild may also look to move on from a young center, somewhat surprisingly. Marco Rossi, the team’s top selection in the 2020 draft (ninth overall), is potentially on the trade block due to the arrival of other players in their system. The Austrian center, who will turn 23 before the beginning of next season, just finished his first full NHL season. In 82 games, he recorded 21 goals and 40 points. 

Though undersized (5-foot-9, 182 pounds), Rossi oozes potential with his blend of offensive skill and competitiveness. Acquiring him would give the Red Wings someone that can compete with J.T. Compher for the second line center position, and he might pair well with fellow countryman Marco Kasper in the future (it would also allow the Red Wings to slow play Kasper becoming a center in the NHL). 

The Wild are reportedly interested in adding help on the wing; Veleno and Robby Fabbri could be included in a package to bring in both Rossi and Gustavsson, which would theoretically allow the Red Wings to improve their goaltending depth and potentially offset some of the offense they could lose in the offseason. As for any young players the Wild could covet, winger and 2022 second round pick Dmitri Buchelnikov stands out as Minnesota has started to assemble quite the collection of Russian talent, including Kirill Kaprizov and Marat Khusnutdinov.

Anaheim Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks and the Red Wings are connected through their GMs. Pat Verbeek, the Ducks’ GM, spent years as Yzerman’s right-hand man in both Tampa Bay and Detroit before becoming the Ducks’ lead decision-maker. It is safe to assume that they have each other’s numbers, and they will look to help each other address their needs if they can. 

As it so happens, the Ducks have a veteran goaltender in John Gibson that may be of interest to the Red Wings. The soon-to-be 31-year-old is a veteran of 477 NHL games, all with the Ducks, and has had to backstop some porous teams in Anaheim. He has three seasons left on his contract ($6.4 million per year) and would serve as a bridge to prospect Sebastian Cossa – and a potential tandem partner depending on when the young goaltender arrives in Detroit. 

John Gibson Anaheim Ducks
John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Ducks are overloaded with skilled forwards, and that has led to much speculation about the status of Trevor Zegras. The young forward is known for doing dazzling things with the puck, but he doesn’t seem to have a specific fit in the Ducks’ lineup moving forward. The Red Wings could jump at the opportunity to add a skilled forward that could, in theory, replace Patrick Kane in their lineup (assuming the veteran signs elsewhere this summer) and provide some star power in the lineup for years to come.

Verbeek likely has some favorite players in Detroit’s system due to his time in the organization, and that knowledge of the Red Wings’ depth chart could help pave the way for a deal. A deal for both Gibson and Zegras likely centers around Berggren, a legitimate NHL defenseman (potentially Walman), and a first round pick; Ville Husso would almost certainly be included in the deal as a way to offset the acquisition of Gibson’s salary. 

Final Word 

The Red Wings’ options are obviously not limited to the teams mentioned here, but these three teams all offer the opportunity to address multiple needs in a single maneuver. With the asset-accumulation phase of their rebuild seemingly over, Detroit now has the opportunity to fill out their roster by utilizing some of their extra players, prospects and picks as trade pieces. 

If the Alex DeBrincat trade from last year taught us anything, it’s that Yzerman is willing to trade future assets to address his team’s current needs, so long as the deal makes sense in the long-term. 

The question now becomes whether or not a similar opportunity will present itself this summer.

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