Red Wings 2024 NHL Draft: 5 Draft Day Mock Trades

The Hockey Writers

The intrigue of the NHL Draft is, of course, the landing spots for each of the game’s draft eligible prospects. It’s the event where mock drafts are proven wrong or right as each NHL franchise adds a handful of new prospects to keep an eye on over the coming years. But no one can deny that palpable excitement whenever NHL commissioner Gary Bettman approaches the podium and says the words that have echoed throughout history:

“We have a trade to announce.”

So much of the fun that comes from watching the NHL Draft is the unexpected nature of draft day trades. You never know which teams are going to make a deal, and you never know when they are going to come. Detroit Red Wings general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman is no stranger to making deals on the draft floor; just last year he made a deal with the Edmonton Oilers that saw the Red Wings inherit Klim Kostin and Kailer Yamamoto in exchange for future considerations. The previous year, he flipped a third round pick (73rd overall) to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for goaltender Ville Husso. Yzerman and his colleagues will have another opportunity to wheel and deal on the draft floor when the 2024 NHL Draft begins on June 28 and ends the following day.

As for what kind of deals could be out there in this year’s edition of the NHL Draft, it’s anyone’s guess as rumors of top-10 picks and several intriguing players being available have begun to pop up throughout the league. Here are some ideas of what the Red Wings could get themselves into when all 32 NHL GMs meet at the NHL Draft.

Red Wings Move Back to Move Salary

Red Wings acquire 2024 picks 18 & 67; Blackhawks acquire (D) Justin Holl & pick 15

It is no secret that the Red Wings’ days of hoarding salary cap space are about to be behind them. Even with the recent announcement that next season’s salary cap is set at $88 million, a slight jump up from what was initially projected, the Red Wings will have to spend their money wisely this summer with big contracts on the way for Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond, as well as the team’s continued interest in retaining veterans David Perron and Patrick Kane. They have a projected $29.3 million to work with, though at least half of it is probably already accounted for.

Related: Detroit Red Wings’ 2024 Offseason Blueprint

The trade suggested here gives the Red Wings a little more breathing room. Detroit signed Justin Holl to a three-year deal last summer with an average annual value (AAV) of $3.4 million, but the 32-year-old defenseman appeared in just 38 games, making him quite expensive for a seventh defenseman. His value may be at an all-time low, but that does not mean he can’t provide value for a team under the right circumstances. For the Red Wings, this move sees them move back three spots in the first round and add an early third round pick to move the veteran of 323 games to the Chicago Blackhawks and free up extra cap space to work with.

The Blackhawks are inclined to do this deal because of the opportunities available at 15 – especially if there’s a surprise faller in the draft – and it only costs them a third round pick to go get their guy. They have nearly $33 million in cap space and they don’t have any key players to re-sign. Holl helps them to make progress towards the salary floor and fill out their roster, and his deal contract isn’t going to handcuff them as they slowly begin to build around Connor Bedard.

Red Wings Add Toughness at Little Cost

Red Wings acquire (W) Tanner Jeannot (33 percent retained); Lightning acquire 2024 pick 126

The prevailing sentiment from Yzerman’s end-of-season press availability was that he wants the Red Wings to be tougher to play against, both defensively and physically. Though Kostin didn’t play much throughout the season, you could feel the roster’s lack of overall physicality once the front office traded him to the San Jose Sharks at the trade deadline. Yzerman will be looking for ways to increase his team’s overall physicality, and he may find an opportunity to do just that by speaking with his previous employer, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Steve Yzerman Detroit Red Wings
Steve Yzerman, Detroit Red Wings (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Lightning are even more cap-strapped than the Red Wings this offseason. They currently have just $5.33 million in cap space, and perhaps you’ve heard that their captain needs a new deal. They need all the breathing room they can get, and Lightning GM Julien BriseBois has begun gauging interest in scrappy winger Tanner Jeannot to see if there is anyone interested in taking on the final year of his deal. It carries a cap hit $2.6 million, but his value has cratered after his fourth NHL season. After posting 24 goals and 41 points in 81 games with the Nashville Predators in the 2021-22 season, he has just eight goals and 18 points in 75 games with the Lightning since he was acquired ahead of the 2023 trade deadline.

While points are obviously welcome, physicality is where Jeannot really earns his keep. His 211 hits this season would have tied him with Seider for the team lead, and he’s a willing combatant with seven official fights last season (and a career high of 14 back in 2021-22). In this deal, the Red Wings add some sandpaper to their lineup in exchange for a fourth round pick, and they get it at a cap hit of $1.785 million. The Lightning add a pick and, more importantly, free up enough cap space to make a competitive offer to Steven Stamkos.

Red Wings Trade to Sign Guentzel

Red Wings acquire (W) Jake Guentzel (rights); Hurricanes acquire 2024 pick 80

The Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly shopping winger Jake Guentzel, a player they acquired at this year’s trade deadline. The catch is that the 29-year-old is a pending unrestricted free agent, so the Hurricanes are offering teams the opportunity to acquire him in hopes of ironing out a new contract before he hits the open market. According to NHL insider Elliotte Friedman, Carolina is looking for a mid round pick.

Yzerman and the Red Wings are not going to make a move like this unless they feel reasonably confident they can get the player signed. Their supposed interest in Guentzel goes back to the trade deadline, but even then insiders questioned whether Yzerman would be willing to give Guentzel the term he is looking for. The veteran of 520 games, who won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins back in 2017, had 30 goals and 77 points in 67 games last season split between the Hurricanes and the Penguins, so there’s no reason to doubt he can’t be an elite offensive producer for the foreseeable future.

The Red Wings aren’t the only team reportedly interested in acquiring Guentzel’s rights, and there’s no guarantee that the player will want to sign before looking at every option available to him on the open market. But as long as the opportunity is there, the Red Wings can absolutely stomach losing a mid round pick to add a player of his caliber.

Red Wings Trade Up

Red Wings acquire 2024 pick 12 & 77; Flyers acquire pick 15 & (W) Jonatan Berggren

What if there’s a player that falls out of the top-10 that the Red Wings simply must try to move up the draft board for? In the 2021 draft, Yzerman and the Red Wings traded up to acquire the 15th pick from the Dallas Stars in exchange for picks 23, 48 and 138. In that draft, the player Detroit moved up for was Sebastian Cossa; this year’s version could be a number of guys including Berkly Catton, Cole Eiserman and Tij Iginla.

This move sees the Red Wings utilize winger Jonatan Berggren, their top American Hockey League forward this season, as a trade chip to upgrade their first round pick and add another pick later in the draft. Berggren represents a cheap, young winger the cap-strapped Philadelphia Flyers could immediately plug into their middle six, and they still retain a top-15 pick in the process.

Another option would be to only use picks, just as the Red Wings did with the Stars in 2021. A move like that could see the Red Wings acquire picks 12 and 51 in exchange for picks 15, 47 and 126.

The Big Move

Red Wings acquire (G) Filip Gustavsson & (C) Marco Rossi; Wild acquire (LW) Robby Fabbri, (C) Joe Veleno, (W) Dmitri Buchelnikov, 2024 pick 47 & 2025 second round pick

If Yzerman wants to make a move that sends a rumble through the draft, he will look to address some of his roster’s current needs via a trade that features current NHLers. Moves like this don’t have to go down on the draft floor (the draft compensation can always move to next year) but doing so allows the teams to maneuver the draft board while also setting themselves up for the start of free agency, which begins just a few days after the draft.

In this proposed deal, the Red Wings find a willing partner in the Minnesota Wild. The Wild reportedly are listening to offers for a few of their players, namely goaltender Filip Gustavsson and center Marco Rossi. As they look to turn their roster over to certain prospects they’re excited about, such as goaltender Jesper Wallstedt and center Marat Khusnutdinov, both Gustavsson and Rossi look like their fit with the Wild is running out of time. This move sees them add a middle six scorer in Robby Fabbri, a replacement down the middle in Joe Veleno, a winger prospect in Dmitri Buchelnikov that would fit in nicely with their growing assortment of Russian talent, and a top-50 pick in this year’s draft.

Filip Gustavsson Minnesota Wild
Filip Gustavsson, Minnesota Wild (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In return, the Red Wings acquire a 26-year-old goaltender with 80 starts over the last two seasons, both with the Wild, and a skilled but undersized centerman that could change the look of the team’s top six. Gustavsson has 52 wins, a 2.73 goals-against average and a .912 save-percentage through 111 career games. He has two seasons left on his deal that carries an AAV of $3.75 million, and would add needed depth and upside to a position where the Red Wings could use it. Rossi, the ninth pick of the 2020 draft, made his debut as a full-time NHLer this season and produced 21 goals and 40 points. The Austrian center could find quick chemistry with Marco Kasper, the Red Wings’ top pick in the 2022 draft. Rossi’s playmaking ability would give him the opportunity to find a long-term fit in Detroit.

What Should the Red Wings Do?

Of course, the option to do nothing also exists. The Red Wings have a top-15 pick, a loaded prospect pool, and they finished a point shy of making the playoffs this season. The 2024 draft is perhaps the team’s last opportunity to make picks in the front half of each round, and the players selected in this draft could go a long way towards ensuring Detroit’s pipeline of talent doesn’t run dry anytime soon.

However, any GM would not be doing their job correctly if they weren’t at least privy to the options that are available to them, especially when all their counterparts are under the same roof. To that point, Yzerman and his staff will certainly have conversations from now to the start of the draft that may set the stage for for what the Red Wings ultimately do on the draft floor. If they are serious about taking the next step, the draft is their first opportunity to set themselves up to do exactly that next season.

What would you look to do if you were in Yzerman’s shoes? Let us know in the comments section down below!

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