Red Wings Mailbag: Free Agency, Trades, Draft Targets & More

The Hockey Writers

With the 2024 Stanley Cup Final underway, only a couple weeks separate the Detroit Red Wings from the meat of the offseason. That’s right, the 2024 NHL Draft and free agency are just around the corner.

So with peak offseason quickly approaching, I thought it would be a good time for a mailbag. There’s lots to discuss – draft targets, trade ideas, the free agent market, and more.

Let’s dive in.

Could the Red Wings Trade Ville Husso?

SpartyMT asks, “Are the Red Wings going to try to move Husso this summer? If not, how do they acquire another goalie with a significant contract?

Yes and no. Surely, Steve Yzerman will chat with other general managers about acquiring a No. 1 goalie, though there’s no guarantee anything actually materializes. But if there’s a deal that the Red Wings can’t pass up, then Husso more than likely will be going back the other way in return.

Ville Husso Detroit Red Wings
Where do the Red Wings stand with Ville Husso? (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Take the Anaheim Ducks, for example. If Steve Yzerman and Pat Verbeek get together and swing a deal to send John Gibson to the Red Wings, then Husso would have to be part of the trade package. For one, Detroit can’t afford both Gibson and Husso. In addition, the Ducks would need someone to split time with Lukas Dostal. Husso would be a stopgap solution there with his contract expiring in 2025.

That’s the only type of scenario where I see Husso leaving Detroit. As for other situations like a buyout or trading him in anticipation of another move, I don’t see those happening.

Generally speaking, I don’t think Detroit is set on moving Husso. In fact, I think they’d be comfortable going into the 2024-25 season with him and Alex Lyon as the tandem – or as the triumvirate with a cheap free agent joining the fray.

Related: Wolak’s Mock Offseason for the Red Wings

I know a lot of readers are uncomfortable with Husso as Detroit’s starting goalie. That’s understandable. That said, last season was a wash – he got hurt and kept reaggravating the injury trying to come back. He’ll be fully healthy for training camp and—entering a contract year—will be ready to prove he’s the starter.

Is Shai Buium Expendable?

Braden asks, “Did you consider Shai Buium as a trade chip when compiling your list?”

This is in reference to the list of Detroit’s trade chips I included as part of my recent Red Wings Trade Board article. Buium was not among the 10 most valuable assets the organization could part with this summer.

Frankly, all blueliners not named Moritz Seider, Simon Edvinsson, and Axel Sandin Pellikka should be on the table when discussing trades. As for Buium in particular, he’s one of several mid-tier left defense prospects in the system, with the others being William Wallinder, Albert Johansson, and Brady Cleveland. 

Not everyone will be part of Detroit’s future. Edvinsson will be, for sure, which leaves two lineup spots on the left side open for others to fill, whether that’s by the prospects I mentioned above, trade/free agent acquisitions, or players not even drafted yet.

Buium should be considered a trade chip. But, as with anyone else, the Red Wings should carefully consider the value associated with the return relative to what they could get from Buium himself.

Keep or Trade Olli Määttä?

Anonymous asks, “Not sure why people want to move Määttä? For what he’s paid he has been a great addition to the Wings!”

I agree – considering his role and cap hit, Määttä has been solid for the Red Wings. The problem, though, is that Detroit has several players who play the same role – third-pairing defense.

Of Detroit’s depth blueliners, Määttä is the easiest to move. He’s in the final year of his contract and has a palatable $3 million cap hit. The 29-year-old plays a consistent and low-maintenance game, and would fit in with most teams. 

The Red Wings also need cap space. Clearing Määttä’s cap hit will go a long way in affording more impactful players (i.e. top-four right defenseman and/or top-six forward).

For these reasons, the Red Wings should move Määttä. That’s just the reality of the organization’s current situation.

Red Wings’ Draft Contingencies

@skinzy86 asks, “Do the Red Wings go best-player available in the draft if one of the defensemen slide? Pipeline seems strong on D and in the net. You’d assume offense needs to be the priority this year.”

That’s a great question. Let’s assume Carter Yakemchuk is available at No. 15. That means Beckett Sennecke, Cole Eiserman, Michael Brandsegg-Nygard, Berkly Catton, and Konsta Helenius have been chosen already. What do the Red Wings do?

My first reaction is to trade down. Someone out there will want a goal-scoring, right defenseman. The St. Louis Blues pick next and seem poised to select a blueliner. Maybe the Chicago Blackhawks will want to jump up from No. 18 to choose a defenseman if they take forward Ivan Demidov at No. 2.

Otherwise, the Red Wings should go with the best-player available, which, in this case, is Yakemchuk. In my opinion, he’s a stronger prospect than Michael Hage, Liam Greentree, Igor Chernyshov, and other forwards still available. I could be talked into Hage, but elite right defensemen are hard to come by, and having too many of them would be a nice luxury for the Red Wings.

Related: Red Wings 2024 NHL Draft: 5 Draft Day Mock Trades

One last note: Yakemchuk has a September 2005 birthday, which means he’ll be eligible to play in the AHL during his draft-plus-two season. Most CHL players are required to play juniors for two more years after being drafted, but not Yakemchuk. This was the same case for Sebastian Cossa and Nate Danielson, who both turned pro instead of going back to junior for their draft-plus-two year.

Second-Round Draft Target for Detroit

@retire___91 asks, “John Mustard as a second-round pick?”

I like John Mustard as a fit for the Red Wings, but have a few players ahead of him on my list of second-round targets. Defenseman Alfona Freij and forward Sam O’Reilly could be available at No. 47, and are better prospects in my opinion than Mustard. But if they’re gone, along with a couple other high-quality players I have in mind, then Mustard would be an excellent choice for the Red Wings.

“His athleticism, skating, competitiveness and well-rounded skill will carry him a long way,” noted prospect analyst Scott Wheeler of Mustard (from ‘2024 NHL Draft ranking: Macklin Celebrini, Ivan Demidov lead Scott Wheeler’s final top 100’ – The Athletic – 6/3/24).

Sounds like a Red Wings draft pick to me.

Another Red Wings Trade Target

TAV asks, “What about a trade for Rasmus Andersson instead of signing Matt Roy?”

I like Rasmus Andersson. He’s a solid two-way defenseman with a reasonable cap hit, and would be a great partner for Simon Edvinsson.

That said, I think the Red Wings are better off adding to the blue line via free agency and saving their trade chips for a top-six forward. Matt Roy is my top choice to sign, plus there’s Brandon Montour, Dylan DeMelo, Brett Pesce, Chris Tanev, Sean Walker, and Matt Dumba as alternatives. If the Red Wings can’t land one of these players, then they should circle back and kick tires on Andersson.

Related: Red Wings’ Hidden Gem Trade Target for the 2024 Offseason

Honestly, this has nothing to do with the player himself, but rather the market this summer. There’s a high supply of top-four right defensemen and a low supply of top-six forwards. Detroit should prioritize accordingly.

Feel strongly about one of these Red Wings topics? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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