Red Wings Should Kick Tires on Trade for Rutger McGroarty

The Hockey Writers

The Philadelphia Flyers found themselves in a very difficult position this season when it was reported that Cutter Gauthier – the fifth overall pick from the 2022 NHL Draft – had no intention of signing with the organization. Philadelphia then traded the forward to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Jamie Drysdale and a 2025 second-round draft pick. Flyers general manager Danny Briere told reporters that the trade “was a long time coming.” Briere said when the team drafted Gauthier that the forward told the front office that he was “built to be a Flyer and wanted to be a Flyer” before ultimately changing his mind. If the reports out there are true, the Winnipeg Jets may be facing a similar situation with forward Rutger McGroarty, the team’s first-round selection (14th overall) from the 2022 Draft.

McGroarty recently announced that he is returning to the University of Michigan in the NCAA for a third season, something that raised eyebrows in league circles, especially when you consider his development path and skill level. According to multiple reports, including Elliotte Friedman on the 32 Thoughts podcast, McGroarty was not too thrilled about the lack of a contract offer at the end of his sophomore season at Michigan. Winnipeg may now look to move the rugged power forward to another team, possibly before this Friday’s first round at Sphere in Las Vegas. I have to believe that Detroit brass has taken a good look at McGroarty, as he’s been playing in Detroit – first with the Honey Baked program and then with the United States National Development Team program in Ann Arbor – for close to a decade.

Related: Islanders Need to Target Jets’ Rutger McGroarty in a Trade

McGroarty blends size and skill, something the Red Wings could really use right about now. The 6-foot-1 winger is an excellent puck handler and does not shy away from contact. He’s a bull in a china shop – which was on full display at the 2023 World Junior Championship (WJC). The Lincoln, Nebraska native put up nine points (five goals and four assists) in seven games while also serving as the captain for Team USA. He was by far and away the best player for the Americans in the tournament.

McGroarty had a breakthrough season with the Wolverines as well, posting 16 goals and 36 assists for 52 points in 36 games. While he’s not the best skater, the intangibles he provides make him a solid prospect for any team willing to acquire him. His willingness to play a 200-foot game while showing high-end leadership abilities will endear him to general managers all across the league. Now 20 years old, it appears his future could lie with another team. He’s ready to play in the NHL. But where will he land?

Kick the Tires on McGroarty

I’ve been saying it all offseason, everyone’s favorite “acquisition term” should once again be in play for Red Wings’ GM Steve Yzerman. “Kick those tires”, Mr. Yzerman. It is at least worth an inquiry into Winnipeg’s asking price for McGroarty’s services. I could see him slotted in on the third line in the next year or two with Marco Kasper and Michael Rasmussen, creating a modern-day “Grind Line” with size and grit. McGroarty could even develop into the kind of winger that can be versatile up and down the lineup in a transitional role for Detroit. As I stated earlier, size and skill are two of the biggest needs in Motown and the rugged forward can provide just that.

Asking Price for McGroarty

I have to assume that Winnipeg is looking for equal value, which is right in the range that Detroit selects this Friday at the draft. The Red Wings’ first selection is at 15 and I’m curious if Yzerman would dangle that carrot for an NHL-ready prospect. I’m not sure I make that deal but I would definitely consider next year’s first-rounder – although top ten protected – and a mid-level prospect.

Rutger McGroarty Michigan Wolverines
Rutger McGroarty, Michigan Wolverines (Michigan Photography)

Detroit’s GM has already started the wheeling and dealing, acquiring a second-round pick – originally the Tampa Bay Lightning’s selection – and a prospect from the Nashville Predators in exchange for defenseman Andrew Gibson just three days before the draft. Hours later, the Red Wings announced they were trading defenseman Jake Walman and the same draft pick they had just acquired in exchange for future considerations. It appears something could be brewing in Detroit.

The Final Word on McGroarty

Look, a lot of teams will be in play for McGroarty’s services if the reports out of Winnipeg are true. He provides a combination of everything that NHL GMs look for these days. But I’m curious about his Michigan ties and what that could mean for Detroit. What would a deal look like? Could forward Jonatan Berggren and a third-round pick get it done for Jets’ GM Kevin Cheveldayoff? It’s a reasonable offer as Berggren’s future still seems murky with the club. The former second-round pick has shown that he can produce at the NHL level. It’s hard to say at the moment, but I have a feeling we are gonna see some kind of move made in the next few days that will answer this question. Whether it’s McGroarty or not, it feels like Yzerman has something up his sleeve.

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