The NHL’s annual trading deadline was at 3pm Eastern — and today was a little more active than last year. However, the Red Wings weren’t among the teams that made a big move to bolster their lineup with a month to go before the playoffs. General Manager Ken Holland said that they went after a handful of guys (all of them forwards — the defense was shored up a few days ago with the acquisition of Kyle Quincey), but in the end it was going to cost too much to get them in a Winged Wheel jersey. In total, he said, four guys they inquired about ended up being moved — one of which was confirmed to have been Buffalo’s Paul Gaustad, who moved to our division rival Nashville Predators.
It may be disappointing that the Red Wings weren’t able to improve their club via acquisition at the deadline, but I don’t believe they’ve made a huge error. Paul Gaustad is a good hockey player, but he’s not the piece that will send a team over the edge — if you ask me. If he was, the Sabres wouldn’t have been floundering since he got to the big leagues. The Nashville Predators are already a very good team, and they have remained a very good team through the deadline. If they win the Stanley Cup this season, it’ll be with Paul Gaustad and not because of him.
If you expanded the Deadline to include the five days prior to it, the Red Wings got their man: former Colorado Avalanche defenseman Kyle Quincey. Having given up their first round pick, as well as middling prospect Sebastien Piche, the Red Wings felt comfortable with their back-end heading into the spring. If a deal for a forward was there, Holland would have taken it — but he wasn’t going to mortgage the future for a potential rental player like Gaustad or Sami Pahlsson (who ended up in Vancouver).
Detroit was involved in a minor deal this afternoon — trading Mike Commodore to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a conditional seventh round pick. It’s been made clear that this deal was more of a practical move than a situational one: the Red Wings needed the contract space for a potential forward … and Mike Commodore wasn’t going to be a player they used in the playoffs anyway, with both Holland and Coach Mike Babcock chiming in that Brendan Smith is ready and preferred over Commodore. Smith, by the way, was called up and will be in the lineup tomorrow against the Blue Jackets — the aforementioned Kyle Quincey has a sore groin and won’t be able to play.
Commodore, for his part, had some lovely things to say on Twitter as he was preparing to leave town and catch a flight south:
Thanks for all the tweet folks. I appreciate it. Unexpected busy day. Although my time in the D was short I really did have a great time..
I really enjoyed the city of Detroit, and met a lot of great people around town. I really can’t say enough about the players in that..
locker room. Great guys and a lot of great people in the organization that I will miss. I wish then nothing but the best.
But its time to move on. Super excited to get to Tampa and get things rolling in the state of Florida. What’s that line from #Slapshot?
The fact is — the Red Wings were comfortable with their team and are confident that this is a group of players that can make some noise in the playoffs. Without giving up too much of their future, they’ve solidified the present and will take a legitimate run at the Cup. While some of their direct obstacles may have improved — none of them left Detroit in the dust today. The Wings are good as anyone in the league — pre-deadline and post-deadline.
The alarmists would have you believe that everyone improved around them, while the Red Wings stood pat. I don’t necessarily see that as the case, but I understand the initial panic: teams like Vancouver were aggressive today, and the Red Wings were their usual casual selves: confident in a group that plays very strongly at home… less so on the road. Maybe it’s Vancouver’s year, and maybe it’s not: but one thing is certain — the Red Wings Way has blazed a path for four Stanley Cups in the last 15 years. The Canucks Way hasn’t won a goddamn thing in the last forever years.
Expect guys like Chris Conner and Gustav Nyquist to make their way from Grand Rapids to Detroit over the next couple of weeks. They may not be regulars when the playoffs start, but they’re certainly good players we have ready to hit the ice. Brendan Smith is already in Detroit and will be looked at closely to see if he’s going to pull a Helm/Abdelkader/Ericsson: guys that were called up to be ringers in the playoffs.