Red Wings return on road, brace for trade deadline

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Red Wings returned to work Monday not knowing what the workforce will look like in about two days.

Coming off a five-day bye week, the Red Wings had an intense practice Monday, then flew to Vancouer for a start of a five-game road trip Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks.

But on everyone’s minds is Wednesday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, where the Red Wings are likely going to be sellers.

With thoughts of the playoffs slipping further way during the five days they didn’t play, the Red Wings are expected to shop potential unrestricted free agents Thomas Vanek, Brendan Smith and Steve Ott, along with pretty much everyone else (Riley Sheahan is one name suddenly being mentioned in rumors).

So, the next 48 hours could be an interesting time around the Red Wings.

“This time of year you just have to take it in stride,” said goaltender Jimmy Howard (sprained knee), who will make the trip, practice, and is hopeful of doing a conditioning stint in Grand Rapids later this week. “It’s part of the business, out of your hands. When it comes to yourself, you just have to go out and perform.”

Vanek and Smith are the two players most likely to leave, although both still are hopeful of reaching new contracts with the Red Wings.

Smith said his agent is in negotiations with the team and will continue to talk up until Wednesday’s deadline.

The Red Wings are the only organization Smith has played for, and he’d like to continue that streak.

If the two sides can agree on a multi-year deal at somewhere between $3.5 million to $4 million, the Red Wings might be willing to keep Smith.

“We’re talking for sure,” Smith said. “(If) it works out to benefit both myself and the team, it would be great. But until that moment, I don’t know what to tell you guys.”

The unknown of the free-agent market, Smith said, makes that route a tricky one.

“It’s just the unknown,” Smith said. “You don’t know where you’ll be, what team will offer the most, what’s a good situation for me. The unknown can be intimidating sometimes.

“I’ve always been happy here. I like playing here.”

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Vanek could fetch the Red Wings at least a second-round pick — and maybe a prospect or mid-round draft pick — and understands it’s all part of the business, although family considerations make a move this time of year difficult.

His young children — three boys, age 9 and 6-year-old twins — are in school and sports and would remain with his wife, while he’s living in a hotel room in another city.

“It’s hard. My boys are getting to an age where they miss Dad, too, and not just Mom,” Vanek said. “It’s hard. You miss a lot of their games and not seeing them, obviously, is not easy.

“But at the same time it’s the business we’re in and I love what I do and I can only do it for so long.

“It’s not the ideal situation (flying to Vancouver before the trade deadline) but you just pack a couple more suits and extra suitcase and we’ll see.”

Flying to the West Coast coming off the bye makes it just a little more difficult for the Red Wings, while dealing with trade rumors for the next two days.

“Today’s practice was fairly long and hard and that’s the best approach when you’re coming off a long break,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “(Tuesday morning) I want to get some stuff done and make sure our habits are in a good spot and we have energy when the puck drops.

“We’re going to dress our best guys on Tuesday (for the Vancouver game), the lineup that gives our best chance to win.”

Ice chips

Howard said he was feeling better, after not seeing much progress with his knee early last week.

“Just didn’t respond as well as we’d hoped,” Howard said. “But today was very strong, I didn’t feel the knee at all actually. That’s a great sign.”

… The Red Wings officially recalled goalie Jared Coreau to back up Petr Mrazek, and forward Drew Miller, who’ll take the roster spot of Tomas Jurco (traded Friday to Chicago).

Blashill scouted Grand Rapids last weekend, but said there are no plans currently to bring any Griffins.

“Miller was the guy we were bringing back right now for the spot he’s coming back for,” said Blashill, who doesn’t want to recall a young prospect and have them sit at the NHL level.

Red Wings at Canucks

Faceoff: 10 p.m. Tuesday, Rogers Arena, Vancouver

TV/radio: FSD/97.1 FM

Outlook: Vancouver (26-29-6, 58 points) has gone 3-7-0 over its last 10 games and fallen out of playoff consideration. ... C Bo Horvat (40 points) is a player to build around, but C Henrik Sedin (37 points) and LW Daniel Sedin (35 points) are getting older, with declining production.