As rumors swirl, Red Wings try to block out trade speculation
Nashville — Mercifully, in two weeks, it’ll be over. The NHL trade deadline is Feb. 25 at 3 p.m.
Hopefully, it’ll arrive here before any hockey fans' eyeballs explode reading the endless speculation, trade rumors, and endless analysis and predictions of who will go where.
For the players and coaches, too, it’s a surreal time.
For those closely affected, the impending unrestricted free agents who are easy trade pieces and rentals for playoff contenders, it’s particularly jarring.
Forward Gustav Nyquist is one of those potential UFAs whose name is in many rumors.
“I’d be lying if I said you didn’t hear anything,” Nyquist said after Monday’s practice at Bridgestone Arena. “You see and hear the rumors, whatever they are. I’m not too much on social media, but you hear about them.”
Nyquist joins goaltender Jimmy Howard, forwards Thomas Vanek and Martin Frk, and defensemen Niklas Kronwall, Nick Jensen and Luke Witkowski as potential free agents who could be moved.
Nyquist’s future with the Wings is unclear. General manager Ken Holland has said he’s making and receiving phone calls, and will continue to leading to the Feb. 25 deadline.
Holland also said he’d be open to re-signing some of his potential free agents, which likely includes Nyquist, 29, who is nearing a career-best season with 33 assists and 47 points (along with 14 goals).
“We have a couple of more weeks left,” said Nyquist, almost reassuring himself all the talk will soon be over. “I try not to think about any of it. But I like said, I’d be lying if I said you don’t hear anything about it.
“But in saying that, I personally just try to focus on hockey. That’s all I can control — and time will tell, with whatever happens.”
With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, coach Jeff Blashill will address the situation with players affected by the speculation.
“You have to be aware of it,” Blashill said. “Especially the guys who are moving into UFA, and that potential of being traded.
“You have to be aware of it. They’re humans. Everybody is a little bit different. Some guys have been through it and others haven’t.
“It can affect you.”
Blashill’s message the last several seasons at this time of year is to “control what you can only control”.
“Play every day, and if you play great hockey, life is good,” Blashill said.
The fathers trip is winding down, with the road trip ending after Tuesday’s game in Nashville.
The Wings’ dads have been on the team meetings, all the meals, on the flights to Buffalo, Chicago and Nashville, and mingled around Monday’s practice.
“We’ve got a great group of people in our locker room, and you can tell the apples don’t fall from the trees,” Blashill said. “It’s a special group of people.”
Blashill, who has his brother on the trip, has been able to interact with many of the parents.
Some of the parents have jokingly jostled Blashill about getting more ice time for their kids.
“They all, of course, want their kids to play more,” Blashill said. “My mom wants me to coach more, and all that. That’s just the reality of it.
“I’m a dad. I get it, 100 percent.”
Blashill is likely to shuffle lines Tuesday in order to get a dormant offense going.
“We have to find a way to score a little bit more while keeping good defensive structure,” Blashill said. “If you don’t score, you can’t make any mistakes, and nobody is going to play like that.
“Our defensive structure has been good since the Philadelphia game (Dec. 18). But we have to find a way to score, so when you do make mistakes, you’re allowed to make it.”
Tyler Bertuzzi (upper body) and Trevor Daley (foot) both practiced Tuesday, but only Daley appears ready to return to the lineup against Nashville.
Who comes out, and who returns, all while fathers and mentors are on the trip, can be a dicey situation, but Blashill said team comes first.
“You’re cognizant of the fact for sure, but in the end, we have to make decisions on what we think gives us the best chance of winning the hockey game,” Blashill said.
Red Wings at Predators
Faceoff: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 FM
Outlook: Nashville (33-20-5, 71 points) has split its last 10 games (5-4-1) and trails Winnipeg by only two points in the Central Division. … C Ryan Johansen (39 assists, 50 points), D Roman Josi (34 assists) and G Pekka Rinne (19-14-3, .914 SVS) are the nucleus of a deep team.