Red Wings' Holland encouraged by 'tire kicking' as trade deadline closes in
Detroit — There’s been quite a bit of tire kicking.
Now, we’ll see if any team wants to actually buy.
The NHL trade deadline is set for 3 p.m. (EST) Monday, and the Red Wings appear eager to sell pieces to playoff contending teams.
General manager Ken Holland has already made one move, trading defenseman Nick Jensen and a 2019 fifth-round draft pick (acquired from an earlier trade with Buffalo) to Washington for defenseman Madison Bowey and a 2020 second-round pick.
Before Monday afternoon, the Wings have two other significant pieces they could part with.
Forward Gustav Nyquist, who scored a goal in Sunday’s 5-3 loss to San Jose, and goaltender Jimmy Howard, are prospective unrestricted free agents who could interest teams looking for experienced rentals.
Holland has been receiving the “tire-kicking” phone calls from other teams. But how serious those other teams are about doing a trade, remains to be seen.
“Do I get lots of calls about lots of people? Yes, but I don’t know what that means,” Holland said. “I don’t know if somebody’s (a prospective acquisition) ninth on their depth chart, if he’s second on their depth chart. So what ends up happening from a managerial perspective is you call around.
“I call it tire-kicking. You start to talk about players, Have I got teams kicking tires? Yes, I don’t know what the tire-kicking means. I’m going to know between now and Monday.”
It doesn’t sound as if Holland expects to come to a contract extension with either Howard or Nyquist.
“I would say to you that (we’re) just going to see what happens on the trade front between now and Monday,” Holland said.
Nyquist would appear to be the more likely to be moved.
Playoff contenders are loading up on offensive depth, and with several teams in the West fairly even and looking for even the slightest edge, someone is likely to come calling about Nyquist, who is approaching a career-best season offensively.
There isn’t much of a market this season for goaltenders, although Sunday’s opponent, San Jose, has been rumored to be looking for depth in the last several days.
Sharks goaltenders Martin Jones and Aaron Dell both entered Sunday’s game with save percentages below .900 — alarming for a serious playoff contender.
Howard has stated his preference to remain in Detroit, and the Wings want to retain him with little goaltending depth in the organization.
But Holland will listen to what the Sharks are offering, if they kick tires regarding Howard.
The Wings were outshot 37-23 Sunday, including 31-8 over the final two periods.
During one juncture, the Wings were held without a shot for 26 minutes, 42 seconds.
Coach Jeff Blashill felt the Wings passed on opportunities.
“We had some real good chances and (the puck) never made it to the net,” Blashill said. “We had different times where we had more (push) than the shots indicated but certainly we defended too much without question.”
The Sharks used their experience and deep well of offensive talent to turn the game around.
“I don’t think they overwhelmed us, (but) obviously they’re a good team,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “We didn’t execute to a good enough level. We had a good first period, we have to carry that over.
“We had opportunities to shoot the puck and we didn’t. They did a good job of swarming in our offensive zone. They made it tough. We have to have more of a shooting mentality.”
Blashill was planning on playing veteran forward Thomas Vanek on a line with Filip Zadina, in Zadina’s NHL debut Sunday.
But that plan didn’t materialize, with Vanek suffering an injury during Saturday's practice.
“He had a little tweak (Saturday), he thought he was fine when he left the rink and I found out (Sunday) morning it wasn’t,” Blashill said.
Blashill wouldn’t speculate after the game as to how long Vanek would be out.
“I don’t have an answer,” Blashill said. “I talked to him as I was leaving to the bench and he didn’t feel great.”
Blashill said Howard should be ready to practice Monday. Goaltender Harri Sateri backed up Jonathan Bernier for the second consecutive game Sunday.
…The Wings are winless in five games overall (0-3-2) and four consecutive games at Little Caesars Arena (0-2-2).
…Nyquist had a season-high eight shots on net.
…Abdelkader had two assists Sunday, his first multi-point game since Nov. 19, 2017 against Colorado (one goal, one assist).
…Zadina became the first player to make his NHL debut for Detroit in the season after he was drafted since Keith Primeau in 1990-91.