Detroit — They’re going to attempt to be active and aggressive and acquire as many draft picks as possible.
But whether the Red Wings are able to do that is another question.
General manager Steve Yzerman said last month “our goal is to acquire more draft choices” before the Feb. 24 NHL trade deadline, during an interview on Wings’ website with radio broadcaster Ken Kal.
The Wings have eight picks thus far in June’s entry draft — one in the first, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds, and two each in the second and third rounds. So far, the Wings are without a fourth-round selection.
Whether they can secure more depends on if teams will be interested in what the Wings have to offer in trade.
The list of Wings prospective unrestricted free agents — the easiest, and most likely of players to be traded this time of year — isn’t exciting, nor have they been healthy or productive.
Once you get into the likes of Andreas Athanasiou, Luke Glendening or Darren Helm, players either with terms left on their contract, or in Athanasiou’s case, a restricted free agent in July, trying to find the right fit for a trade also becomes trickier.
“My plan isn’t to be passive,” Yzerman told Kal in last month’s interview. “Certainly, I’m looking for ways to build for the future and trying to acquire draft picks or prospects or young players that can come into the organization sooner or later.”
Here are players who are most likely to be available by the Red Wings at the trade deadline, in alphabetical order:
► Andreas Athanasiou: A potential restricted free agent this summer, Athanasiou has five goals and 19 points in 36 games, with a minus-35 plus-minus rating. Those stats pretty much tell you how Athanasiou’s season as gone. His value might not be nearly what it could be, but if Athanasiou returns from injury in the next week or two and gets on a roll, he could be an intriguing acquisition for someone. Athanasiou also would likely fetch Yzerman the best trade package that any available Wings player could get back.
► Trevor Daley: The veteran defenseman is an unrestricted free agent on July 1, but given his injury history the last two seasons, it’s unlikely teams will be aggressively calling these next several weeks. Daley, 36, reportedly has asked Yzerman to be traded, and two teams Daley played with before — Pittsburgh, Dallas — could have mild interest. That is, if Daley can stay healthy for a period of time. He’s only played 26 games this season.
► Robby Fabbri: Fabbri sparked the Wings after he was acquired in a trade earlier this season, but his production has slipped. He’s a restricted free agent and isn’t likely to be going anywhere. But if a team were to be interested, no doubt something could be worked out.
► Luke Glendening: Glendening is a unrestricted free agent in 2021, and there’s been plenty of discussion of contenders, namely Toronto, being interested in him during prior years. But the defensive forward has been one of the better Wings this season, and taken a more active leadership role. You don’t get the impression the Wings are that interested in dealing Glendening.
► Mike Green: Another potential unrestricted free agent, Green is the veteran defenseman who teams could have the most interest in — if Green is healthy. Like Daley, that’s been a struggle. Green was injured the week leading into the All-Star break, and is likely to miss several more games, at least, coming out of the break. If Green returns and shows he’s healthy, he could be a low-risk option for a conditional mid- to late-round draft pick. Green could be an effective power play/third pair defenseman for certain contenders.
► Darren Helm: With one more year left on his contract, it’s more likely there will be chatter about Helm at next season’s deadline. He’s played well this season, and could help certain contenders, but that one more year at $3.85 million might be enough of an irritant to keep teams away.
► Jimmy Howard: The veteran goaltender, also a potential unrestricted free agent, has had a dismal season (2-19-2, 4.12 goals-against average, .883 save percentage). He appeared to be coming out of the slump, somewhat, leading into the break. If Howard were to show some consistency these next few weeks, and an injury or two pops up around the league, there’s a chance a team could show interest in Howard. But it’s unlikely.