Uneasiness envelops Red Wings entering Monday's trade deadline
Detroit — For a winning hockey team, one that is on the verge of the playoffs or fighting for a postseason spot, Monday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline can be one of the best times of the season.
But, if you’re the Red Wings, this is yet another downer in a season full of them.
The Red Wings aren’t going to be buyers, they aren’t adding players. But general manager Steve Yzerman is going to try hard to unload veterans on expiring contracts, almost anyone really, in an effort to accumulate draft picks.
For players, it’s not easy hearing about all the rumors on social media.
It’s even worse seeing teammates you’ve been around with for years possibly getting traded out of town.
“When you’re a good team, you’re a playoff team, this is a really fun week because you’re hoping they (the front office) are going to go out and get you (the team) something that can make the team better,” forward Frans Nielsen said. “But now, in this position, it’s the complete opposite.
“We’re probably going to lose some very good friends that you have played with for a long time. So this is a terrible time when you’re in this position.”
It’ll be interesting to see what Yzerman will be able to do, given the apparent lack of interest in many of the Wings’ assets.
Defensemen Mike Green, Trevor Daley and Jonathan Ericsson are all on expiring contracts, will be unrestricted free agents on July 1, and the Wings aren’t re-signing any of them.
Goaltender Jimmy Howard is in the same boat.
Of the four players, only Green might attract marginal interest from teams who are looking for an offensive defenseman who has playoff experience.
But Green, 34, is going through one of the worst seasons of his career. He only has 11 points (3 goals) in 48 games — injuries have plagued Green the last two seasons — and has a career-worst minus-32 plus-minus rating.
But playoff contenders such as Edmonton (with former Wings GM Ken Holland, who signed Green for the Wings), the New York Islanders, Washington (where Green played most of his career) and Colorado need depth after injuries, which could make Green somewhat valuable.
Daley would be an intriguing asset for a contender if not for a string of injuries that has kept him out of the lineup — and led to ineffectiveness when he has been able to play.
Howard and Ericsson are both going through disastrous seasons, Ericsson largely due to injuries, and aren’t going to be in demand.
One of the Wings who could generate interest is forward Andreas Athanasiou.
A potential restricted free agent in July, Athanasiou would be under a team’s control for multiple years and despite a poor offensive season (10 goals), five of those goals have come in the last seven games, which could mean the streaky Athanasiou could be headed in the right direction.
But the Wings might be willing to wait until after the season, and deal Athanasiou closer to the Entry Draft, if he continues to build his value.
Coach Jeff Blashill, like the rest of the hockey world, was captivated by the story of Carolina emergency backup goalie David Ayres.
With both Hurricanes goalies injured during Saturday’s game in Toronto, Ayres, 42, was pressed into service and delivered a victory for Carolina.
Ayres drives the Zamboni for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies and never played in the NHL.
“It’s awesome,” Blashill said. “I actually heard Rod (Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour’s) speech, when talked about memories and that the team and David had created one for him. That’s pretty cool, too.
“What a great moment. I watched the interview with his wife after, it was awesome. It’s an incredible, incredible, thing.
“I wasn’t watching the game but I was getting tons of texts from our coaching staff who were watching saying it was must-see TV. What a neat night for them.”
There was criticism from some analysts about possibly ensuring a team has a more experienced emergency goalie available.
But Blashill isn’t sure what could be done in that future regarding that situation.
“There’s no easy answer to it,” Blashill said. “These are guys (emergency backups) coming to every game – and people have jobs, too. It’s a commitment that way for sure.
“I just know in our case, Josh Block (the emergy backup), he’s around us a lot. We’ve asked a lot of him and he’s prepared to go.”
Filip Hronek (head) is feeling better, said Blashill, and “sometime in this coming week we expect him to play.”
…Forward Robby Fabbri, who didn’t practice Saturday, was available Sunday to face Calgary.