By Ryan Rabinowitz
The 2018 NHL trade deadline is officially in the books. Despite the lack of razzle-dazzle that we have seen at past deadlines, some big names were on the move this year such as former Rangers Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nash and Evander Kane who packed up in Buffalo and is headed to San Jose.
Here in the Motor City, fan favorites Petr Mrazek and Tomas Tatar bidded farewell. Mrazek was traded to Philadelphia on Feb. 19, bringing back a 2018 conditional fourth-round pick and 2019 conditional third-round pick.
Tatar was dealt to Las Vegas for a 2018 first, 2019 second, and 2021 third-round pick. These transactions have now given the Wings a league-leading eleven picks in the upcoming draft, with six of those picks being in the first through third rounds.
Defenseman Mike Green was also expected to pack his bags at the deadline with this being the last year of his contract. The veteran defenseman would have been a great addition to any team looking to make a playoff run, but Ken Holland was unable to find a willing trade partner.
Some could argue that Holland has been disappointing with his recent moves, or lack thereof, but these moves seem to make it clear that the Wings are looking to finally suck it up and rebuild.
With Tatar gone, the door is open for a young forward such as Evgeny Svechnikov or Michael Rasmussen to see NHL minutes as the Wings approach the end of the season, which looks like it will end short of a playoff appearance. Tatar was on pace to make $5.3 million per year through 2021, which now becomes more cash in the pocket for Detroit to perhaps go after a free agent in the offseason.
Petr Mrazek is in the last year of his current contract, and to think he would have signed back on with the Wings for the future is quite a stretch. Mrazek has made clear that he was bothered by having to share the net with Jimmy Howard. Plus, it could be almost said for certain Mrazek would have taken the opportunity to take over a net for himself elsewhere when given the chance.
This move allows the 6-foot-6 Jared Coreau to solidify the backup spot, which presumably will lead to him being the number one guy when Jimmy Howard’s time in Detroit is over.
It seems like after the past few dismal years of Red Wings hockey, the direction is finally clear. With an incredible return on the Tatar deal, and an extra two picks for Mrazek, the Wings have all of the tools to make a splash in the upcoming draft. With several young talents including Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha being restricted free agents after this year, a lot of big decisions need to be made regarding who will be wearing the winged wheel next season, including young Griffins that have been knocking on the door for some time.
With an expiring contract himself, it seems the consensus amongst fans is that this needs to be Holland’s last trade deadline in Detroit. Questions about head coach Jeff Blashill’s future also hang over everyone’s heads. All in all, despite it being hard to say goodbye to Mrazek and Tatar, these moves will prove to pay off in the long run.
This upcoming offseason will reveal a lot about the future of the Wings, but it seems like everyone is finally committed to a few more years of suffering to return to championship glory in the not-so-distant future.