The Red Wings will begin a 24-game stretch on Wednesday as they look to make the playoffs for a 23rd consecutive season.
Right now, the Wings sit in fifth place in the Atlantic Division with 64 points. This is good for the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, but they are only one point ahead of the Senators, Blue Jackets, and Capitals. The Hurricanes and Devils sit three points back, making a grand total of five teams within striking distance.
If the Wings are going to make the playoffs, they will have their work cut out for them, as 21 of their 24 games are against teams in contention for a playoff spot. The good news is that there are no trips out west, as the only games west of the Mississippi River they will play are in St. Paul against the Wild and in St. Louis against the Blues.
Injuries will also be a factor. Henrik Zetterberg is out for the rest of the season after undergoing back surgery. Jakub Kindl is also dealing with a sprained MCL in his knee, and could miss some time. The club recalled Ryan Sproul from Grand Rapids, and he could make his NHL debut relatively soon.
Johan Franzen (concussion) will likely return Wednesday in Montreal. The same can be said for Stephen Weiss (hernia), as both skated today at practice.
A bigger question is with Zetterberg out, do the Wings make a deal at the trade deadline?
In a radio appearance on Detroit Sports 105.1, Ken Holland mentioned to Matt Dery that he has been talking to other general managers about trades, and will be on the phone a lot on March 5, which happens to be the NHL's trade deadline day.
Don't expect Holland to make a blockbuster deal, which means we can rule out a trade for Thomas Vanek or Ryan Miller. Here is a list of potential targets:
- Matt Moulson, Sabres (Pricy, but Wings are rumored to be kicking the tires on a potential deal. Could benefit from playing next to Pavel Datsyuk).
- Chris Stewart, Blues (Straight-up player swap likely needed to get him).
- Mike Cammalleri, Flames (Flames may be having a fire sale [pun not intended]. He can score in the playoffs).
- David Legwand, Predators (Best center available. Good insurance if Weiss or Darren Helm can't stay healthy).
- Steve Ott, Sabres (Sabres are another fire sale team. Ott brings grit and scoring).
- Lee Stempniak, Flames (Potential low-buy for a middle six forward).
- Olli Jokinen, Jets (Another potential option to cover for Zetterberg at center).
- Brad Boyes, Panthers (Wings could also use some shootout help).
- Dan Girardi, Rangers (Shutdown player could be a better fit to play next to Niklas Kronwall, and he shoots right handed).
- Alexander Edler, Canucks (On the block last season, but was re-signed. Wings have been a rumored destination).
- Dustin Byfuglien, Jets (Would bring offense to the blue line. Can also play forward).
- Marek Zidlicky, Devils (Strong showing at the Olympics has increased stock. Another righty).
Unless the Wings are willing to part with Jonas Gustavsson, who is a pending UFA, don't expect them to deal for a backup goalie.
Who could get dealt:
- Kyle Quincey (Has floundered at times, but could be because of the system he is in).
- Johan Franzen (Seems like the Wings are married to him. He could benefit from a change of scenery).
- Jonas Gustavsson (Posting career-best numbers. Will be due a hefty raise, and Holland might be better off trading him rather than letting him walk for nothing).
If there's one thing for certain, the next eight weeks could be a wild ride.
- Detroit Red Wings Trade Chatter: Dustin Byfuglien a Potential Target
- Detroit Red Wings Trade Chatter: Steve Ott is a Possible Rental Player
- Editorial: Will the Real Detroit Red Wings Please Stand Up?
- Detroit Red Wings Vs. Calgary Flames: Game Preview
- Three Questions: Jordin Tootoo Fallout and Returning Home
Short URL: http://sport-ne.ws/18mf