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Meet the Buyers: The Detroit Red Wings need a defenceman “with bite”

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Photo credit:© Rick Osentoski - USA Today
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
The team we’ll look at today had one of the longest post-season appearance streaks in history, but hasn’t made the playoffs since 2015-16.
In this edition, we’ll look at the Detroit Red Wings, along with their needs, their assets, and the cap situation of both them and the Calgary Flames.

The needs of the Detroit Red Wings

Back on Jan. 12, Frank Seravalli wrote an article for Daily Faceoff highlighting each Eastern Conference team’s needs at the deadline. The day that was released, the Red Wings were two points out of a playoff spot and were part of a log jam of five or so teams. At the time, Seravalli believed the Wings would be passive buyers.
Fast forward a month and a half, and their 70 points have them in the first Wild Card spot with an eight-point gap over the New Jersey Devils, who sit on the outside looking in. It’s an impressive turnaround for a team that looked to be making positive strides during the 2022-23 season, but ultimately fell out of the race in late-February and ended up picking ninth-overall in the 2023 draft.
That begs the question, what is their biggest need? Well, the Red Wings defence is a mess, to say the least. Their left-side is pretty set in stone, as they have Jake Walman, Ben Chiarot, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Olli Määttä. The Wings’ right-side is not as good, featuring Moritz Seider, Jeff Petry, and Justin Holl. Their current lines can be found at Daily Faceoff’s daily line combinations.
According to Jeff Marek in the latest Rink Fries, the Red Wings are targeting a defender “with bite”. Perhaps the Flames have a right-shot defenceman who’d fit nicely on the Wings second-pair who has “some bite”, perhaps the Wings will be interested in Chris Tanev.
Jeff Petry isn’t the double-digit goal, 40-point getter he used to be, as he has just two goals and 17 points in 49 games this season. Against elite competition, he’s played 291.2 minutes, or 37.1% of his ice time, with the Wings outscoring teams 10-7 for a 58.8% goal share, according to Woodmoney. This isn’t to say that Petry is a bad defenceman, but he may be a better option on the third pairing.
Enter Chris Tanev, who puts up fewer points, just a goal and 12 points, but is arguably one of the best defensive defencemen in the game. Tanev has played 385.5 minutes against elite competition, or 42.8% of his ice time. On top of that, he has a 69.2 goal share, with the Flames out-scoring opposition’s elite  players 18-8, according to Woodmoney.
Alternatively, the Red Wings have the assets to pull off a sign-and-trade centred around Noah Hanifin (more on that later). Both he and Chiarot have experience playing on the right-side despite being left-shot defenceman, and Hanifin is the better Flames defender. Of course, the Wings would need to pay a premium, especially with an extension.

What assets do the Detroit Red Wings have to offer

The Red Wings are the rare playoff team with a top five farm system. According to The Hockey Writers mid-season farm system rankings, the Red Wings have the fourth-best farm system in the league. It features left-shot defenceman Simon Edvinsson, centre Marco Kasper, centre Nate Danielson, right-shot defenceman Axel Sandin Pellikka, and netminder Sebastian Cossa. Another highly rated prospect that isn’t mentioned is netminder Trey Augustine.
Edvinsson is their left-shot defenceman of the future and was selected with the sixth-overall pick in the 2021 draft. This season in the American Hockey League, the 21-year-old has seven goals and 26 points, second on the team in scoring. He has 11 games of National Hockey League experience, scoring two goals and an assist. Edvinsson is one of their most NHL-ready prospects.
Kasper was the Red Wings’ first-round selection in the 2022 draft and had a slow start in the AHL this season adjusting to North American ice and dealing with a knee injury. However, Kasper now has eight goals and 23 points in 48 games and is a feisty centre, picking up 72 penalty minutes in 52 games playing in the Swedish Hockey League in 2022-23.
Danielson was selected with the ninth-overall pick in the 2023 draft and has played for the Brandon Wheat Kings and Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League. This season, he has 18 goals and 49 points in 43 games. The 19-year-old also played for Team Canada during the 2024 World Juniors, scoring a goal and picking up three assists in five games.
Sandin-Pellikka is arguably the Red Wings best prospect, as the right-shot defenceman has 10 goals and 16 points as an 18-year-old in the SHL. In fact, his 10 goals is the second-most all time for a u18 player in the SHL, one behind Tomas Jonsson’s record he set in 1960. Sandin-Pellikka won the silver medal with Sweden during the 2024 World Juniors, scoring two goals and six points in seven games.
Cossa was selected with the 15th-overall pick in 2021, and has put together a nice season in the AHL posting a .911 save percentage and a 2.61 goals-against average in 24 games played. From the Western Hockey League, to the ECHL, to the American Hockey League, Cossa has posted a save percentage above .910 except for a brief run in the AHL last season.
Augustine was selected in the second-round of the 2023 draft and has had a great start to his collegiate career. With Michigan State University, Augustine has a .915 save percentage and a 2.95 goals-against average in 29 games played. Moreover, the 19-year-old netminder was the starting goalie for the United States in the 2024 World Juniors, posting a .936 save percentage and a 1.75 goals-against average en route to a gold medal.
Although not a prospect, another trade candidate is Jonatan Berggren. The 23-year-old winger has 17 goals and 41 points in 39 American Hockey League games. Moreover, he has played in 76 NHL games and has 17 goals and 33 points and probably should be playing with the Wings this season.
According to Puckpedia, the Wings will either have theirs or the Boston Bruins’ first-round pick, depending on which pick is higher. The only other pick that has been traded is their fourth-rounder, but they have Dallas’ 2024 fourth-round pick. For the 2025, 2026, and 2027 drafts, the Red Wings have all their picks remaining.

The cap situation of both teams

On top of one of the best farm systems in the league, the Wings have plenty of cap space. According to Puckpedia, the Wings currently have $9,885,452 in cap space, and $2,780,283 in projected cap space by the end of the season. They have no cap on the long-term injured reserve.
It should be fairly easy for the Red Wings to absorb Tanev’s $4.5 million cap hit, or Noah Hanifin’s $4.95 million cap hit, but just in case, the Flames have all three of their retention spots remaining.

In conclusion

Out of any potential trade partners we’ve looked at in this series, the Red Wings have the best farm system without the need to send money back. The big question is, do they think they can contend for a deep postseason run? If they do, trading for a Flames defenceman makes sense as they have the assets to outbid everyone and have a need on the right-side of their defence.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
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