Having made the playoffs for 22 consecutive seasons, Detroit has often been a club looking to add talent at the trade deadline.
Year 23 could be different, however.
“We have to play our way into being a buyer,” Wings GM Ken Holland said on Wednesday, per MLive.com. “There’s no use spending assets unless we play our way into a buyer position.”
Detroit heads into Thursday night’s action on the outside of the playoff picture, tied on points (57) with eighth-place Carolina but sitting in ninth thanks to fewer regulation victories. That, combined with the schedule — the Wings have just five games left until the Olympic break, then another three between the end of the break and the deadline — is making Holland’s assessment difficult.
Further complicating things? Detroit’s injury and cap issues. From MLive.com:
The Red Wings will be over the cap when all their injured players return (Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Stephen Weiss), if everyone else is healthy, even after sending some players back to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
So in order for the Red Wings to acquire a player, they need to shed at least an equal amount of salary.
Detroit has already tried to save space this year by jettisoning veterans like Jordin Tootoo, Patrick Eaves and Mikael Samuelsson to the AHL, so it’s possible the club could do it again. But even with that option available, Holland may end up standing pat.
“We like our kids,” Holland said. “I don’t know that there’s players available on the market that are better than the kids we got.”