One of Craig MacTavish’s more interesting lines at his end of season press conference related to the opportunities to acquire players that come along at the end of the first round of the playoffs. Could the Detroit Red Wings be a fit in that regard?
“When you finish out of the playoffs you know one thing for sure,” the Oilers general manager said at the time. “In ten days there are going to be eight more pissed off teams. That’s going to lead to opportunity; maybe we have a fit with a more experienced team to add some experience and add that piece and those are the things I’m going to be looking to do.”
For the Red Wings, it’s clear that there’s at least some of that anger.
Babcock: We weren’t a tough out at all.
— Fluto Shinzawa (@GlobeFluto) April 26, 2014
Mike Babcock also made it clear that there need to be changes:
I think the last two years we battled to get in the playoffs. To me that’s the measure of where we are. We’re a team that used to battle to win the Cup. Now, we’re battling to get in the playoffs. But what we have done if you look at our lineup, it’s a ton of kids… That’s kind of where we are. We’d like not to shut her down for 10 years and miss the playoffs for 10 years and get a whole bunch of first to fifth overall picks and do it that way. We’d like to do it on the fly.
Joakim Andersson. The 25-year-old Swede is probably going to be a victim of a number of graduating Red Wings prospects who will need to clear waivers to be demoted next season. He averaged a hair under 11:00 per game at evens this year, and logged heavy minutes on the penalty kill. He also won 51.4 percent of his faceoffs and while he’s not huge (6’2”, 206 pounds) he has decent size. His underlying numbers are quite good for a fourth line forward and with 17 points in 65 games he’s clear of all of the Oilers’ current fourth-liners offensively.
Todd Bertuzzi. Just kidding.
Mitch Callahan. Callahan’s going to be in tough to crack the Red Wings, but he probably won’t clear waivers either coming off a 26-goal, 44-point season in Grand Rapids. He’s a physical, agitating right wing though he’s somewhat undersized (6’, 190 pounds) for the style that he plays. He’s likely ready to play fourth line minutes in the NHL.
Jakub Kindl. Kindl seems the logical departure from the Red Wings blue line, in that at his current age he basically is what he is: a middle of the road No. 5/6 left side defenceman.
Kyle Quincey. Quincey had a fairly decent season as the No. 4 man on the Detroit depth chart. He’s reasonably physical, brings decent size (6’2”, 207 pounds) to the mix and has some two-way ability, though he isn’t likely to match the 38 points he put up for Los Angeles five seasons ago.
Brendan Smith. Smith is less likely than Kindl to be on the trading block, but he’s a far more interesting player. The 25-year-old is a two-way defender who does everything well but (at this point at least) nothing great. He’s only 119 games into his NHL career and there very well might be something there.
Jordin Tootoo. The undersized but solidly built (5’9”, 199 pounds) sparkplug got buried by the Wings in the minors this season as a sort of Detroit equivalent of Ben Eager. He’s a probable buyout candidate and would probably come dirt cheap in free agency.
Stephen Weiss. What a gamble this would be. Weiss is signed long-term to a big-money deal, and he has all of eight points in his last two injury-plagued NHL seasons, during which time he’s played only 43 games. In the past he’s been a two-way 60-point centre with the Panthers, but he might never get back to that level.
For the Oilers
Weiss is a bad gamble, Tootoo’s 31 and was a fringe major league player for a long time before the Red Wings gave up on him, and Kindl brings size (6’3”, 216 pounds) but isn’t a good enough NHL player to make a big difference on the Edmonton blue line. So why are we talking about Detroit? Two reasons.
The first is the possibility of adding a defenceman. I don’t really think Smith gets moved unless Detroit can add some experience and a right-handed shot to the mix (Michigan native Jeff Petry might fit the bill, but that seems like a lateral move). Quincey’s interesting, though – MacTavish said he wasn’t going to add middle of the road defenders but Quincey would stabilize the back end, push down Klefbom for maybe half a season and give the Oilers the option to move one of their veteran left shot defenders (Andrew Ference, perhaps) at next season’s deadline.
The other reason is because the Oilers have some decisions to make with their depth forwards. Anton Lander and Tyler Pitlick will both need to clear waivers next season, which they might not do, and so Edmonton has the choice of employing them at the NHL level or finding someone else to fill those roles.
Andersson is a little older, but he’s also bigger than Lander, he’s proven more at the NHL level, and he might be a nice fallback option if Edmonton can’t bring in a legitimate No. 3 centre to displace Boyd Gordon. Callahan, meanwhile, is a somewhat smaller, grittier version of Pitlick who doesn’t appear to have cursed legs.
In other words, if Edmonton doesn’t feel comfortable with their current bottom-six options, Detroit’s the kind of team that could help – they have plenty of forwards (and have for a while now) and the depth guys probably wouldn’t be too expensive to acquire.
In MacTavish’s shoes I’d be looking hard at Quincey. He’s the kind of guy who might be affordable and could well be overlooked in the opening days of free agency, but he’d probably be the best left-shooting defenceman in Edmonton immediately.