RW Rick Nash
D Brian Campbell
RW Nathan Horton
RW Tomas Jurco
LW Anthony Mantha
RW Justin Abdelkader
At first glance you make think “Oh dear, the Wings just got a whole lot older,” but if you really take the time to look at each trade you will find that not only did the Red Wings get younger, they got a lot better too.
After it was announced that GM Ken Holland would be retiring to travel with his family, owner Mike Illitch was lost. Only a week away from the 2016 NHL Draft, and with the team at a proverbial crossroads, Illitch had to find a man to take the helm, and fast. Illitch found that man in Jack Kozicz.
In a short press conference, Kozicz thanked Illitch for the position, wished Holland a happy vacation, and promised the Hockeytown fan base that he wouldn’t shake things up too much in his first year as head man.
Two for three isn’t bad. After only being on the job for a couple days Kozicz traded away the 25th pick in the draft, top prospect Anthony Mantha, and two other youngsters to the New York Rangers for goal-scorer Rick Nash.
“Nash gives us that bona fide scoring threat that Detroit hasn’t had since Yzerman retired,” Kozicz said about the trade. “Datsyuk and Zetterberg are getting older and are more set-up men to begin with. Nash can help us out in many ways.”
Tomas Tatar did just come off of a 36 goal season, and Zetterberg had 30, but other than that no one could even crack 20 goals. Nash will anchor the veteran first line and Tatar will lead a group of capable youngsters on the second.
Acquiring defenseman Brian Campbell also came as a bit of a surprise, maybe a little less surprising than the Nash deal, but still a huge trade.
“This could be the most important move we make,” Kozicz noted. “Green is a great D-man, but Campbell has more experience and will be a huge presence in our locker-room.”
Brian Campbell and two second round picks made their way to Detroit for Mike Green and a second. Green is coming off of his best season, but has a longer contract for more money. Campbell only has one year left on his contract, and may retire, and had an exceptional season last year.
For everyone involved it is a win-win. Detroit gets better and more experienced for their playoff push, Florida gets a defenseman in his prime to lead their young core, Campbell gets a shot at hoisting the cup, and Green could be the captain in Miami.
The last trade to highlight is another big one. Sending Jimmy Howard to Toronto makes a lot of sense. He is a back-up goalie in his 30’s making five million a year… But still Howard is an exceptional net-minder who will start in Toronto and could start almost anywhere else. This is clearly Kozicz’s way of handing over the keys to Petr Mrazek.
In return, the Leafs shipped Nathan Horton, Nick Jensen, Freddy Gauthier, and the rights to Dominic Toninato to Detroit. Horton can provide a veteran presence in the third and fourth lines, while Jensen and Gauthier will look to prove themselves in Grand Rapids or the top squad.
Time will tell if these moves actually pay off. Could we see the Wings miss the playoffs for the first time in over a quarter of a century? Or will the Wings make it back to the Cup? Either way it will definitely be an interesting season.