Detroit Red Wings believe 'we're vulnerable' as NHL trade deadline approaches - Detroit Free Press


Helene St. James Detroit Free Press

Published 2:40 PM EST Feb 11, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Mike Green tries not to wonder if his Detroit Red Wings career is coming to an end, while Gustav Lindstrom is focused on igniting his.

The NHL trade deadline is less than two weeks away, and the Wings will be sellers as they stare at a fourth straight draft lottery. Green, 34, is among a handful of veterans on the team who could have a new home by Feb. 24, even as he’s enduring a second straight subpar season.

He is in his fifth season with the Wings. He has been a trade chip before, and knows how to handle this time of year.

“You realize the business part of it,” he said after Tuesday’s morning skate at KeyBank Center. “It’s speculation until something happens. The situation we’re in, we’re more vulnerable here. But the commitment to the day-to-day process within this dressing room doesn’t change.”

Green, fellow defenseman Trevor Daley, and goaltender Jimmy Howard are in the last year of their contracts. Green and Daley have struggled to stay healthy the past two seasons, but Daley is a mobile puck mover and Green has put up good numbers when he has played on good teams.

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The Wings have been active at the deadline in recent years, including trading away Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Nick Jensen and Petr Mrazek.

“What we know, both as a team and as individuals, is the better you play, the better it is for everybody, regardless of what happens,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We just have to focus on what we can control and that’s our game.”

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The Wings’ defense will look different next season regardless. Moritz Seider is expected to push for a job. Lindstrom, 21, is among the prospects currently auditioning for one; he made his NHL debut Feb. 6 when the Wings were in Buffalo. That was a day of nerves for him — he joked that his heart rate spiked to 180 — but he has played a calm game.

“If I can play a couple more games, I will get more comfortable and get used to it a little bit more,” he said. “I think I’ve played well and I hope it’s going to be better and better every game.”

The Wings aren’t expected to let Lindstrom exceed nine games, because that would trigger his entry-level contract and put him a year closer to free agency. There’s no point in doing that, given it is only a matter of weeks before the Wings are mathematically eliminated from the 2020 playoffs. Though the exposure is brief, Lindstrom is earning positive reviews for playing a smart and steady game. 

“Steady is a good word,” Blashill said. “I just think not enough D in this league are steady, but you win with steady. This almost dumbs it down, but we had the most efficient defenseman of all time here in Nick Lidstrom. I’m not trying to compare them by any stretch of the imagination, but my point is, efficiency matters with defensemen. Guys who can make a pass to forwards to get the offense going, guys who can create offense with their passing and shooting without taking a high bunch of risk, guys who can defend because they’re smart — those guys are paramount in this league. 

“To what level that he can do all those things, I don’t know yet. He’ll get a chance to prove it over time. He needs to get stronger, he probably needs to get a little quicker, all those things. But he has attributes that certainly I like in defensemen that I think are real important for a defenseman.”

Contact Helene St. James at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter.

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