For the past several years, the Red Wings were considered a serious contender to win the Stanley Cup, which put them in a position to be buyers at the deadline. However, this season the Red Wings need to proceed with caution.
The Red Wings are in the mix for a playoff spot in the Western Conference but unlike previous years, the expectations aren't as high. Even if the Red Wings make the playoffs, it will be hard to call themselves a strong contender for the Stanley Cup.
While fans might point to the No. 8 seed Los Angeles Kings in last year's playoffs as an example how anything might happen, which is correct, the Chicago Blackhawks look like a team that will be tough to beat in a seven-game series.
This is the year the Red Wings need to save their prospects and draft picks at the trade deadline, so they can start planning for the future. It appears that the team still has a solid core, but it needs a pipeline of young players that can carry it for the next 10-12 years.
The Red Wings are known for attempting to upgrade their team and more often than not, it works out in their favor. Last season was one of the more controversial trades. The Red Wings traded for defenseman Kyle Quincey in a three-team deal by giving up a first-round draft pick.
While many fans aren't happy with the trade, it was the right move at the time. The Red Wings knew that Brad Stuart was most likely headed back to the west coast this season as a free agent and that Nicklas Lidstrom was thinking about retiring. With that information in hand, the Red Wings proactively wanted to provide protection by acquiring Quincey.
While Quincey has been criticized for only having one point so far this season, he is still averaging 18:36 minutes a game and has a plus-11 rating, which is a team high.
Quincey isn't flashy and won't produce a ton of points, but he has been solid this season and helps to solidify a better-than-expected defense.
The problem with making trades at the deadline is that usually the trading price is higher. This is due to the fact that a contending team acquiring that player has one goal in mind: to win a Stanley Cup.
That is exactly why the Red Wings need to stay patient and not sacrifice their long-term future this season, only to advance one or two rounds.
Ansar Khan from MLive.com wrote that the Red Wings might find it hard to complete a trade at the deadline:
If the Red Wings make a move, it'll likely be for a top-four defenseman or a top-six forward.
Those players will be difficult to land because there will be many more buyers than sellers at the deadline, since only a handful of teams are expected to be out of the playoff chase. And with few higher-end players in the market, the price won't be cheap.
Sellers always seek top prospects and high draft picks. The Red Wings must decide whether the player is worth relinquishing these assets.
With the shortened season due to the lockout, several teams are still in contention for the playoffs and are only separated by a few points.
Another factor to consider is that due to the fewer home games, and therefore reduced revenue collected post-lockout, owners will be pushing harder for their teams to make a playoff push so they can get more home games. This could make the asking prices even higher for the teams that are buying.
Regardless, the Red Wings have been extremely smart over the past two decades and they should remain ahead of the curve by sitting this trade deadline out.
*All statistics are as of March 6
**All statistics are from hockey-reference.com