Detroit Red Wings

NHL Trade Deadline: Reassessing Detroit Red Wings' Season Outlook Post-Deadline

COLUMBUS, OH - JUNE 23:  Assistant General Manager Jim Nill and General Manager Ken Holland attend the 2007 NHL Entry Draft at Nationwide Arena on June 23, 2007 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Isaac SmithAnalyst IApril 4, 2013

For Ken Holland and the Detroit Red Wings, the NHL trade deadline is a day of the year just like any of the other 364 days of the year. When it comes and goes, not much seems to change, one way or another.

But what is the outlook of the team post-trade deadline in terms of the remainder of their season?

Let's take a look at the offense, defense and goaltending areas.

 

Offense

Offensively speaking, the Red Wings might be the least consistent team in the NHL.

Whether they put up eight goals on Vancouver and five goals on Anaheim, or simply fall flat on their collective faces in a shutout to Columbus, the Red Wings' offensive inconsistencies seem to be a common denominator.

The Red Wings have some real problems up front, as the leaders in goals are Damien Brunner and Pavel Datsyuk, each with 11 goals.

Brunner had gone 15 games without a goal before scoring against Colorado. Pavel Datsyuk had his own personal problems with scoring, going almost 12 games without a goal earlier this season.

Detroit's offense is anemic at best, as captain Henrik Zetterberg cannot seem to find the back of the net on a regular basis with only eight goals on the season.

This lack of scoring by Datsyuk, Brunner, Zetterberg, Johan Franzen (seven goals), Valtteri Filppula (six goals) and Daniel Cleary (eight goals) means that Detroit must find a way to break out of the shell offensively. Detroit is averaging just 2.56 goals per game through 36 contests, which will not get it done most nights unless their defense and goaltending is solid as well.

What can make it better?

Take Datsyuk off of the same line as Justin Abdelkader. Though there may be some key injuries to Todd Bertuzzi and Darren Helm, putting Abdelkader on a line with Datsyuk is unacceptable at best as it limits the well-documented offensive potential of Datsyuk.

If Datsyuk were playing on a line with more skilled players, the Red Wings could be playing to their strengths with Abdelkader also put on a line with players like Drew Miller and Jordin Tootoo.

The Red Wings are 19th in the NHL in goals for, so that means that they have their work cut out for them over the last 12 games of the season.

While not making a move for a goal scorer or top-six forward up front didn't do anything to help them, the Red Wings have players coming back (eventually) that can help.

With the return of players like Bertuzzi and Darren Helm on the horizon, the Red Wings have their own "trade deadline" presents coming back sooner or later. The key for the Wings is holding down a playoff spot in the meantime.

 

Defense

This year's Red Wings are an adventure to watch, defensively speaking. That is putting it nicely. Though their team goals-against per game hasn't been terrible (2.56 goals-against per game or 12th in the NHL), there have definitely been some egregious letdowns in front of the goaltenders.

Most of these breakdowns have been in the form of failed breakout passes from behind the net.

Unfortunately, the Red Wings' defensive problems don't stop there. With the defense being a patchwork job to start the season, Detroit needed to play well defensively (as well as get some help from their forwards in a team defensive game this season). That just hasn't happened.

Injuries at the start of the season to some key cogs on the blue line broke up the defense and forced Ken Holland's hand in acquiring, signing and calling up some more defensemen.

The Red Wings now have nine NHL defensemen (per CapGeek.com) after shipping out Kent Huskins to the Philadelphia Flyers (per NHL.com).

Although the defense isn't bad, it definitely could have used a high-power, offensive upgrade in the form of a Keith Yandle or another puck-moving kind of defenseman.

No such trade materialized, and the Red Wings will be hoping that what they have is enough moving forward.

Detroit did sign highly-coveted defenseman Danny DeKeyser last week, but it still remains to be seen if DeKeyser can play at an NHL level this season. If he can do that, DeKeyser will complicate the already log-jammed blue line corps.

 

Goaltending

The Red Wings have leaned heavily on goaltender Jimmy Howard this season. Howard has been both great and terrible at different times of the year.

With a 15-10-4 record, a 91.5 save percentage and a 2.45 GAA, Howard's numbers might not seem like much. But rest assured, he is the main reason that the Red Wings are still in the playoff picture.

Howard has also been better of late, with a 9-4-2 record in his last 15 games. Over those 15 games, Howard has given up just 27 goals (1.80 GAA over that span). If he continues this play over the next 12 games, one might be able to tentatively pencil Detroit in to a playoff spot this year.

Will the goaltending (instead of the offense and defense) finally be the reason that the Red Wings make the playoffs?

At this point, one would have to think that's a major possibility.

 

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