Red Wings’ biggest trade deadline decisions: Extend Patrick Kane? Add a forward?

After escaping Seattle with a 4-3 overtime win Monday afternoon, the Detroit Red Wings return home this week having salvaged a 2-2 road trip out West, keeping their grip on the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

In a wild-card race that looks destined to go down to the wire, every game is massive right now for Detroit — and only getting bigger. With the NHL’s March 8 trade deadline looming, the outcome of each game gives Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman that much more information as to whether he’s managing another trade deadline seller, if he’ll stand pat, or if he could maybe even buy.

He still has two-and-a-half weeks to make that call, but as the deadline approaches, we broke down the biggest decisions Yzerman and his management team will have to weigh before the deadline.

1. What’s the ‘sell line?’

Really, this is the question that sets the agenda. While right now the Red Wings are in a playoff spot, their grip on the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot is still tenuous, and a lot can still change over the next two weeks.

On the morning of Feb. 24, 2023, for example, Detroit was three points back of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, with four games in hand. It was a great position. Three losses later, Detroit traded a young top-four defenseman in Filip Hronek, and a top-six winger in Tyler Bertuzzi, and that was that for the 2022-23 season.

We’ll never know for sure what Detroit’s “sell-line” was last season. With Bertuzzi a pending unrestricted free agent, they probably had to trade him no matter what happened at the end of February. But at least in the case of Hronek, you have to wonder if Yzerman still makes that deal in-season, rather than waiting for the summer, if the Red Wings were in a playoff spot.

Detroit doesn’t have any Bertuzzi-level decisions to make this year. But they do have some notable pending UFAs in David Perron, Daniel Sprong, Shayne Gostisbehere and even Patrick Kane. So, understanding this year’s East race is shaping up to be ferocious — with the Lightning, Red Wings, Flyers, Devils, Islanders, Capitals and Penguins all still in play for three spots — how close to the cut line do the Red Wings need to be to hold onto those players? Do they need to be in a playoff spot? Two points out? Within four?

Maybe the line is different for different players. Perron, in particular, is a key emotional leader in the Red Wings locker room, and moving him would be a dagger to the group. That’s not something to do lightly. But with any of the four, tough decisions could be ahead if things go south.

Finding that line is easier said than done, considering how streaky these Red Wings have been. They’ve shown they can get very hot, and very cold. But it’s arguably the most important decision ahead of them because it’s the one from which nearly every subsequent choice will stem.

2. Should they add a depth forward?

Let’s say the Red Wings get hot over the…

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Read More: Red Wings’ biggest trade deadline decisions: Extend Patrick Kane? Add a forward? 2024-02-20 20:48:23

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