Trade deadline fixes: Central Division
Red Wings might top the standings, but they could use some help between the pipes
Hockey Prospectus is taking a look at the NHL division by division and suggesting ways each team should tackle the forthcoming trade deadline. On Monday, we looked at the Atlantic Division. On Tuesday, we addressed the Northeast Division, and on Wednesday we examined the Southeast. Today it's the Central Division.
Feb. 27 marks the NHL's trade deadline, and every team in the league -- both the playoff-bound and those likely for the draft lottery -- has needs to address. To prepare for the final flurry of transactions, we're going team by team to see which players could help fill some holes on contenders or provide some foundational stability for teams building for next season and beyond.
One statistic you'll come across in the analysis below is GVT, the main player valuation metric used by Hockey Prospectus. For a detailed explanation of GVT, click here.
The problem: "Problem" isn't a word we'd use to describe any aspect of the Detroit Red Wings, who have the most points in the NHL. Just like every season, they're a top-five team in practically any category. Jimmy Howard's recent injury may be minor, but it brings to light potentially the only improvement the team could make in anticipation of a long playoff run: goaltending depth. Unless the Wings want to rely on career AHLer Joey MacDonald or the league's worst backup two years running -- Ty Conklin -- our suggestion is the same as last year's -- to shore themselves up between the pipes.
The fix: Last year the Red Wings tried to bring Evgeni Nabokov over from the KHL, but he was swiped off waivers by the New York Islanders. While Islanders GM Garth Snow recently told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun that they had no intention of moving Nabokov, he later conceded that they'd consider all their options. If the Islanders prove reluctant to exchange the veteran goalie for one of Detroit's ample supply of prospects, the Wings could instead go after veteran Marty Turco, currently playing in Austria.
The problem: While Brendan Morrison might not solve their need for a top-six center, their hole on the blue line is far more significant. Corey Crawford and Ray Emery are struggling in goal, and rather than go after more goaltending, our recommendation is to get a defensive-minded veteran capable of playing tough minutes and killing penalties.
To see what Hockey Prospectus has identified as problems and solutions for the Blackhawks, Blues, Red Wings, Blue Jackets and Predators, you must be an ESPN Insider.