Deadline Decisions: Forwards
The Red Wings have achieved one of their two deadline goals with the acquisition of Kyle Quincey from Tampa Bay. Quincey gives the Red Wings 8 NHL-ready defensemen, a second point man for the 2nd power play unit and some more abrasiveness on the back end.
The Wings still seek some additional depth up front. At different times, the Red Wings' desires have been stated to be a scoring winger to flesh out the top-six or a gritty, defensive forward to provide a physical presence on the 3rd or 4th line. The Wings' performance in their two games since losing Pavel Datsyuk to injury cannot be encouraging. Detroit has looked disengaged at times and has trouble maintaining offensive pressure, and an already middling power play looks even more toothless. Ken Holland may be wondering if the Wings can make a long playoff run if one of their top-six forwards does go down to injury like last postseason.
I list below options that could fit either the scoring or gritty winger option. I left off forwards such as Teemu Selanne, Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney who are on bubble teams that are unlikely to be sellers on Monday.
Boyes could be the quintessential Detroit pickup. He should be in the prime of his career but his productivity has plummetted since a 43 goal campaign in the 2007-08 season. He hasn't broke 20 goals since and is only on pace for 4-5 goals this season. The Red Wings thrive on getting players who are on the scrap heap and helping them revitalize their careers (Cleary, Miller, Eaves). Boyes could possibly flourish in the Wings' system and could fit in on the 2nd-4th lines. He has a cap hit of $4 million, but is a UFA this season. He could use a change of scenery and would come cheap given his dropoff in production. If he turned it around in Detroit he would be auditioning either for an offer from Detroit or potential suitors this summer.
Gaustad's name has been more prevalent than Boyes' in rumors, including those involving Detroit. He is a physical, big (6-5, 212 lbs) center that can kill penalties and is superb in the faceoff dot (56.0%) The only Red Wing with a better faceoff percentage is Pavel Datsyuk (56.1%). Gaustad could serve as fourth line center, replacing Cory Emmerton who has come on of late but been inconsistent overall this season. As demonstrated in last night's game against Vancouver, faceoffs can be crucial and the Wings would benefit from another dominant faceoff man like they had with Kris Draper. Gaustad has a cap hit of $2.3 million but also will be a UFA this season. He seems to be popular in the rumor mill which may raise his price, but it still shouldn't be anything obscene.
Although Tuomo Ruutu, who was tied to the Wings in many early rumors, is off the market; Brent is another Hurricane forward that could draw interest from Detroit. My friend Kirk brought him to my attention as potential bottom-six acquisition. He has a tenacious two-way work ethic and is a right handed shot, a quality constantly in demand in Detroit amongst all of the southpaw shooters. He won't put up stunning numbers but can chip in once in awhile. He's still young at 27 and could be the most inexpensive option for forward depth on this list. He's signed for one more season and his cap hit is a paltry $750,000.
Brian Burke loves to deal and this deadline seems to be no different. Although the Maple Leafs' most pressing need is in net, they are also seeking a scoring winger and have been linked to Rick Nash. If they are serious about trading for Nash, they may be looking to provide space. Macarthur has shown up in rumors sparingly but could be a good fit for scoring depth. He isn't on pace to match his career high 62-point season from last year, but is a balanced scorer with a nose for the net. He has decent size but isn't overly physical. He has one year left on his contract at a cap hit of 3.25 million. Depending on production he could be part of a summer trade if he didn't pan out.
Grabovski is a similar case to Macarthur however his name has been popping up in rumors more frequently especially over the past week. Grabovski has put up solid numbers during most of his time in Toronto but has struggled with consistency at times. He is a shade smaller than Macarthur (5-11, 183 lbs) but could provide the same offensive depth to the 2nd/3rd lines. He will be a UFA after this season and a great performance in the home stretch and playoffs would do wonders for his wallet once July 1 hits. He has a cap hit of $2.9 million.
I'm not sure how willing the Avalanche will be to deal after the three-way deal Steve Yzerman spun to ship Steve Downie out of Tampa Bay, gain a first round pick and allow Detroit to acquire Kyle Quincey. If they are willing to deal, Winnik would be an option for depth on the fourth line. He has some size at 6-2, 210 lbs and is willing to throw the body around once in awhile. He could provide penalty killing help but won't be much help on offense. Winnik is only 26 and will be a RFA this summer. He only has a cap hit of $950,000 which would still give Detroit room for a bigger move if they chose to.
Pahlsson is a veteran center that could bring a great defensive mindset to the bottom two lines. He's extremely limited on offense but has history with Mike Babcock during their shared time in Anaheim. He's solid in the faceoff dot (51.6%) and has been linked to Detroit in trade rumors in past years. For his limited offensive production, he has a relatively high salary, with a cap hit of $2.65 million but is a UFA after this season. He would be another option to compete with Cory Emmerton for the spot as 4th line center and could possibly see time on the penalty kill.
Word didn't get out that the Kings' captain was on the market until after Los Angeles completed their deal for Jeff Carter last evening. Brown is the marquee player on this list and will garner the largest price. Brown is a versatile and durable winger that can put up some points. He's averaged 67 points the past four seasons but is off his usual pace this year. He is only 27 and could become a tremendous asset for Detroit. He's a leader and is very physical although he isn't large by any means at 6-0, 204 lbs. Brown is under contract for two years at a great price of $3.175 million and could take the place of Hudler who will probably test the market this summer. Brown will not come cheap and Los Angeles is starved for offense, exhibited by their deal for Carter. They are the lowest scoring team in the league and are battling for a low playoff seed. Although I'm really fond of this possibility, it would probably require a top prospect in the package.
Other less attractive options include Steve Ott, Mike Knuble, Mikael Samuelsson, Andrei Kostitsyn and Ales Hemsky.