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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Mailbag: Red Wings approach, Rangers needs before trade deadline


What do the Detroit Red Wings do at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline? Do you see them as suitor for John Klingberg? — @punmasterrifkin

I can’t see the Red Wings in the market for Klingberg before the deadline (March 21). The 29-year-old Dallas Stars defenseman is in the final season of a seven-year contract and a pending unrestricted free agent (UFA). The Red Wings are not ready to make the move that would be required to get Klingberg, who may not be available because the Stars are in the Stanley Cup Playoff race. Either way, Detroit is not ready to mortgage some of its future to make a push this season. I think the Red Wings will either stand pat by the deadline or move out some pending UFAs (defensemen Nick Leddy, Danny DeKeyser, Marc Staal and Troy Stecher, and forwards Vladislav Namestnikov and Sam Gagner). I’d be surprised if general manager Steve Yzerman and the front office went into the market to add players unless they come to Detroit with term remaining on their contract and fit into the Red Wings age bracket, which leans younger. It also wouldn’t be shocking if they trade one of their younger players, like they did with forward Anthony Mantha last season to the Washington Capitals, if they get the right offer. 

I can see the Red Wings targeting Klingberg in the offseason. I understand that might come with some hesitation from people who can’t get past his age and that he’s going want to cash in with a big contract that will take him well into his 30s. He reportedly has an NHL salary cap charge of $4.25 million annually (AAV), but even if he wants a five-year contract in the $7 million AAV range I would consider it if I were the Red Wings. I wouldn’t go longer than five years.


More important for the New York Rangers, a veteran third-pair defenseman or a top-six right wing? — @PTC2242

Right wing. That’s been a need for the Rangers all season. They have five top-six forwards they feel comfortable with right now based on experience, production and positioning: centers Mika Zibanejad and Ryan Strome, left wings Chris Kreider and Artemi Panarin, and right wing Kaapo Kakko, who is week to week with an upper-body injury. Alexis Lafreniere prefers to play on the left side but has moved to the right to get into the top-six at times. It’s been inconsistent, like his game. Same with Dryden Hunt, Barclay Goodrow and Filip Chytil. None has played well enough to stay in the top six. The Rangers ideally would like to stabilize it before the deadline.

I think they should target Stars forward Joe Pavelski, who is in the final season of a three-year, $21 million contract ($7 million AAV). It’s unclear if Pavelski will be available, but if he is, he’s the one I’d go after because he’s a veteran goal-scorer with a right-handed shot who would upgrade the net-front presence on New York’s second power-play unit. Fitting Pavelski under the NHL salary cap is not a concern; the Rangers have the space. They have two second-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft and a glut of young and promising, yet still developing, defensemen including Nils Lundkvist, Matthew Robertson, Tarmo Reunanen and Zac Jones (I wouldn’t trade rookie Braden Schneider). Each could be of interest to the Stars, especially if Klingberg’s days in Dallas are numbered. 


To the Boston Bruins: Jakob Chychrun and Lawson Crouse; to the Arizona Coyotes: Jake DeBrusk, Jeremy Swayman, Trent Frederic, Urho Vaakanainen, Boston’s 2022 first-round pick and its 2023 third-round pick? — @TJ_TMorrison23

Remove Swayman. I see the temptation to trade the goalie with Tuukka Rask back and Linus Ullmark signed for three more seasons, but we don’t know Rask’s future beyond this season and Swayman has proven he’s an NHL goalie. He is 15-9-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and three shutouts in 26 NHL games. The rest of it makes sense from a Bruins perspective, though they can probably keep the third-round pick. 

From the Coyotes perspective, the holdup is DeBrusk and the value they place on the 25-year-old forward in the last season of a two-year, $7.35 million contract ($3.675 million AAV). The Coyotes would have to give him a one-year qualifying offer worth $4.41 million to retain him, per the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement (a 120 percent increase from the AAV on his expiring contract). He could become a UFA if they did not qualify him. 

I think the Coyotes would trade Chychrun, a 23-year-old defenseman, for a player like DeBrusk (147 points; 73 goals, 74 assists in 278 NHL games) and a first-round pick. Crouse, a 24-year-old forward, could be worth Frederic, a 23-year-old center, and Vaakanainen, a 23-year-old defenseman. The Bruins picked each of them in the first round, Frederic (No. 29 in the 2016 NHL Draft) and Vaakanainen (No. 18 in the 2017 NHL Draft), but neither has shown he can become an impact player in the NHL. Chychrun and Crouse are impact players, which is why the Bruins would have to give up multiple assets to get them.

The pick would give the Coyotes four in the first round of the 2022 draft plus four more in the second round. But the value they place on DeBrusk matters because it doesn’t make sense to acquire a player who wouldn’t be a part of their future if they are going to trade Chychrun and Crouse. If they believe DeBrusk can be part of their core going forward, it’s a move that makes sense, and the subsequent move would be to sign him to a multiyear contract.


Who are the Pittsburgh Penguins’ best options for a new backup goalie? — @TopesWriter

If you’re looking for an immediate upgrade from Casey DeSmith, the backup to Tristan Jarry, who could be a UFA after this season, you’ll have to give up assets to get Thomas Greiss from the Red Wings, Joonas Korpisalo from the Columbus Blue Jackets, Braden Holtby from the Stars, or Pavel Francouz from the Colorado Avalanche. It might be easier to acquire Charlie Lindgren from the St. Louis Blues, Jonas Johansson from the Florida Panthers, or Anton Forsberg from the Ottawa Senators, but it’s questionable if any of them is upgrade to DeSmith, who is 3-3-1 with a 3.58 GAA, .886 save percentage and one shutout in nine games this season.

Francouz is the most interesting to me because his in-season availability will depend on what the Avalanche do for their own goaltending depth. Do they feel they need an upgrade from Darcy Kuemper, their No. 1? If they do, does that make Francouz available in a different trade? I’d be watching that if I were Penguins general manager Ron Hextall. Francouz has back-to-back shutouts and is 6-1-0 with a 2.03 GAA, .932 save percentage and one shutout. He is a pending UFA, so if the Penguins can wait until the offseason, they might be able to sign him.

That’s the question for the Penguins: Are they willing to pay the price for an upgrade from DeSmith now or willing to ride it out with what they have and reassess their goaltending depth in the offseason? Jarry’s durability matters. He’s played 34 games, second in the NHL. If he can stay healthy and handle a hefty workload, the Penguins should feel better about addressing other areas before the deadline.


Your top three for the Norris Trophy at the moment? — @813Drew

Cale Makar is the NHL.com selection for the Norris Trophy at this point in the season and the Avalanche defenseman was my pick too. He impacts the game in so many ways for Colorado, which has the best points percentage in the NHL (.762). Makar’s offense is pronounced. He leads defensemen with 16 goals, 13 at even strength, and is tied for fourth with 39 points. He’s plus-22 with a 55.7 percent shot attempts percentage (SAT). Makar’s defense is strong, largely because of how much he pushes the play offensively. 

I had Roman Josi from the Nashville Predators second and Adam Fox from the Rangers third. It pained me not to have Victor Hedman from the Tampa Bay Lightning in my top three. You won’t hear an argument from me if you have Hedman in your top three.

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