Four Forward Trade Targets for the Red Wings
After trading Filip Hronek and Tyler Bertuzzi ahead of the 2023 trade deadline, the Detroit Red Wings have eight picks in the first two rounds of the next two NHL Entry Drafts.
Steve Yzerman mentioned in his end-of-season media availability that he would be open to moving a draft pick for an NHL player, similar to what he did last summer with Ville Husso. With an abundance of high draft picks and a deep prospect pool, this may be the summer where Yzerman makes a splash.
Here are four forwards that could fit Detroit's need for scoring in the top six.
Clayton Keller LW/RW
The biggest name on the list, Keller would immediately become Detroit’s most dangerous offensive player. Keller bounced back from a gruesome injury at the end of the 2021-22 season and played all 82 games this year with the Coyotes, scoring 37 goals and 49 assists.
Last week, the Coyotes learned that they would not be getting a new arena in Tempe, and their future in the state of Arizona is now up in the air, which reportedly has their players upset. At the end of last week, Keller met with the Coyotes to discuss the future of the franchise, both on and off the ice, which according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, didn’t result in a trade request just yet.
Keller wouldn’t come cheap. He’s only 24 years old (he will be 25 when next season starts) and is on a favorable contract with a cap hit of $7.15 million for the next five seasons. In any package, you’d have to imagine the Coyotes would be looking for a big package, likely including one, if not two, first-round picks and a top prospect.
But with the uncertainty and being in the prime of his career, could Keller end up wanting a fresh start?
Nick Schmaltz RW/C
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
Another Coyote, Schmaltz's name, started popping up in the NHL rumor mill around this past trade deadline.
With the Coyotes' uncertain future, Schmaltz's base salary jumps from $4.5 million this season to $7.5 million this upcoming season and $8.45 and $8.5 million the following seasons. Schmaltz is an attractive trade target at this year's draft for a team not looking to give up a handful of high-level futures and an average annual cap hit of $5.85 million.
Schmaltz has been a consistent point producer the past two seasons with Arizona, scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace with 22 goals and 58 points in 63 games this past season and 23 goals and 59 points in 63 games in 2021-22. Before being drafted 20th overall in 2014, Schmaltz played three seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers under Red Wings' head coach Derek Lalonde.
The only concern with acquiring Schmaltz is his injury history, as he has not played a full NHL season in the past two seasons. But if acquired, Schmaltz would immediately be one of Detroit's most talented offensive players.
Travis Konecny RW/LW
With the Philadelphia Flyers appearing to trend towards a lengthy rebuild and need to move out cap to acquire futures, at 26 years old, Travis Konecny is a prime trade candidate.
Signed for two more seasons with a cap hit of $5.5 million, Konecny is coming off of a career-best season, scoring 31 goals and 61 points in 60 games. While a smaller forward at five-foot-ten and 175 pounds, Konecny plays with ferocity and isn’t afraid to get to the dirty areas on the ice for offense.
Some concerns surrounding Konecny would be his play off the puck and the fact that he only has two more years left on his contract and would need to decide quicker on his future than other players listed. Detroit has the futures and prospects that Philadelphia would be looking for to help kickstart their rebuild. Konecny is a bonafide top-six scorer, which Detroit desperately lacks, and would immediately improve the team offensively if acquired.
Viktor Arvidsson RW/LW
Los Angeles Kings
Last week on the "32 Thoughts" podcast, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported hearing Viktor Arvidsson's name as a potential cap casualty in Los Angeles. Arvidsson is an interesting target that could be available this offseason and fill a similar void in Detroit as he did in Los Angeles two summers ago.
On July 1st, 2021, the Nashville Predators traded Viktor Arvidsson in exchange for the 40th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and the 84th overall pick the following year. With only a year left on his contract, it's hard to imagine Arvidsson garnering a more extensive package, especially when the Kings are tight to the salary cap.
This season in 77 games, Arvidsson scored 26 goals and 33 assists, which was fourth on the Kings roster. Arvidsson also added one goal and six assists in the Kings' first-round series versus the Oilers.
Arvidsson is an unrestricted free agent at the end of next season, which isn't ideal. Still, given his likely acquisition cost, it would be a worthwhile pickup for Detroit while not giving up significant assets.