By @StefanKubus –
The Red Wings moved a big name on Monday, but it wasn’t necessarily the one expected to go.
Forward Tomas Tatar, 27, was dealt to the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a trio of draft picks — 2018 1st-round, 2019 2nd-round and 2021 3rd-round selections.
Wings GM Ken Holland discussed the Tatar deal and also why a deal with soon-to-be unrestricted-free-agent defenseman Mike Green never materialized.
Holland said he received calls on Tatar over the last couple weeks, informing teams he was interested in acquiring draft picks. Holland said he and Vegas GM George McPhee finalized the deal just before the 3 p.m. deadline after exchanging calls and texts throughout the day and past week.
“We’re not where we need to be,” Holland said. “There’s other circumstances, creating opportunity for some young people, we’re not good enough, we’re looking to the future. But I’m glad I was able to get Tomas Tatar to a real good team. Obviously Vegas is one of the teams, a lot of excitement in that city, they’re having a great year. They’re first in the West, they’re looking to go on a long playoff run, it looks like they’re gonna have a good team next year and the year after… We were able to find a deal we feel good about and what a great opportunity for Tomas Tatar. I feel the same way about Petr Mrazek. When it doesn’t work out and you’ve got people that helped you, your organization, along the way… for me, the number one thing is to find the best assets I can for this team, but certainly when you’ve got to make the call, and you’re telling somebody they’re going to great spot, for me, personally, I feel good being able to tell them they’re going to a good spot.”
The Wings’ GM also cited depth on the wing, with prospects like Evgeny Svechnikov and Tyler Bertuzzi, for allowing him to move Tatar. Holland said creating cap space wasn’t a factor in the deal, but rather “creating opportunity” for the likes of said younger players. That said, Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou all need new contracts this summer.
“This is more about looking toward the future, creating opportunity for some younger people in the organization that we think are ready,” Holland said. “One of them is on the team in Tyler Bertuzzi, one is on Grand Rapids in his second-year pro in (Evgeny) Svechnikov, one of them is our first-round pick, who’s a (2017) ninth-overall pick in (Michael) Rasmussen. And we’ve got veterans; we’ve got (Justin) Abdelkader, we’ve got (Luke) Glendening who can play on the wing, we’ve got (Darren) Helm, we’ve got (Gustav) Nyquist.”
With regards to Green, he was certainly expected to be moved, but due to his recent nagging neck injury and potential suitors chasing after the likes of Ryan McDonagh (acquired by Tampa Bay) and Erik Karlsson, a deal couldn’t be made. Holland confirmed one team requested his medical report and another team was interested over the last four-five days.
“There was interest, and over the last week, obviously Mike hasn’t played,” Holland said. “I have to give full disclosure. One team out there requested his medical reports and we had talked to a team doctor, and another team was very interested here over the last four or five days, but obviously Mike hasn’t been able to play, the injury that he’s got is something that could resurface again here. He’s getting better, a chance he could be in our lineup this weekend.
“Obviously hard for a team to add a player that they weren’t 100-percent sure when he was gonna come back and if he did come back, if maybe the injury flared up again, so that had everything to do with Mike Green remaining a Red Wing. Certainly, I talked to Mike. Mike was open to being traded to another team. He would’ve loved the opportunity to go for a team that had a real chance to win a Stanley Cup. We had that conversation ten days ago.”
As of Monday, with 20 games remaining in the season, the Red Wings sit five points back of Columbus and the Eastern Conference’s second wild card spot.