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Three Questions: Realignment, Trade Chatter, and Awards

February 27th, 2013 at 2:49 PM
By Frank Vajcner

1. Q: What can be expected with the NHL's realignment plan?

A: In case you missed it, CBC's Elliotte Friedman reported on the NHL proposing a realignment for all thirty teams. As of now the league is staying with two conferences, rather than four. However, they will be going back to the old four division format.

The Eastern Conference will have 16 teams divided into two eight team divisions, while the Western Conference will have 14 teams divided into two seven team divisions. The Detroit Red Wings would move to the Eastern Conference's proposed Central Division with Boston, Buffalo, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, and Toronto.

The initial reaction to this is that while the Wings are back in the east, the rest of the current Central Division is elsewhere. Columbus is expected to move to the new Atlantic Division with Carolina, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington. Chicago, St. Louis, and Nashville are all in the West's new Midwest Division with Colorado, Dallas, Minnesota, and Winnipeg.

Much more will be talked about in an upcoming editorial. For the Wings, this means finally playing in the East and less trips to California and Western Canada, but it also means less playing big rivals like the Blackhawks and Blues.

2. Q: Will the Michael Ryder-Erik Cole swap eventually lead to Ken Holland pulling the trigger on a trade?

A: Hard to say, but with shipping Ryder and a third-rounder to Montreal for Cole was definitely the first big domino to fall on the trade market.

Right now, it's hard to tell if there's a certain player that the Wings could be in play for. The two biggest fish are Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf of Anaheim, but the Wings would have to give up a lot to get one or both. The primary need is on the blue line, and with Brendan Smith and Carlo Colaiacovo due back from injuries, players like Kent Huskins, Jakub Kindl, and Kyle Quincey could be used as bait.

If any forwards are likely to get shipped out, Justin Abdelkader could be the first to go due to his lack of scoring production, as he has yet to score a goal. Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen also keep popping up in trade rumors, and even Tomas Tatar could be getting some attention from other teams.

April 3 is still far off, but Holland could be on the phone a lot come mid-to-late March.

3. Q: Any Red Wings' players making a push for awards?

A: First the easy ones. For Art Ross (scoring champ), Henrik Zetterberg (25 points) is tied for fourth in the league with the Islanders' John Tavares. He trails co-leaders Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos by five. If Zetterberg has another big scoring night, he could be in the thick of things for Ross.

Damien Brunner could make a push for the Rocket Richard Trophy (most goals), as his ten goals leave him four behind Stamkos. Don't be surprised to see Brunner in this race come season's end.

Niklas Kronwall has pushed his way into the Norris Trophy (best defenseman) discussion, as he leads all defensemen in scoring with 16 points, and is coming off of back-to-back three-point games. Kronwall joins Pittsburgh's Kris Letang as the only defensemen to record consecutive three-point games since 1978.

Even head coach Mike Babcock could wind up with the Jack Adams Trophy for best coach if the Wings finish fourth or better in the West.

So if things keep heading in the direction that they've been going, the Red Wings could be taking home some individual hardware at season's end.

Tags: Detroit, Detroit Red Wings, Hockey, NHL

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