DETROIT – With 13 of the 15 teams in the Western Conference still alive in the playoff picture, trade talks have slowed to a snail’s pace.
“I’ve had some conversations over the last three or four days, a couple more today,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Sunday afternoon. “There’s not a lot going on. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.
“There aren’t a lot of sellers and even the teams that are out of it are in a lot of cases just re-signing their players,” Holland added. “Maybe something gives tomorrow. Right now I’d say there’s not a lot going on.”
Heading into play Sunday, Anaheim sat at 13th in the West, but was just six points out of eighth. It’s more of the same in the Eastern Conference as Tampa Bay (12th) and the New York Islanders (13th) were eight points out of the last playoff spot as well.
“You love size,” Holland said. “You love a center man that can win draws. We were involved in a three-way trade. (Sunday) a third goalie in St. Louis’ system is moved, not much is going on. I’m going to attribute that to parity. Teams might not be sellers, they might not be buyers, they may just keep what they have.”
Holland said the Wings are set on goaltending and defense, despite Jonathan Ericsson being sidelined for up to a month with a chipped fracture in his left wrist. He suffered the injury early in the second period of Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
“We’ve (Jakub) Kind, we’ve got (Mike) Commodore and we’ve got Brendan Smith,” Holland said. “Kindl’s going in. If he doesn’t do it we’ve got Commodore and if he doesn’t do it then we’ll go Smith and if they all don’t do it we don’t have enough. That’s sports.
“We like our team,” Holland added. “We’re second in the West. We would like to get deeper, but a player has to be available that we think will help and at a price we’re prepared to pay. We paid a first-round draft pick for a 26-year-old defenseman. Ty Conklin has given up four goals in three games in Grand Rapids. He’s playing closer to the form that we thought he could when we signed him. Joey MacDonald has done a good job. We feel good about our goaltending. We feel we’re deep on defense. We’d like to get deeper up front but that might not be there.”
The Wings are winless in their last three games, going 0-2-1. All three of those games were played without Pavel Datsyuk, who is probably still two weeks away from returning to a game.
“From date of surgery you’ve got to give him three weeks until he’ll begin playing,” Holland estimated. “We haven’t played that good this past week. We haven’t been nearly as good defensively as we have been all year. We gave up about four or five breakaways in Chicago. We gave up 43 shots against Vancouver and gave up a lot of D-zone goals (Saturday) night on bad coverage. We need to get back to playing the type of hockey we’ve been playing up till last week. We’ve got the players. We’ve seen them do it. We know they can do it.”
Detroit has also been lucky when it has come to injuries this season until this month. They’ve lost Jimmy Howard, Ericsson, Danny Cleary and Datsyuk.
“It takes you awhile to get back ramped up and playing,” Holland said. “You can’t fluke second in the West. We’ve played at a high level. We’ve played really good at home. We’d like to be better on the road, but in the Western Conference, other than Vancouver that has a tremendous road record, there are two or three teams over .500. It’s hard in our conference to win on the road.”