DETROIT >> In desperate need of a center, the Detroit Red Wings went out and obtained one right before the NHL trade deadline.
The Wings acquired David Legwand from the Nashville Predators for Patrick Eaves, prospect Calle Jarnkrok and a third-round draft pick, which could turn into a second-rounder if they make the playoff this season.
And the reason why they were so desperate became apparent quick.
The team has shut down Pavel Datsyuk for three weeks due to his injured knee.
That news came on top of the Wings already missing centers Darren Helm (headaches), Stephen Weiss (sports hernia surgery) and Henrik Zetterberg (back surgery) for an extended period of time.
“When you look at our center ice with Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Helm and with Weiss the uncertainty of where we’re at, other than Z and I guess there is some certainty with Pav that he’s going to be shut down for three weeks, we felt it was important to get a bonafide center ice man,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said.
Right now there are no plans for Datsyuk to have surgery.
“That might be an option in the offeseason, but right now the doctors feel we’re going to shut him down,” Holland said. “In January he didn’t play hockey, but worked real hard off the ice thinking he was a day away, a day away. We’re going to back way off the off-ice. They’re going to do some treatments with him over the next few days. We’re going to see where we’re at in three weeks. Right now surgery is not an option, but we’ll see what the future holds.”
Legwand, 33, has 10 goals and 30 assists this season for Nashville in 62 games.
Holland said all the time leading up to the trade deadline they weren’t interested in a rent-a-player, but that indeed could be what Legwand is. He’s in the final year of deal that averaged out at $4.5 million a season.
“With all the news we’ve received, and Weiss could be OK in two to three, but right now there is uncertainty,” Holland said. “That all factored into acquiring a center ice man and the team we’ve acquired him from is a local boy so we’re thinking if we want to keep the player beyond this year we think it’s a very reasonable to happen. He had to trade a no move to come here so obviously we wanted to come home.”
Holland said he think Legwand will center the Wings’ top line, alongside Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist.
The move also was made to keep Detroit in the race for the playoffs. The Wings start Wednesday a point behind Columbus for the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, but with a game in hand.
“Without a doubt,” Holland said when asked if the move was done to stay in the race. “We have to win some games and as we go along here we’re going to get some of these players back. If can qualify for the playoffs we still believe there’s a chance in the first round of the playoffs Z will be back. He’s feeling better.”
Legwand is a Detroit native, attending Grosse Pointe North High School.
He also played his junior career with the Plymouth Whalers.
His final year of juniors he won the Red Tilson Award as the Ontario Hockey League’s most outstanding player after totaling 54 goals and 51 assists.
He was drafted second overall by the Predators in the 1998 draft, behind Vincent Lecavalier.
Legwand holds every franchise record in Nashville, including goals (210), assists (356) and games played (956).