DETROIT >> General manager Ken Holland made two moves prior to the NHL trade deadline Monday with one thing in mind … to make the Wings a better team.
And he didn’t have to part with much to make them.
The Wings dealt for defenseman Marek Zidlicky, a right-hand shooting power-play specialist, after obtaining Erik Cole, a physical, offensive winger, on Sunday.
“I’m confident we’re a better team,” Holland said. “I’m confident we can go on a playoff run. We’re doing the deals thinking we’re a deeper better team than we were 48 hours ago and now over the (rest of the regular season) we’re hoping they can fit in and Mike Babcock can find exactly where they fit in.”
The Wings have not made it out of the second round of the playoffs the last five years.
“We’re right in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference and if we can add a piece or two leading up to the deadline to make us a little deeper, a little better prepared for a playoff series and a price we could live with we wanted to do it,” Holland added. “I think our team has played pretty well. These guys have to come in and win a job.”
Both players are expected to make their debut with the Wings Wednesday against the New York Rangers.
In all Detroit parted with a conditional pick or two for Zidlicky, 38, and a second-round pick and two mid-level prospects to get Cole, 36. Both are unrestricted free agents after this season.
“When I look back at some of the deals we’ve made here over the years you never really know which deals will be the perfect fit or which deals don’t quite work out the way you want,” Holland said. “The price that we paid it was an opportunity to make our team a little bit better and ready for the playoffs.”
Holland expects Cole to play on a line with Henrik Zetterberg, who’s expected to return Wednesday after missing four games with a head injury, while Zidlicky will give a boost to a power-play unit that’s already the best in the league, converting 25-percent of the time.
“I think that’s huge,” Niklas Kronwall said when asked about them not having to give up much in return. “I think we’ve got a really good thing going. We’ve got really good chemistry in the room. So I think that was very important.
“I think we still have a long way to go (before the playoffs),” Kronwall continued. “I haven’t really started talking or thinking about that yet. We just have to focus on these next few games ahead.”
Both Zidlicky and Cole, who had 18 goals and 15 assists in 57 games with Dallas this season, have a decent amount of playoff experience as well.
Cole has six goals and eight assists in 46 playoff games, while Zidlicky, who had four goals and 19 assists in 63 games this season with New Jersey, has appeared in 38 playoff games with a goal and 15 assists.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Jimmy Howard said. “The pieces that Kenny added are a positive for our club. Got that right-handed, offensive defenseman they were seeking and we also added some depth up front with Erik, bringing in a tenacious guy that goes to the net hard and likes to play rough.”
The Wings did inquire about Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf, but could not get the Maple Leafs to take pick up nearly $2 million annually in his salary. Phaneuf has six years remaining on a $49 million contract that he signed in the middle of last season.
For Cole, Detroit parted ways with a pair of prospects – Mattias Janmark (center) and Mattias Backman (defenseman), who are both playing in Sweden – and a 2015 second-round pick. The Wings will receive the Stars’ third-round pick next season unless they reach the conference finals.
The Devils will receive Detroit’s third-round pick in 2016 for Zidlicky. If the Wings reach the Eastern Conference finals this year they’ll also send a 2015 fifth-round pick to New Jersey and the 2016 third rounder moves up to the second round.