Years have elapsed since the deals were done. Regardless, the moves made by the Detroit Red Wings at both the 2014 and 2015 NHL trade deadlines continue to haunt the franchise. The Stanley Cup playoffs are again serving as a reminder about what it cost the club to win one playoff game in 2014 and lose in the first round again the following season.
At the deadline in 2015, then Red Wings general manager Ken Holland sent forward prospect Mattias Janmark, defenseman Mattias Backman and a second-round pick in the 2015 NHL entry draft to the Dallas Stars for veteran forward Erik Cole.
One year earlier, the Wings moved at the deadline to acquire center David Legwand from the Nashville Predators. The cost was forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Patrick Eaves and a condtional 2014 draft pick.
Neither move helped Detroit much then, but the Wings continue to feel the pain of these short-sighted win-now decisions that in fact won the team nothing much at all.
As the Stanley Cup playoffs are unfolding again this year without participation of the Wings, remnants from those deals were again prevalent in the postseason.
Janmark Fires Hat Trick
Facing the Minnesota Wild in a win-or-go-home Game 7 scenario, the Vegas Golden Knights won 6-2, thanks in no small part to a hat-trick scored by Janmark. Vegas acquired him at the trade deadline from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Janmark signed as an unrestricted free agent with Chicago last summer following four seasons in Dallas. He scored 19 goals for the Stars in 2017-18 and helped the club reach the Stanley Cup final last year.
Janmark suffered a leg injury in Game 1 of the West Division final against the Colorado Avalanche. His status going forward is uncertain.
Meanwhile, Cole, the player Detroit added in that deal, played just 11 games as a Wing. Cole ended up suffering a career-ending spinal contusion when hooked by Arizona Coyotes forward Lauri Korpikoski.
Wait, though. Things get worse for the Wings. The pick they dealt Dallas – 49th overall – was utilized to select right winger Roope Hintz. He’s scored 34 goals for the Stars over the past two seasons. Hintz is one of the fastest skaters in the NHL.
Jarnkrok A Cup Finalist
Jarnkrok has registered five straight seasons of double-digit goals for the Predators. He also played in the Stanley Cup final in the spring of 2017.
At the time, the move smacked of panic. The Wings were in a dog fight for a playoff spot. The club’s top four centers – Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Darren Helm and Stephen Weiss – were out with injuries.
When the Legwand move was made, a team source allowed that the call to get another center came from above Holland’s pay grade. The GM was told in no uncertain terms to ensure that Detroit’s playoff streak wouldn’t end. It stood as 23 straight seasons through the 2013-14 campaign.
Legwand collected 4-7-11 numbers in 21 games for Detroit. He was a minus-nine. Legward was held pointless in five playoff games as the Boston Bruins quickly dispatched the Wings.
It’s easy to scoff and suggest that neither Jarnkrok or Janmark are core players or difference makers as NHLers. That’s true, but what’s also true is that working with Michael Rasmussen, it would give the Wings a heck of a third line.
Certainly, the Wings could find a top-six role for a talent like Hintz. And even if he wasn’t the guy that Detroit would’ve taken had the club held on to that 49th pick, the player chosen at No. 50 was Jordan Greenway. He played on Minnesota’s top forward line this season.