Detroit are interesting.
They, objectively, suck.
Their window is a ways away, and with Yzerman at the helm, they're going to have to be patient, but when they do get all their pieces in place, there's no reason not to expect them to be back to their old dynastic ways. Not to preclude any of the credit Brisbois deserves in keeping it ticking along, but Tampa Bay's current team is still very much held up by the skeleton Yzerman assembled.
That said, they have an interesting little knot in their cotton, in Dylan Larkin.
He is, paradoxically, Too good, and too old, for the team as it is currently built.
He's making 6.1m against the cap, generates honest Selke chatter annually and has 1 year til he can walk.
Adding to the intrigue and or frustration, He's their captain, has an NTC and is a Michigan native. Still;
I think Buffalo should pluck him out of there.
Larkin's NTC and aforementioned contract situation makes for some interesting conditional string attaching, but here's how I break it down.
To DET: BUF 1st (9overall), Casey Mittlestadt, BUF 2023 2nd*
To BUF: Dylan Larkin. DET 2023 4th**
*Pick is selected from those available in BUF control if Mittlestadt plays 70% of season with RedWings NHL team. Pick selected by DET if Mittlestadt does not. basically, injury protection for DET if Mitts gets hurt, means they can slide up the board in the 2nd round if he misses significant time.
** Pick becomes a top 10 protected 1st^ if Larkin does not re-sign.
^ pick slides a year, plus a 2023 3rd.
So, why would either side do this?
More importantly, Why would Larkin waive his clause?
Buffalo are in the position to pretty much give Larkin whatever contract demands he may have. with a year left on his current deal, he can ask for the max 8 years and get it. I'm certain there will be reluctance to go max dollars, but given current economy, anything short of 8mil is on the table I would think.
A graduate of the USNTDP, Larkin presumably will have familiarity with Granato, and with Alex Tuch, two of the most important pieces of the Sabers personnel in it's current form, paired with the emerging Krebs, Cozens, Quinn, Dahlin, Power, the Sabers are a goalie away from making some noise in the Atlantic if Larkin buys in.
In contrast, Detroit could indeed also more or less give Larkin whatever contract he wanted, they have the cap, and term isn't an issue. But is he keen to suffer through many more years like the one just past? They won't be competitive for at least another 3 years. and by then, Larkin will likely be on the autumn of his prime. he's a smart guy, does he want more losing seasons if there's an offer in front of him to with a team hungry and geared to get wins AND a comparable contract extension?
Larkin is outside their ultimate window to compete, despite the emergence and progress of Moritz Seider, Larkin's highest utility to the team right now, to my mind, is in trade for assets that better fit that window of competition, which is picks and guys younger than Larkin's 25. In return, They reel in another high draft pick this year to make consecutive trips to the podium at 8 and 9 in the Bell Centre to add to their burgeoning prospect pool.
In Mittlestadt, they get a project Forward with skill, pedigree and upside, who despite injury troubles has shown signs of growth that perhaps a change of scenery could better unlock and potentially serve as a veteran piece when their crop of draftees does mature.
The question mark over Mittlestadt goes away, replaced by a proven two way Centreman with skill they will have hoped he would mature in to. His age bracket puts him toward the upper end of the Buffalo window, but with Alex Tuch and Tage Thompson forming cornerstones of the 'Adams/Granato' era core, that's not a problem. He immediately legitimizes a top 2 C pair, either with Thompson at 2C, or with Dylan Cozens making an expected step forward shunting 72 to 3C (oh woe, what a problem to have). Shifting the age bracket ahead a little gives Cozens a little breathing room to develop as he won't be expected to provide 2nd line minutes behind Thompson and Larkin allowing him to have a Penguins era Jordan Staal type trajectory behind the Crosby Malkin duo. Losing out on picking at 9 stings, but with 16 and 28, they're still adding two quality prospects and/or leveraging those to trade for a goalie worth the starting job.
That's my quick and messy 1 move overhaul of the Sabres forward situation. If you've read this far, I thank you, and think you've earned the right to Have your say (read call me names lol) below, cheers.