Rumblings: Would Red Wings pay price for Dion Phaneuf?

It will be fascinating to see just what Detroit Red Wings veteran general manager Ken Holland decides to do before the March 2 trade deadline.

Of course he has interest in some of the pending unrestricted free agent defensemen that are still on the market, the likes of Jeff Petry, Andrej Sekera and Zbynek Michalek, among others.

But it’s about the price. The Wings gave up a second-round pick and Calle Jarnkrok last season at the deadline for David Legwand. They needed to make that trade just to make the playoffs because of all their injuries. So there’s no remorse there. But I think what’s giving Holland some pause as he approaches this deadline is that he knows he has to be careful how many times he trades away second-round picks as he continues to brilliantly retool this franchise on the fly.

The Wings are going to make the playoffs for a 24th consecutive season. That’s nothing short of amazing. But that only happens as long as the draft picks and prospects keep coming.

So it’s about the price.

Can he get a Petry or a Sekera for something less than a second-round pick? Probably not, but that’s no doubt the hope.

Or as the clock ticks toward 3 p.m. ET on March 2, does Holland's gut tell him it’s worth dealing a second-rounder if said defenseman helps the Wings get beyond the first round of the playoffs?

It’s a really tough call, and one that I don’t think Holland has made yet.

Certainly if there’s a way for the Wings to sign one of those pending UFA defensemen as part of the deal, then that makes it easier to part with a future asset instead of seeing that player walk away July 1.

Or what about a guy like Dion Phaneuf?

The general belief is that Toronto will look at what’s out there for Phaneuf and Phil Kessel (both of whom carry huge contracts) in the offseason when more teams can get involved. But what if there’s an offer before March 2?

Phaneuf has six years left on his deal after this season, which carries a $7 million salary-cap hit.

My sense is this: For the Wings to even contemplate taking on that type of contract, Phaneuf would have to become a $5.5 million player, with the Leafs retaining the rest of the salary. And I don’t think Detroit would pay a large return either; you can forget a first-round pick ever being part of it.

Are the Wings mildly interested in Phaneuf? I’d say yes with the proviso I just laid out.

To which I think Toronto might be more apt to wait until the summer to build a bigger market. I also don’t think the Maple Leafs have any intention of retaining any salary in any potential Phaneuf deal.

As for the Wings, at the end of the day, if they can’t live with the price that’s out there for any defenseman, they also can live with the possibility of doing nothing as March 2 comes and goes. They have some tantalizing prospects coming, the future looks bright, and there’s no need to damage the future now.

Again, the price must be right for Detroit to act.