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January 18, 2014 | 1:01am ET
Wings looking for depth up front
TheFourthPeriod.com

With the calendar flipping to 2014, NHL general managers will soon become hockey's version of the Wolf of Wall Street.

They'll be working the phones to corner the market on assets they need to put them over the top for a Stanley Cup championship.

Between now and the March 5 trade deadline, TFP regularly breaks down a team's most pressing need, at the time, with a solution on how to cash out.

In Detroit, head coach Mike Babcock has seemingly dealt with an injury plagued lineup since opening night.

No position has gone unscathed and only the organizational depth combined with Babock's usual stellar work has kept this team in playoff position through the first half of the season.

The Situation: The expectation never changes in Motown, the Red Wings are supposed to make the playoffs and have a deep run regardless of who wears the Winged Wheel on any given night because, hey, they're the Red Wings.

The team's current marginal play has them on the outside looking in for the post-season but the eternal optimist Babcock believes that will change come April.

"Bottom line is we just got to keep plugging, getting better," he said. "I wouldn't bet against us. I've said this a number of times this year, enough to make me want to puke, is that I'm focused on the players that are here."

The Need: Wings GM Ken Holland is grateful for the return to form by Olympic netminder Jimmy Howard over the past week. His strong performance in games against Los Angeles and the New York Rangers indicates he's ready to turn the page on an injury plagued first half and give the level of goaltending that was expected when he signed his long term extension.

If they can rely on Howard, it makes the lessen need for defense as Detroit is in the top half for goals against. The return of Jonathan Ericsson from broken ribs will further bolster the blueline, so Mr. Holland Opus at the trade desk will be an offensive tune.

The Play: It's little surprise with the list of top-six players on the injured list the Red Wings are in the bottom third of the NHL in scoring. Even before his groin injury, Stephen Weiss was the clubhouse leader for the award of "Most Disappointing Free Agent Signing."

The rumor that Edmonton Oilers right wing Ales Hemsky could land at the Joe is about to take its usual March flight and it's always made sense given his game a fit for this offense.

The main issue with any deal is that Holland is handicapped by his injured high-priced stars that will give him approximately $500,000 in cap space come the deadline. Any swap will have to be dollar-for-dollar or one with the trading partner retains a large portion of a cap hit.

For a team that finds it near-impossible to win a shootout, shootout specialist Brad Boyes of the Florida Panthers would help on the wing, as well as in the skills competition.

Boyes, who the Panthers are willing to part with, is on a $1 million deal that will expire at season's end, so the money works in addition to filling a need.


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