First and foremost, let me preface this article by saying that this is NOT meant to bash Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman.
On November 30th, Yzerman pulled the trigger on a trade with the Winnipeg Jets, seeing goaltender Eric Comrie come to Detroit, while defensive prospect Vili Saarijarvi went the other way. After the draft, Saarijarvi was ranked as Detroit's #17 prospect. During his brief stint with the Red Wings, Comrie played in three games, logging a 4.28 goals against average.
Yesterday, news broke that the Jets had claimed Comrie via waivers, meaning Comrie's stint with the Red Wings is over. But, that is not the most unfortunate part of this transaction. The real issue that I have with this move is the fact that Saarijarvi was wasted.
Sure, it's true that Saarijarvi had not lived up to the hype to this point of his career. As a third round pick of the 2015 draft, he had played the better part of the last two seasons with the Grand Rapids Griffins. In those two seasons, he had played in 125 games, scoring two goals and 26 assists.
Here's my biggest complaint: Being that Saarijarvi still has prospect status (22 years old), and has been on the radar (despite his occasional struggles in the AHL) as a future NHL regular, to send him packing in a deal for a goaltender who was used THREE TIMES in Detroit was a legitimate mistake.
With Jimmy Howard‘s injury issues this year, of course Detroit needed a backup for Jonathan Bernier. Why did the team not bother to call Calvin Pickard up from Grand Rapids, a move that they have already made earlier this season? It seems to me that this would have made much more sense than losing a prospect while in the midst of a tear-it-to-the-ground rebuild.
Sure, Yzerman has found gold in one trade this season when he traded Jacob de la Rose to the St. Louis Blues for Robby Fabbri. In 19 games with Detroit, he has netted eight goals to go with seven assists. Of course, this shows that under the radar trades such as this can be quite beneficial for the teams making the moves. But, the organization knew that Howard would be back before too terribly long when they moved Saarijarvi, meaning that a stint on waivers would be inevitable for Comrie. For a team that moved a prospect for him, they had to know it was unlikely that he would make it through waivers, meaning that they likely KNEW that moving Saarijarvi for Comrie was a waste.
Had the team already decided that Saarijarvi no longer fit into their long term plans? It seems that way. Granted, I'm not keen to anything said behind closed doors regarding the Detroit Red Wings. I'm also certainly not going to bash the “Yzer-plan”. I simply cannot understand at this point what the logic was behind moving a prospect defenseman for a goaltender that they knew would not have a long stint with the organization.