Detroit Red Wings: Injuries, salary cap, and roster space

The Detroit Red Wings are slowly but surely starting to get healthy. The injury reserve list has been whittled down to include Pavel Datsyuk, Jimmy Howard, Joakim Andersson, and Stephen Weiss. Obviously, it’s would be great to get everyone healthy again before the Olympic break. But it would come at cost.

detroit red wings

Riley Sheahan has goals in back to back games. (Photo Credit: Leon Halip / Getty Images)

Remember at the start of the season when Gustav Nyquist was trapped in the AHL because of salary cap and roster space issues. Well, that problem is slowly becoming a factor once again.

Mikael Samuelsson became the first victim on Saturday when the Wings waived him to Grand Rapids to make room for Johan Franzen’s return to the lineup.

The move to send the veteran down instead Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening, or Tomas Jurco should be taken as a victory for the youngsters who continue to impress as they get more minutes.

Ken Holland addressed the issues by saying, “I said to Mike Babcock ‘Dress the 12 forwards you think give us the best chance to beat the Florida Panthers.’”

It certainly wasn’t Sheahan, Glendening, and Jurco fault that the Red Wings fell to Florida Panthers tonight in a shootout considering they contributed on half of the Red Wings 4 goals.

However, the odds that the three of them are staying long-term is slim to none because they are waiver exempt and can return to Grand Rapids without the risk of being claimed by another NHL team.

The Wings have to make room for the return of Datsyuk, Andersson, and Weiss, while Howard will seamlessly transition back in the lineup by taking Mrazek’s spot. On the surface, this looks like simple math: A 3-way swap with the young guns getting the short end of the stick.

But, it’s not that simple.

The salaries wouldn’t be compliant as the Wings would be over the cap by 1.1 million.

So, what are the Red Wings’ options?

detroit red wings

Tomas Jurco has shown off his speed, strength, and world class hands in the 12 games he has played in this season. (Photo Credit: Leon Halip / Getty Images)

The fan favorite option is to waive Daniel Cleary but by doing so it still doesn’t solve the problem. The Wings would still be over budget by $800,000 to $1,000,000 depending on which youngster doesn’t get the boot.

This has now become a problem that can’t be solved by burying contracts in the AHL.

The Wings get $925,000 off their NHL salary cap by burying a contract and it takes $500,000-$700,000 to keep a rookie up to fill that vacant roster spot. So, each time it’s a turnaround of $200,000 to $350,000. That isn’t enough to cover the $1.1 million cap deficit.

So, I can only see two clear options for the Red Wings to get out of this mess.

1. Keep players hurt so they can hide their contracts on the injury reserve.

2. Make a trade.

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  • 547984

    Missed the Florida game…only watched the first period…didn’t look too good. Another third period crumble…

    As for the cap issues…I’m guessing it would be less likely for them to make a trade for a bigger name…like Edler or Hemsky? Who would they put on the block most likely then? I really don’t know.

    • Alex Eisen

      Trading block wise their options are rather limited. They best case scenario is they trade away Franzen and/or Quincey. They are the least productive with the highest salaries but no team is going to want to take on their contracts either.

      The next tier of players worth anything on the trading block would probably be Helm, Abdelkader, and Eaves. Also, just throwing this out there, if the Wings really wanted something in return they would trade away Zetterberg. But, I just can’t see the Wings doing that to their Captain even though from a business perspective it makes logical sense.

      • Nick Nolan

        They can’t trade Mule because of cap restraints, no? I mean they could for a minimal return. But, if they trade him and he retires we’re on the hook for his cap hit until his atrocious contract runs out. Our last buyout is best spent on him if he’s going to move. But for his cap hit and production compared to the $100M cap projections in the near future he’s not a bad deal. I’m not sure anyone would trade for KFQ=Kyle Quincey which is too bad. Luckily the Wings cap problems are just about behind us thanks to prorating of contracts. It’s more a question of roster space than cap now especially with Weiss on LTIR.

        • Alex Eisen

          Correct, but problems start to arise when Weiss is ready to be activated from LTIR. His $4.9 million yearly contract takes a huge chunk out of the salary cap.