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.
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?
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.
Want to try your hand at fixing the Red Wings’ salary cap issues? Check out Capgeek.com.
Read more Red Wings rumors, news and opinion on our Detroit Red Wings page.