The Detroit Red Wings are gearing up for a long offseason. While time is slowly ticking down to the start of NHL Free Agency on July 1st, the first task on the Red Wings’ checklist is to breakdown the salary cap.
Exactly how much money do they have to spend this offseason?
This simple and painless examination of the Red Wings current salary cap should help the casual Hockeytown fans understand what the financial numbers look like heading into the offseason.
Keep in mind that earlier in the season the 2014-15 NHL salary cap was speculated to rise from $64.3 million to $71.1 million, but now reports are saying that figure is going to be closer to the $69-70 million range. Also, the maximum NHL roster size is 23 players.
There are 16 NHL players on contract for next season for the Wings: Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Justin Abdelkader, Johan Franzen, Stephen Weiss, Drew Miller, Darren Helm, Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Luke Glendening, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakob Kindl, Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff, and Jimmy Howard.
Plus there is Tomas Jurco, who could start in the AHL like Gustav Nyquist did this season. The positive with Jurco is he will be able to travel back and forth between the Red Wings and the Grand Rapids Griffins for the duration of next season and be exempt from waivers. That said, I think the Wings learned their lesson last year by holding Nyquist back and won’t make the same mistake twice. Keeping Jurco up with the Wings brings the NHL total up to 17 players with a cap hit of approximately $50.4 million.
That gives the organization about $20 million to re-sign players and bring in free agents.
Who to Bring Back
Using my previous articles, Red Wings that should stay and Red Wings that should go, there are 4 Red Wings that I predict will be re-signed for next season: Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Danny DeKeyser, and (if he doesn’t retire) Daniel Alfredsson.
That means Kyle Quincey, Mikael Samuelsson, Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary, Jonas Gustavsson and David Legwand are all out the door in Detroit and looking for new teams.
Although, I’m not quite sure what is going to happen with Gustavsson. He could be retained as the backup goalie if his salary demands are reasonable, but I fear after a statistical good season for The Monster it’s rather unlikely for that to happen. So, for now, I have him leaving.
Of the S20 million remaining the Red Wings will have around half of that to spend on free agents as I estimate $10 million or so is going to Tatar ($2.5 million), Sheahan ($1.5 million), DeKeyser ($3 million), and Alfredsson ($3 million).
Add everything up and the total is approximately $60 million for 21 players (13 forwards, 6 defensemen, and 1 goalie).
Dead Money (Buy-outs and Buried Contracts)
Nothing to worry about here as the Wings have moved pasted the Carlo Colaiacovo buy-out and Jordin Tootoo (not Johan Franzen) is expected to receive the second and final amnesty buy-out which wouldn’t affect the Red Wings’ salary cap space for next season.
Moving Towards Free Agency
The projected lines for next season look like:
Zetterberg – Datsyuk – Abdelkader
Nyquist – Weiss – Alfredsson
Tatar – Helm – Jurco/Franzen
Miller – Glendening/Sheahan – Andersson
Kronwall – Ericsson
DeKeyser – Smith
Kindl – Lashoff
The Wings have an abundance of forwards (especially with centers) with even more promising prospects waiting their turn in the minors. Overall the biggest holes that need to be filled are on the defensive side of the puck; a top line defenseman and a backup goalie. That means Quincey and Gustavsson will need to be replaced (given they don’t re-sign with the team).
The Red Wings will have plenty of cash (~ $10 million) to make that happen.
Stay tuned as tomorrow I will examine the AHL players within the organization that are ready to fulfill those open roles. Then later, sometime next week, I’ll pick out the best free agents that could be possibly brought in.
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