by Chris Zadorozny (@Zads07)
With a little over a month to go until training camp, the Detroit Red Wings have a full roster, and still need to sign two more players, restricted free agent forwards Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson.
The roster limit is 23 players, which is where the Red Wings are now, and will certainly be over the roster and cap limit with these two signing sometime in the next month.
The Red Wings current team salary is $66,265,379, way over the $64,300,000 cap size. The reason for that is the contract of Daniel Alfredsson, who signed a 1-year, $5 million deal with incentives up to $1.5 million that can be transferred to next year’s cap to make room for more money this year.
It’s also ok to be over the cap during the summer, just as long as the team whittles it down to 23 players and under the cap limit by the end of training camp.
So what will the Red Wings do? It’s all but certain they are going to have to make a trade. They’ve already used one of their two compliance buyouts on defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, which won’t cost them anything against the cap.
Who will go? Who will stay? It’s all about who makes the most money and who is expendable for the young talent of Nyquist and Andersson.
So far, the only rumor going around, reported first by Ansar Khan of MLive, is the possibility of shipping Jordin Tootoo back to Nashville. According to Khan, there have been discussions already about this topic, but nothing has come of it.
Tootoo makes for a viable candidate to get rid of. His $1.9 million/year salary for the next two years is a lot for a third/fourth line agitator that doesn’t score very often. The one huge problem with getting rid of Tootoo is losing that agitator presence, in physical Eastern Conference.
Of the top 10 fighters in the shortened season last year, six of them came from the Eastern Conference. Out of those six, all of them are currently in the Red Wings Atlantic Division. Without Tootoo, Detroit has no fighter, no agitator, no way to compete on the level that many Eastern Conference teams do.
It’s understandable to send Tootoo away because of his salary, but it will be much more painful to send him away, and have no replacement for his services.
There are other options for the Red Wings to rid of players and salary. A few names to mention for buyouts include Mikael Samuelsson, Cory Emmerton, and Patrick Eaves.
Samuelsson missed all but five games last year, battling injuries. Emmerton could be expendable with the return of Darren Helm, who missed all but one game last year with a nagging back injury. Eaves is a role player that kills penalties when needed, but doesn’t score very often. His $1.2 million salary looks pretty nice to get rid of, especially when younger players like Andersson and Helm can replace him.
It’s not going to be an easy choice for Ken Holland. Each of these players was brought in for a reason: to build a winning hockey team. Now, he has to decide which ones to keep and which ones to get rid of in order to keep what he believes shall be a winning team.
The best course of action for Holland would be to buyout Eaves to start out. Emmerton’s salary is way too small to make a difference ($533,333) and Samuelsson could argue his injuries toward a buyout (something you can’t do in the new CBA).
Tootoo makes for the easy way out because of his salary, but sometimes taking the easy way out will hurt you in the long run. With the Eaves buyout, Emmerton could be traded for a draft pick, and, if willing, Samuelsson could be dealt for a draft pick as well, although he would have to approve it because he has a NTC (no-trade clause).
Something that could transpire over the next few weeks before training camp could be a trade for a big defenseman. Finally, after a whole year passed since Nicklas Lidstrom’s retirement, the defensive core is finally set. With the arrival of Western Michigan Bronco, Danny DeKeyser, he could be the key piece for years to come.
But wait, there’s a rumor floating around that the Red Wings could trade for a big defenseman. The Toronto Maple Leafs and young, big defenseman Cody Franson are at an impass on contract talks, and the Leafs could move him to clear not only roster space, but cap space. It’s believed the Leafs want a prospect and a draft pick.
If this trade were to at all happen, the Wings would have to move a defenseman. It’s possible, that a trade of this proportion could happen, but now that the Red Wings are in the same division with the Leafs, a trade could also be unlikely.
Ken Holland has a tough task at-hand, and over the next month, fans will see one of the best GM’s at work, doing what he does best; build a Stanley Cup winning team.
To read the original post that appeared on Sports Radio Detroit on August 6, 2013, go to www.sportsradiodetroit.com