Red Wings' cap dance
And that's not a bad thing. It does tie the organization's hands on a lot of moves, but it also means there's a lot of talent here. The Red Wings rarely overpay for players.
Looking at a possible NHL roster, the Red Wings have 11 forwards, 8 defensemen and 2 goalies signed. That roster includes Leino, Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Derek Meech, Jonathan Ericsson, Brett Lebda and Andreas Lilja. That roster does not include Jiri Hudler.
That roster has a cap hit of approx. $55.117 million. That leaves $1.683 million of room left under the $56.8 million cap.
With 11 forwards, the Red Wings obviously need two more and they have two slots open with the roster that I'm using.
The problem is that Hudler's salary is going to make the Wings do a cap dance again.
Hudler could be given a salary of $3-4 million by an arbitrator. Even if he signs for $2 million, that puts Detroit over the cap limit.
So, with $1.683 of room, the obvious place to cut salary is on defense, where eight is a luxury.
Add on Hudler at $3 million and a 13th forward like Jeremy Williams at $500,000 (salary guess) and you've got a team payroll of $58.6 million.
So, you've got two options ... hope that the entire league office has dyslexia and reads $58.6 million as $56.8 million ... or cut $1.817 million off the payroll.
Meech might be the first choice to go as far as past contributions, but at $483,333, cutting his salary doesn't lower the payroll much. Lebda is also economical at $650,000. There's the option of long-term injured reserve, but eventually you have to plan on that/those players returning and the problem is just postponed.
Ericsson and his $900,000 salary aren't going anywhere. Lilja makes $1.25 million. And above that, you've got the big four of Lidstrom ($7.45 million), Rafalski ($6 million), Stuart (3.75 million) and Kronwall ($3 million). And you know that the Wings don't want to get rid of any of those four.
Perhaps there will be buyouts at forward. Now we're getting into some real speculation.
What we know now is that Hudler's salary is the one variable. It will complete the salary puzzle, but it's too large for the one open spot. If Hudler is kept, more moves will have to come.