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Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Williams signing impact on cap

I don't have the salary number for Jason Williams yet, but it certainly sounds like his signing means that the Red Wings are going to carry 22 players again this season ... and that's a number that vice president and general manager Ken Holland thinks is ideal.

"We'll be a little over the cap heading into training camp," said Holland. "We have the flexibility of a couple of kids who can go up and down to Grand Rapids."

That means Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm. Of those two, Abdelkader is clearly the first to go on the Grand Rapids shuttle based on performance, experience and just plain weariness of waiting for a chance. All those factors favor Helm. Add in that Abdelkader's salary ($850,000 plus $140,000 possible bonuses) is higher than Helm's ($599,444) and Helm isn't going anywhere unless preseason performances change tilt heavily towards Abdelkader.

"I'm a big believer in the American Hockey League," said Holland. "The NHL is a man's league. It's the toughest league in the world. If you're not emotionally and physically ready, you're going to lose your confidence. Some people are ready (for the NHL) at 19 like Sidney Crosby. Some are ready at 21 or 22."

That said, Holland's ideal roster is this ... 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies.

The goalies are set with Chris Osgood and Jimmy Howard.

With Abdelkader, Helm, Jason Williams and Tuesday's signee, Patrick Eaves, the Red Wings have 13 forwards. Right now, either the Red Wings are keeping Abdlekader and Helm or adding another forward into the mix (either by signing or someone who's already in the system).

Or there's the option of the Wings going away from the 13-7-2 template short term, keeping just 12 forwards (putting Abdelkader in Grand Rapids) and keeping eight defensemen until a deal can be worked out for one blue-liner.

With eight NHL defensemen, everything hinges on Andreas Lilja's health. The big Swede is still experiencing headaches and might not be able to start the season on the active roster. If that's the case, Lilja and his $1.25 million contract will be off the books and on long-term injured reserve.

If Lilja can play, then either Brett Lebda ($650,000) or Derek Meech ($483,333) might be moved.

"If Lilja's healthy, we're not going to carry eight defensemen," said Holland. "We want to go to camp and have competition for jobs. That's going to be sorted out in training camp. If we get good luck with injuries, I believe we've got the potential of having a team that can contend with any team in our division and compete for the West(ern Conference)."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruce....if this plays out it means McGrath and Oulahen will be put through waivers in October. Your thoughts on whether we will lose one or both of them?

August 6, 2009 at 2:41 PM 
Blogger Chuck Pleiness said...

I'm guessing the Wings don't lose either on waivers.

August 6, 2009 at 2:56 PM 

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