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Aly Dhanani The Hockey Writers

Published on Sunday, July 24, 2016





Red Wings In Salary Cap Trouble

The Detroit Red Wings are in a salary cap crunch. With important Restricted Free Agent’s Petr Mrazek and Danny DeKeyser still unsigned, and with only $3.27 Million (per General Fanager ) in cap space, something’s got to give. Let’s say DeKeyser gets $3.5 Million per year on a two-year ‘show me’ deal. The downside of this is DeKeyser, 26, becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent in 2018. But, with the cap situation the Red Wings are in, you really can’t complain. The contract is reasonable, and only puts Detroit $230 Thousand above the cap.

(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

However, goaltender and fellow RFA Petr Mrazek’s contract will make things interesting. I doubt Mrazek’s camp and Wings GM Ken Holland will reach an agreement before their July 27th arbitration date.

Even though the Red Wings want Mrazek on a bridge deal, the arbitrator awarding the contract is neutral and with the great numbers Mrazek posted this season I can’t see him signing a contract with an AAV less than $4 Million.

I mean, a 27-16-3 record with a 2.31 GAA and a .921 SVP are the numbers of a future elite NHL starter. So, let’s say it’s a 3 year, $13.5 Million deal ($4.5 Million per season). This now has the Red Wings $4.79 Million over the NHL salary cap. Who is moved? What players with a cap hit over $4.8 Million would the Detroit Red Wings even consider moving?

The Solution

Petr Mrazek to arbitration, NHL, Detroit Red Wings

(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This brings me to the prospect of trading Jimmy Howard. Howard, 32 has been with the Red Wings since he was drafted in 2003. But now it’s time to move on. Howard had some amazing years from 2009 to 2013 but his recent struggles suggest he is now suited for a backup role, or starter on a mediocre team.

But what teams would be interested? I see this as the main problem. What teams would consider taking on Howard’s $5.1 Million cap hit? It’s possible the Arizona Coyotes would have some interest, but that is not a given. However, lowering the asking price to a fourth/fifth round pick for Howard (with no salary retained) would possibly raise interest. It’s something worth exploring.

Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr)

Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr)

But let’s face the truth. With many teams tight to the cap and the goaltender market weak, is a buyout a more likely option? But, you ask, how is a buyout possible when the weeklong window  already closed in late June? Ah, but there is reportedly another way to get a 48 hour buyout window.

Via the NHL’s CBA agreement, “For teams with one or more arbitration filings in an offseason, an additional buyout window is available 48 hours after the team’s last arbitration filing is awarded or settled.” “Teams can execute a maximum of three buyouts in this additional window over the course of the entire CBA term.”

The paragraph went on to say that the minimum AAV of a player bought out in this additional window is approximately $3 Million. Howard fits the bill. This seems to work out perfectly, as the Red Wings have enough players going to arbitration to gain access to the window, which will likely open July 30 (2 days after Danny DeKeyser’s arbitration if it goes unsettled).

Another player the Wings would consider buying out is left winger Johan Franzen, but he is on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) which makes him ineligible to be bought out.

So, do you think the Detroit Red Wings will buy out Jimmy Howard? Make sure to comment other solutions to their Salary Cap troubles in the comment section.

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