Detroit Red Wings Cap Space, Roster Spots, Recapture Penalties, and Buyouts for June 2017


We are less than a week away from the 2017 Free Agency opening and the next big hurdle in drawing up the roster from last year. I want to take a quick look at where the wings are currently, how much space they have, who to sign, and what else could happen to some of the squad players.

The Cap Space

Assuming no further action is taken by July 1 (which may affect the consideration of RFAs for now), you’ll read everywhere that the Red Wings have a cap of about $ 8 million. This is both technically correct and annoyingly inaccurate. Please do not use this number.

The problem is that anyone can (and should) go to Capfriendly and see the current Cap numbers. What they are missing is that $ 3.95 million is currently allocated to this number Johan Franzenand we all know he’s going to be for LTIR this season. While the way LTIR works is complicated and technically no more room for the wings, this should essentially be viewed as additional room when the team is handing out contracts.

In addition, before the season starts, all teams have an additional 10% pillow in which they can exceed the upper limit. While this means they could go as high as $ 82.5 as long as their cap stays below $ 79 million, they are on the right track.

If you want to be super specific, say the Red Wings has a cap space of $ 11,857,500. If you want to discuss it, just say they have a hair under $ 12 million.

The roster spots / RFAs

As it stands, Detroit currently has 17 healthy players on its 23-man roster as the players are under contract and “up to date” with the organization. This includes nine strikers, six defenders and two goalkeepers. In terms of a “normal” squad look, that’s five striker points and one defender short.

To fill three of these holes is a defender Xavier Ouellet and forward Andreas Athanasiou and Tomas Tatar. These three are restricted freelance agents and among them only Tatar and Ouellet are eligible for salary arbitration. While any of the three who come July 1 with no new contract remain open to sign an offer sheet giving Detroit the option to either receive or accept draft-pick compensation, it’s decently safe to use them for to sign new contracts.

While I don’t have detailed information on what their deals might look like, I think we could combine the three (give or take a pair) for anywhere near $ 8 million total.

Detroit only has to fill three leading positions

Red Wings June 2017 Forward Depth Chart

In a team RFA Possible calls Long-term calls
In a team RFA Possible calls Long term calls
Henrik Zetterberg Andreas Athanasiou Evegeny Svechnikov Dylan Sadowy
Frans Nielsen Tomas Tatar Tyler Bertuzzi Christoffer Ehn
Gustav Nyquist Martin Frk (RFA) Givani Smith
Justin Abdelkader Axel Holmstrom
Darren Helm Dominic Turgeon
Riley Sheahan Eric Tangradi
Luke Glendening Zach Nastasiuk
Dylan Larkin Matt Lorito
Anthony Mantha Mitch Callahan (UFA)
Ben Street (UFA)

I didn’t mention Martin Frk above, but I think his potential as a power play specialist could come in handy and it would be worthwhile for the organization to give him another contract. However, looking at this list, it seems like most of the leftover money after signing the bigger name RFAs is easiest to use in one depth up front, maybe two.

2017 Red Wings Defense Depth Chart

In a team RFA Possible calls Long-term calls
In a team RFA Possible calls Long term calls
Mike Green Xavier Ouellet Dan Renouf Dennis Cholowski
Danny DeKeyser Robbie Russo Joe Hicketts Libor Sulak
Niklas Kronwall Filip Hronek
Jonathan Ericsson Vili Saarijarvi
Nick Jensen Dylan McIlrath (UFA)
Ryan Sproul Brian Lashoff (RFA)

The defense gets a little more complex because Ouellet has up to seven players on it, but two of those players are Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall while another is Mike Green’s potential trading deadline sell-off. It’s possible the Wings are looking for more depth here than they are looking forward, but with all of the guys in the pipeline and more of them closer to NHL readiness, it seems like they have more room to just do theirs RFAs to sign and roll with the rotation as things go.

Dylan McIlrath here is an interesting case of a man who has really helped the Griffins but who may be looking for more than just another year at the AHL level.

As for the goalkeepers, the wings are probably still trying to move you, but if that happens there is an outside opportunity to spend one of the millions of cap-dollars saved on a backup while the rest is used for other depth signatures. The organization seems to be very fond of Jared Coreau so I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes a full time backup in case a goalkeeper is transferred.


Since we will have until summer 2021 (regardless of the previous lockout), the Wings have three contracts that are eligible for the retake. Here’s how the cap penalty would collapse if any of these three retired this summer:

Henrik Zetterberg: Hank starts his final year on a salary higher than his cap hit that year. So retiring after last season’s performance seems really silly, but his pool for full retirement is right now $ 11.9 million. Take that out on the wings cap for the next four seasons and he’d take a dead hit from $ 2.995 million.

Johan Franzen: Mule has already started his salary decline, but when faced with concussion problems, it is better for both Franzen and the team to simply pay his salary and give him full access to the team doctors than to take the penalty for retaking and putting him in the Send retirement. Its currently remaining reclamation pool is $ 7.9 millionwhich, if hit, would be spread over the next three seasons $ 2.6 million.

Niklas Kronwall: Kronner is the interesting case because he only has two years left, but all indications are that despite the constant knee problems that are holding him back, he still wants to play as much hockey as he can. Kronwall, dropping the A and its annuities, would bring a reverse capture pool of $ 4.25 million on the wings that would hit them $ 2.125 million for each of the next two seasons.

Honestly, these are decently doable considering that the wings position shouldn’t be spent on the cap right now, but rather on a team using its extra cap space both as a buffer against stupid contract signings with free agencies and potentially as a Asset to be used to get more draft selection (by taking over a bad contract from another location). But the wings are not dealing with a very substantial margin, and it might be easier for Kronwall to hit LTIR than do a re-acquisition.

Also with recaptures it should be noted that each of these three amounts will be increased in the next season, since the recapture for all three players at the end of the contract is partially paid out at a loss of time. If it waits until 2018 we will have:

Strand: $ 4.3M / year through 2021
Mule: $ 2.9 million / year through 2020
Crown: $ 3 million for 2018-19


Regarding the purchase of one of the Recapture contracts, I wrote last year why it would be untenable (the tl; dr version says the Recapture significantly increases its cap hits and also spreads them longer). However, if you want to torture yourself on Capfriendly’s buyout calculator, here is the link to do it with anyone. Generally, there is only one contract that makes any reasonable sense in terms of leveraging a buyout and even then it provides a six year deadline for dead space.

There’s no wholly untenable argument that it’s worth spending $ 1.64 million over the next six seasons to get rid of Jonathan Ericsson, but he’s also shy a year before an NTC becomes a 19-team NTC with no trading, which possibly brings more flexibility.

All in all, a lot of things can change between now and opening day, but this is where the Red Wings are from now on. Remember, if someone tells you the Wings currently have $ 8 million, gently remind them that they are forgetting something. Many Thanks.


Dusty Kennedy