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After yet another overtime home loss for the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, this time to their new division rival in the Tampa Bay Lightning, the displeasure of an impatient fan base continues to grow. Despite garnering points in 14 of 19 contests to date, the calls are growing louder for Ken Holland
to address the growing concern surrounding the lack of scoring options not named Zetterberg or Datsyuk for the 9-5-4 Red Wings.
However, Holland has more pressing issues to take care of this week, namely getting his roster "cap compliant" prior to this upcoming Friday when Jonathan Ericsson
is expected to be activated from the long-term injury reserve. The hope of Red Wing fans is not only will Holland get the roster cap compliant, but will also makes a move to free up enough space to recall Gustav Nyquist
from Grand Rapids and have him take up permanent residence in the Detroit Red Wing locker room. The 24 year-old Swede currently leads the Griffins with 17 points in 12 games played to date and played a pivotal role for the Red Wings during last season's playoff series against both Anaheim and Chicago. Many expected Nyquist to be a staple in Detroit's top 9 forward group this season. However, given the re-signing of Daniel Cleary
in mid-September along with the Red Wings electing not to buyout a second contract in July forced Wings management to utilize their last resort of sending Nyquist down to the AHL as he is still waiver exempt for 2 more NHL games.
With the three long-term injury reserve stints the Red Wings have incurred thus far by Darren Helm
, Patrick Eaves
and Ericsson, the Red Wings will have “earned” $896,410 in LTIR “credits” to elevate their salary cap to $65,196,410 from the league imposed cap of $64,300,000.
Realistically, prior to Ericsson being activated, both Luke Glendening
and Xavier Ouellet
will be returned to Grand Rapids. At that point, the Red Wings will be approximately $383,000 over their team’s cap and in need of eliminating one roster spot. Given last week’s transaction waiving Jordin Tootoo
, the expectation is he will be assigned to Grand Rapids. The $925,000 in cap savings would make the team cap compliant.
But what about getting Nyquist up to Detroit ASAP?
Currently, only $25,000 of Nyquist’s $950,000 cap hit is currently counting against the Red Wings salary cap. As a result, they need $925,000 of space to make his return a reality. With the aforementioned Tootoo move, they will only have $591,865 in cap space. So what other potential options are available to get the needed space?
In order of least likely to most likely to occur:
1) Waive Mikael Samuelsson
and garner an additional $100,000 in cap savings. Don’t see this option being used because of the minimal cap savings, unless used in conjunction with a different option.
2) Waive Patrick Eaves
- The expectation is Eaves would get claimed, thus freeing up $1.2 million. A pending UFA this summer, the 29-year old Eaves has been a solid bottom-six forward for the club when he has been healthy. That being said, with a majority of teams within $2 million of the cap, perhaps Eaves getting claimed isn’t a slam dunk. If he cleared, the Wings would obtain $925,000 in cap savings which would be enough to free up space to call up Nyquist.
3) Make a 1-for-1 trade where the Wings take on a player making approximately $360,000 less than the player they are moving? We likely won't see this option undertaken because it would actually involve some creativity and work to target a player in a similar situation as the player getting moved. I can't imagine the odds are high the Red Wings plan to re-sign Kyle Quincey
in the off-season. Can a slightly less expensive alternative be found? Total hypothetical....but Stephane Robidas
4) Trade Jordin Tootoo
and retain a portion of his salary for this season and next season. Would someone be willing to take on Tootoo for about $1.25 million for this season and next? Maybe….but likely not enticing enough for another team to bite.
5) Trade Mikael Samuelsson
to a Western Conference team and retain significant portion of his salary. If the Wings are able to convince Samuelsson to accept a deal to a playoff bound Western Conference team, perhaps they bite a substantial chunk of his contract in order to free up the roster and cap space to bring in Nyquist. Would a team be interested in Samuelsson at a third or half of the $3 million cap hit remaining for this season? Stranger things have happened.
6) The most likely scenario....wait for one or two more LTIR injuries. A 24 day stay on the LTIR by one of Detroit’s players earning $3,000,000 or more would free up enough space to warrant Nyquist getting called up for good. In a perfect world, Samuelsson would go down with a “upper body injury”, free up about $460,000 in additional LTIR credits and the Gustav Nyquist era in Grand Rapids would come to a screeching halt.
The bottom line is while fans want Nyquist in Detroit yesterday, Holland will bide his time and let nature take its course and allow injuries to open the door for Nyquist's eventual return to Detroit's top 9 forwards.
It could be next week....or it could be in 2014.
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