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2012 Free Agency Primer

This guy will likely be the first announced signing by the Wings at noon on Sunday

It’s like Christmas in July.

On Sunday at noon, the floodgates will open and several hundred NHL players will get richer. If Dennis Wideman’s deal is any indication of the proceedings, you’re about to see a whole buncha crazy numbers thrown around. And we’ll be your home for all things Live Chatty, as we’ll be hosting our third annual Free Agent Day Live Chat.

To put things in a Wings perspective before the festivities unfold, we thought we’d offer a little primer to get everyone on the same page. We all know Detroit will be gunning for Zach Parise and/or Ryan Suter, so use the following as a template to see where they’d fit — not only on the 23-man roster, but also against the $70.2M salary cap. Of course, all of this information is widely available on our Chart, which is always accessible by clicking that fancy link at the bottom of the column over there on the right –>

35 Jimmy Howard (signed through 2013) :: $2.25M
31 Joey MacDonald (signed through 2013) :: $550k

It’s no secret that the Wings will be shopping for another backup goaltender to act as an insurance policy should Joey Mac’s back flair up again during the season. There are three additional goaltenders under contract (McCollum, Pearce, Mrazek), but none of them will be expected to fill that role. If another netminder is inked on Sunday or the days following, Joey MacDonald’s cap hit will likely be removed via waivers and a demotion to Grand Rapids (if he’s not claimed). He’s on a one-way contract for next season, so if he’s demoted, he likely won’t be recalled during the season.

TOTAL COMMITTED TO (2) GOALTENDERS :: $2.8 million, with the potential for $550,000 to come off the books.

55 Niklas Kronwall (signed through 2019) :: $4.75M
52 Jonathan Ericsson (signed through 2014) :: $3.25M
18 Ian White (signed through 2013) :: $2.875M
4 Jakub Kindl (signed through 2013) :: $883k
2 Brendan Smith (signed through 2013) :: $875k

With the departures of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart, the Red Wings have some holes to fill on the blueline. Which is fine, because they have a ton of cash to throw around this summer. It’s impossible to replace Lidstrom, and very difficult to replace Stuart, but they’ll be making a hard push for Nashville’s Ryan Suter.

Recently, the Wings have been carrying 7 defensemen on the NHL roster and stocking Grand Rapids with some ready-to-be-called-upon guys, but in years past, they’ve carried 8. Depending on Jakub Kindl’s future with the team, they may do that again, though I would doubt it would last all the way through pre-season (injuries and playing time, etc).

In addition to the five guys listed above, they have a restricted free agent to deal with in Kyle Quincey. His cap hit was $3.125M last season, and the Wings were not obligated to offer him a raise on a qualifying offer. Of course, Quincey wasn’t obligated to sign that offer, and here we are. Expect him to agree to terms soon and then six of the blueline spots are spoken for.

The rest of the defensemen that are under contract (Brian Lashoff, Adam Almquist, Gleason Fournier, Max Nicastro, and some homeboys that will be returned to juniors) aren’t close to competing for a roster spot on the big club.

TOTAL COMMITTED TO (5) DEFENSEMEN :: $12.63M plus whatever Quincey will command, likely in the $3.5M – 4M range.

13 Pavel Datsyuk (signed through 2014) :: $6.7M
40 Henrik Zetterberg (signed through 2021) :: $6.083M
93 Johan Franzen (signed through 2020) :: $3.955M
51 Valtteri Filppula (signed through 2013) :: $3M
11 Dan Cleary (signed through 2013) :: $2.8M
43 Darren Helm (signed through 2016) :: $2.125M
44 Todd Bertuzzi (signed through 2014) :: $2.075M
17 Patrick Eaves (signed through 2014) :: $1.2M
20 Drew Miller (signed through 2013) :: $837k
14 Gustav Nyquist (signed through 2013) :: $762k
39 Jan Mursak (signed through 2013) :: $550k
48 Cory Emmerton (signed through 2014) :: $533k

That’s 12 guys signed, and the team will likely carry 14. That leaves (lemme get my abacus) two spots to be filled. It’s no guarantee, however, that the players listed above all make it to the NHL roster for the regular season. Patrick Eaves missed most of last season, but — hopefully — is well enough to continue his career. Gustav Nyquist — even though he absolutely, positively should be on the roster — doesn’t have to clear waivers to be sent back down to Grand Rapids. Jan Mursak and Cory Emmerton may or may not have done enough to secure their place on this team.

Making matters a little stickier is Justin Abdelkader. He, like Quincey, is a restricted free agent. The Red Wings were obligated to offer him a 5% raise on his salary from last season, but that number ($880k-ish) won’t be acceptable for someone who contributes on a daily basis. He’ll likely be seeking somewhere in the $1.2 – $1.5M range. If he and the team can’t come to an agreement, he would be free to sign an offer sheet from another club (as would Kyle Quincey). The Wings would then have the opportunity to match that offer or accept draft pick compensation from the other team.

In addition, the Red Wings have agreed to terms with Swiss superstar Damien Brunner, who Mike Babcock believes will step right in on the Wings Top Six. He hasn’t officially been signed yet (he can’t sign until July 1st), but expect to hear about that right around noon. There are other players under contract (Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Joakim Andersson, Landon Ferraro, Calle Jarnkrok, Teemu Pulkkinen) who are very likely not in the running for a roster spot — or are staying in Europe for another season.

TOTAL COMMITTED TO (12) FORWARDS :: $30.62M plus Brunner and Abdelkader, assuming the former stays on the NHL roster, and potentially subtracting some of the existing cap hits.

So with 19 players (against the 23-player limit) already under contract, the Detroit Red Wings have committed just over $46M to the 2012-13 payroll. With the salary cap set at $70.2M, the Red Wings have the following figure with which to work on Sunday, July 1st:


Again, that number could increase (if the team decides that Mursak, for example, is expendable) or decrease (if Kyle Quincey or Justin Abdelkader are signed today), but that’s a ton of cash to fill what boils down to four bodies.

2 thoughts on “2012 Free Agency Primer”

  1. Just wondering, what about Holmström. shouldn’t his cap hit be included in this? Thanks for the article anyway!

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