With the addition of Jason Williams, and confirmation from The Highlander regarding his salary for the upcoming season, we can start to piece together a roster and properly analyze the numbers.
It’s been said from the very beginning that the team prefers Justin Abdelkader spend another season in Grand Rapids, although he’s shown that he’s more than capable of playing in the NHL: the big minutes in a leadership role will go a long way when he’s finally a full-time NHLer.
That said, let’s get to the nitty gritty. All of the following figures are available via our Chart.
Chris Osgood (1,416,667)
Jimmy Howard (716,667)
TWO combine for a total cap hit of $2,133,333.
Nicklas Lidstrom (7,450,000)
Brian Rafalski (6,000,000)
Brad Stuart (3,750,000)
Niklas Kronwall (3,000,000)
Andreas Lilja (1,250,000)
Jonathan Ericsson (900,000)
Brett Lebda (650,000)
Derek Meech (483,333)
EIGHT combine for a total cap hit of $23,483,333.
Pavel Datsyuk (6,700,000)
Henrik Zetterberg (6,083,333)
Johan Franzen (3,954,545)
Valtteri Filppula (3,000,000)
Dan Cleary (2,800,000)
Tomas Holmstrom (2,250,000)
Kris Draper (1,583,333)
Jason Williams (1,500,000)
Kirk Maltby (883,333)
Ville Leino (777,325)
Darren Helm (599,444)
Patrick Eaves (500,000)
TWELVE combine for a total cap hit of $30,631,313.
Two goaltenders, eight defensemen, and twelve forwards come in at $56,247,980, leaving the team $552,020 under the cap.
ANALYSIS & SCENARIOS ::
Clearly, I didn’t include Justin Abdelkader’s salary in this mock-up. Base salary plus bonuses, he’s set to earn $850,000 in the NHL this season, and therefore won’t fit even if they were pining for him on the big club. However…
It is beginning to seem like a certainty that Andreas Lilja will not be ready for the season, and moving him to Long-Term Injured Reserve frees up another $1,250,000. This would give the Red Wings about $1.8M in wiggle room. A couple months ago, Ken Holland told anyone that’d listen that he planned on trading a defenseman after training camp, so that he didn’t carry 8 like last year. However, no one will be moved while Lilja’s injured. When (and if) he comes back, then either Lebda or Meech is likely to be traded to avoid scratching two defensemen every night.
In a perfect world, the team would like to have 13 forwards, 7 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders on the roster. Can Derek Meech act as the 13th forward – while being an injury replacement on the blueline? While he’s shown a willingness to play wherever he’s needed, Mike Babcock is obviously more inclined to play him at his natural position.
WHAT I SEE HAPPENING ::
The team opens the season with Lilja on IR, and another low-cost forward “makes” the team – think Evan McGrath, Ryan Oulahen, Kris Newbury, or Jeremy Williams – someone who the Wings would rather be sitting in the press box than Abdelkader.
Then, to alleviate the cap pressure when/if Lilja’s able to return, Brett Lebda is traded. I’ve touched on it before, but I feel like Lebda is more likely than Meech to be traded for a few reasons: he’s more “seasoned,” therefore will see a higher return, he has a slightly higher cap hit, and Meech has shown the willingness and versatility to play forward in a pinch.
Given my scenario, the Wings will start the season with about $1.3M in space. When Lilja’s back and Lebda’s traded, the Wings will have about $700,000.
With Lilja, Meech, Lebda, Abdelkader :: $297,980 OVER the cap.
With Lilja, Meech, Lebda :: $552,020 under the cap.
With Meech, Lebda, Abdelkader & Lilja on LTIR :: $952,020 under the cap.
With Meech, Lebda & Lilja on LTIR :: $1,802,020 under the cap.
Photo Credit: Dave Sandford, Getty Images