I was reading an interesting article on The Hockey Writers website the other day called, “Red Wings in Salary Cap Trouble” and it got me thinking. With all of this talk about how Nail Yakupov’s value is so low that no team will pay the required toll to acquire him, I had to step back for a moment and ask myself if that is really true.
There’s always a team that needs cap reprieve or they’ve got a problem player on their roster and this is potentially one of those situations.
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.
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.
So if that indeed is a true representation of what the Red Wings are facing, the Oilers might be able to help them out and this would be a perfect opportunity for them to try to pry, at least, a 2nd rounder out of Detroit as they have two of them for the 2017 draft. We know that Chiarelli is on the hunt for one to send to Boston as compensation for himself being hired by the Oilers after being fired by the Bruins… Stupid rule…
Johan Franzen may never play another game in the NHL again. The Red Wings can’t buy him out because he’s been on the LTIR, so perhaps they’d look to move him in the same vein as the Chris Pronger or Marc Savard trades. Paper transactions more or less but it would free up nearly $4M per year on the cap for Detroit and that’s possibly how much they need to get Mrazek under contract. His actual dollars go like this for the rest of his deal:
2016 – $3.5M
2017 – $2M
2018 – $1M
2019 – $1M
I don’t think Franzen will play again but you never know, if he was able to play for the Oilers, his experience would be of immense value to such a young team.
Edmonton would want to send Yakupov back and the Red Wings have promising youngsters like Tomas Tatar, Andreas Athanasiou, and Anthony Mantha coming up on the right-wing. Hardly a place there for Yakupov, right? Unless they send one of those youngsters back down to Todd Nelson’s team on the farm.
TOSS IN A DMAN
Would the Red Wings be willing to toss in a defender like Brendan Smith and his $2.75M cap hit. He’s slated to be an unrestricted free agent next summer and unlikely to be protected in the expansion draft given that status.
Unfortunately for the Oilers, he’s a left-handed shooter but even then he’s an experienced NHL defenceman and potentially acquiring him would allow the Oilers to put Nurse and Reinhart in the minors to start the year.
*I know that some of you think that having Darnell Nurse in the minors would be a terrible thing for his confidence and the Oilers could use that toughness on the back-end but here’s the deal, he doesn’t need to get better and being tougher. He needs to get better and being a defenceman and giving him mad minutes in the AHL would allow him the freedom to work on the things needed to be a better NHLer with less pressure. It would also lessen the steepness of his NHL Learning curve.*
To Edmonton: Johan Franzen ($3.94M), Brendan Smith ($2.75M), 2nd round draft pick in 2017
To Detroit: Nail Yakupov ($2.5M), Griffin Reinhart ($863k)
Now I hear what you’re saying and yes, if Reinhart is in the NHL, the numbers don’t work because of bonus payments but if he’s in the AHL, the numbers work. It should come out with the Red Wings having another $3.33M remaining on the cap and that is a very workable number.
Would Detroit really want to move Smith though? He’s a serviceable blueliner right now and the Red Wings defense is not looking as spritely as it has in the past.
*Something I just thought of, if Franzen goes on LTIR, his cap hit won’t count against the Red Wings. So would they really need to trade him? The worst that could happen is he would be healthy enough to come back and would actually want to. A tad different to Andrew Ference’s situation where he can find a way to participate in charity bike rides but can’t get cleared by the NHL to play… So that deal above could very well be nothing to do.*
The Oilers could go after Mike Green and his $6M cap hit and solve all of the Red Wings issues right there. What if the Oilers trade Nail Yakupov for two years of Mike Green? Edmonton has over $8.5M in cap room right now. The Red Wings would get about $3.5M in cap room relief but they’d lose their top dman on the right-side. The deal would actually be Mike Green for Petr Mrazek if you think about it because the onus is on Detroit to get Mrazek under contract.
But how would it affect the Oilers expansion draft protection list? I’d leave Green available if it meant I could protect Davidson. That’s just me though.
I don’t now, what do you think? Could the Red Wings and the Oilers come together to make something happen? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks!