Last season, the Detroit Red Wings were among the league leaders in salary cap space. General manager Steve Yzerman had been frugal since joining the organization, opting to only sign role players to supplement Detroit’s young core. This offseason, though, he opened up the checkbook.
Over the summer, the Red Wings signed several free agents, including Andrew Copp, David Perron, and Ben Chiarot, who are all expected to play significant roles this season. Yzerman also acquired and quickly inked goaltender Ville Husso to a three-year deal. Clearly, this shopping spree signified Detroit’s emergence from their prolonged rebuild.
But where does this leave the Red Wings in terms of their salary cap commitments? They’ll have less cap space this season, but how much? And will this impact future spending? Let’s dig in and find out.
Red Wings Roster & Salary Cap Commitments
Before sharing a number for Detroit’s total cap hit, it’s worth diving into the composition of their roster to examine how we arrived at that amount. Below is my projected lineup for opening night:
|Tyler Bertuzzi||Dylan Larkin||Lucas Raymond|
|Jakub Vrana||Andrew Copp||David Perron|
|Elmer Soderblom||Michael Rasmussen||Filip Zadina|
|Dominik Kubalik||Pius Suter||Joe Veleno|
|Adam Erne||Oskar Sundqvist|
|Ben Chiarot||Moritz Seider||Alex Nedeljkovic|
|Olli Maatta||Filip Hronek||Ville Husso|
|Jordan Oesterle||Gustav Lindstrom|
Injured Reserve: Robby Fabbri, Mark Pysyk, Jake Walman.
As it currently stands, this roster has a total cap hit of $71,970,833 – a little more than $10 million short of the $82.5 million salary cap upper limit. There are a few things to unpack here.
First, because the Red Wings are not up against the upper limit, they do not gain additional cap space by placing Fabbri, Pysyk, and Walman on long-term injured reserve (LTIR). The Red Wings are able to add other players to the 23-man roster in place of the trio, though.
Second, there might be a change or two before opening night due to waivers and last-minute roster tinkering. For example, the Red Wings placed Givani Smith on waivers and may opt to claim a forward to replace him. Plus, there’s always a chance that additional injuries occur and players are called up from Grand Rapids.
And finally, the Red Wings will achieve some cost savings by rostering players who are still on their entry-level contracts. This includes Lucas Raymond, Moritz Seider, Elmer Soderblom, and Joe Veleno. Clearly, these players are due for hefty raises in the near future. But until then, the Red Wings can spend their money elsewhere – so long as they sufficiently earmark future cap space to fund contract extensions for the quartet.
Red Wings’ Dead Money
In addition to the contracts noted above, Detroit also has $4,180,566 of dead cap space committed to three former Red Wings: Justin Abdelkader, Frans Nielsen, and Richard Panik. The first two were bought out, while part of Panik’s cap hit was retained when he was traded to the New York Islanders.
In all, this dead money brings Detroit’s total salary cap commitments up to $76,151,389. Thus, they have $6,348,611 in cap space entering the 2022-23 season.
While $4,180,566 may seem like a lot of dead cap space, it’s really not when compared to other NHL teams. For example, the Minnesota Wild have $12,743,588 in dead cap space after buying out Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Plus, Nielsen and Panik come off the books after this season, and Abdelkader’s buyout hit will decrease to $1,055,556 for the 2023-24 campaign (and run through 2025-26).
Salary Cap Moving Forward
Even after adding a few noteworthy contracts this summer, the Red Wings are still in great shape from a salary cap perspective. In the immediate term, they’ll have plenty of cap space if they decide to bring in additional players via trade.
Detroit could also save that cap space for next offseason. Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents and are in line for significant raises. It should also be noted that Walman, Pysyk, Oskar Sundqvist, Pius Suter, Adam Erne, Olli Maatta, Jordan Oesterle, Robert Hagg, and Alex Nedeljkovic are slated to become UFAs as well, so there will be plenty of space to accommodate Larkin and Bertuzzi’s new deals.
But until then, Detroit’s cap space is an asset. Few teams have $6,348,611 sitting around in their reserves. And that’s what we call good salary cap management.
Data courtesy of CapFriendly.
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Tony Wolak is based in the Washington D.C. area and covers the Detroit Red Wings for THW. As a former junior and college hockey player, Tony has a unique perspective on Red Wings topics.