Detroit’s cap issues

Warning: I am attempting to add. 

Datsyuk 6.7, Filppula 3.0, Cleary 2.8, Zetterberg 6, Holmstrom 2.25, Draper 1.583, Maltby .750, Lidstrom 7.45, Rafalski 6.0, Stuart 3.75, Kronwall 3.0, Lilja 1.25, Lebda .650, Meech .483, Ericsson .900, Osgood 1.417, Hudler RFA, Hossa UFA, Franzen UFA, Samuelsson UFA, Kopecky UFA, Conklin UFA.

TOTAL $48.066

But need to sign 7 forwards and 1 goalie. If the goalie is Howard, add 0.717. Now: $48.783. That leaves $7.917MM left to sign seven forwards. How the h*** is that going to work? 

Option #1: Sign Hossa for…I don’t know…say $5MM (cap hit), which is about a million less than the pay cut everything thinks he’s going to get. But let’s call it $5MM. Maybe Holland does some fancy footwork and front loads the contract so the cap hit is less than the salary. That would leave just under $3MM for six forwards. Which is under $500K per guy. Which means they would have to let go not only of Franzen, but Samuelsson, Hudler and Kopecky and replace them with dirt cheap prospects at, well, league minimum salary. And this would put them exactly at the cap, which give Holland no wiggle room at all. I think Hossa is going to cost more than a $5MM cap hit, but since the Zetterberg hit is $6MM, I’m going to say it’s possible. I just don’t think even at that price they can avoid dismantling the team. So, basically, that option sucks. 

Option #2: Let Hossa walk; sign Franzen at a cap hit of $3.5MM (front loading salary, I guess). That would leave something like $4.5MM to sign six other forwards. Still tight, but doable. Sign two of Samuelsson, Kopecky and Hudler (for the sake of argument, let Hudler walk and sign the other for…less than $2MM total; again, a stretch, but doable). That would leave $2.7MM-ish for 4 forwards, which means four prospects basically. That’s possible, but just barely. Again, no wiggle room, but in this scenario, they’ve retained Franzen, Samuelsson and Kopecky (say), and lost only Hossa and Hudler. That’s a more-balanced roster. But still, it’s financially very, very tight.

Option #2a: Holland convinces Hossa to take the offer he was going to give to Franzen, $3-4MM. Then he lets Franzen walk. This will never happen. Thus the “2a” designation. 

Option #3: Trade someone away for picks and prospects, clearing some cap space. Only four names seem even remotely plausible, and two of those are borderline: Filppula, Cleary, Stuart and Kronwall. Their salaries are big enough to make a difference. Trading a forward creates a hole in the roster that you have to fill, however, so I’m going to say option #3 would require moving a defenseman. Stuart or Kronwall. Stuart, probably. Trade Stuart to someone for picks or prospects or (maybe even better), prospects who can fill those cheap forward slots.  Although that part is not as important as freeing up the salary. Then, with just shy of $11.75MM to spend, maybe they can sign both Hossa and Franzen. Still, how much would those two (combined) have to take in order for the numbers to work. Let’s say the other five forwards (Samuelsson, Kopecky, plus three faceless cheap-ass prospects) run $4MM, which is about the cheapest that’s going to happen. That leaves $7.75MM for both Hossa and Franzen. And that’s after having traded away Stuart or Kronwall. And that’s at least $2.25MM less than what the so-called conventional wisdom says those two players might sign for. So common sense says, forget it. It would literally have to be Hossa taking $5MM and Franzen taking less than $3MM. 

Is that going to happen? Oh, probably not. If Holland can deal a defenseman, free up cap space, and then talk two superstars into accepting a deep pay-cut for the privilege of playing for the Red Wings, he (Holland) deserves some kind of sparkly prize. 

Option #4: Several deals to free up even more space. But once you move beyond the option of trading away one expensive player (as per option #3), you’re twisting yourself into a pretzel just to retain two guys that might not be — probably won’t be — worth the contortions. 

Holland has to reason that he has won cups without Hossa, and will be able to do so after Hossa moves on to play on that line with Frolov and Kopitar at the beach. I think he lets Hossa walk.