NHL Rumor Mill – August 11, 2018
Updates on the Red Wings and Wild in your NHL rumor mill.
LATEST RED WINGS SPECULATION
THE ATHLETIC: Craig Custance examined the implications of Dylan Larkin’s new five-year, $30.5-million contract upon the Detroit Red Wings’ salary cap. His new deal puts the Wings slightly over the $79.5-million salary-cap ceiling even after all-but-retired winger Johan Franzen ($3.95-million annual cap hit) is placed on long-term injured reserve. General manager Ken Holland estimates they’re about $1 million over the cap. Custance proposes burying Martin Frk and Luke Witkowski in the minors to make them cap compliant.
Custance also noted Holland’s concern over the healthy of captain Henrik Zetterberg, whose nagging back problems casts doubt over his ability to play in 2018-19. If Zetterberg can’t suit up, placing him and his $6.08-million cap hit on LTIR will resolve their salary-cap issues.
MLIVE.COM: Ansar Khan suggests defenseman Trevor Daley could become a trade candidate if the Red Wings are out of playoff contention come February. His no-trade clause expires 10 days prior to the Feb.25, 2019 trade deadline. Signed through 2019-20, he’d be more than a rental player for playoff contenders, which could increase his value.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly has the Wings sitting at $82.7 million for 2018-19, putting them well over the cap ceiling. They’re allowed to exceed the cap by 10 percent during the offseason but must be cap compliant when the season opens in October. They’re currently using offseason LTIR (over $3.2 million) which would explain why Holland estimated they’re about $1 million above the cap.
If Zetterberg is able to play, Frk or Witkowski are likely to be demoted to free up the necessary space with Franzen being permanently on LTIR. On the other hand, placing Zetterberg on LTIR means there’s no reason to demote anyone simply for cap reasons.
Zetterberg’s potential absence means Larkin will become the first-line center with Frans Nielsen likely moving up to second-line center. They’re expected to bring in Michael Rasmussen full time which could see him in the third-line role with Luke Glendening in the fourth-line spot.
If Rasmussen struggles during training camp and preseason, Holland might be forced to look toward free agency or the trade market. UFA options could include Daniel Winnik or Mark Letestu.
As for Daley, he could join Gustav Nyquist and perhaps Jimmy Howard as potential trade chips if the Wings are out of the playoff race by the February deadline. He won’t fetch a roster player but could land them a decent draft pick or two.
LATEST ON THE WILD
THE ATHLETIC: During a recent mailbag segment, Michael Russo was asked about Eric Staal’s future with the Minnesota Wild. The 33-year-old center will become a UFA next July. Russo said Staal and Wild GM Paul Fenton will wait until the season is underway before opening contract extension discussions. If the Wild are out of the playoff race by February, they could consider trading Staal. If they re-sign him, Russo figures it could be for around $5 million annually.
With the Wild carrying eight defensemen under contract for 2018-19, Russo was asked what might happen with Gustav Olofsson. He doesn’t consider it a risk placing him on waivers if necessary and thinks the Wild have tried to trade him.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Staal regained his form after joining the Wild as a bargain free-agent signing two years ago. His 42 goals last season marked the first time he reached the 40-goal plateau since 2008-09. It could be asking too much to expect him to do that again, but another 60-point campaign could earn him a three-year deal at $5 million annually. If the Wild decide to shop him at the deadline we can expect he’ll attract plenty of interest.