Red Wings veteran forward Pavel Datsyuk spoke with the media today about the report from Elliote Friedman that he may return to Russia one year early, which would leave the club with a $7.5 million anchor on their cap. It wasn't exactly the most encouraging thing to read about:
Pavel Datsyuk says he's focused on present, did not definitively shoot down chance he'll leave Wings this offseason. 1 yr left, $7.5 M— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) April 4, 2016
"It's hard to say. Never know what going to happen" - Pavel Datsyuk on future.— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) April 4, 2016
This is certainly troubling for fans to hear. Pavel Datsyuk has been one of the best players every season despite his age, and decline in certain aspects of the game due to injuries he has sustained.
The biggest issue is that if Datsyuk were to leave, the Red Wings would be stuck footing the bill on his last year under contract since he signed his last extension when he was over 35 years old. So instead of having a huge $7.5 million cushion added to the cap which could be used to acquire a big-name free agent, such as Steven Stamkos, the Red Wings will remain to be shackled to dead money.
Let's be clear - It is also a possibility that Datsyuk remains in Detroit for the final year in his contract, no doubt the fans and the club would prefer it to be this way. Losing one of the best centers the team has had for over a decade. Datsyuk said he's focused on the final three games, and getting the team into the playoffs, and doesn't seem to be shedding much more light over this entire situation, which is to be expected.
Both the club and the player will meet in the offseason to hash out the details, and make a final decision. As Friedman had noted in his report on the CBC broadcast, the meaning of this rumor is to be family-related.