Even though there's been no announcement made by the Red Wings regarding Pavel Datsyuk’s future, the situation keeps getting hairier by the minute. Should The Magic Man retire, two potential suitors for his contract’s cap hit, New Jersey and Carolina, have already moved on and added contracts to get them closer to the cap floor. What’s even more alarming? The asking price for taking on dead deals like Datsyuk’s is much higher than previously thought. In all likelihood, it's going to cost an arm and a leg just to shed #13's cap hit.
Just a few days ago the Florida Panthers moved Marc Savard’s contract, 1 year at a cap hit of $4,027,143, and a 2018 second round pick to the New Jersey Devils for two AHL forwards. For Red Wings fans, this trade was already a cause for concern. I'd say that second round pick has a lot more value than a guy like Tomas Jurco does right now, and keep in mind that Savard's cap hit is a little more than half of Datsyuk's too. As such, it seemed the Wings would need to relinquish a bit more than just an extra forward in exchange for cap space. And now the asking price has shifted even higher.
Earlier today the Chicago Blackhawks moved Bryan Bickell and his $4,000,000 cap hit along with Teuvo Teravainen to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for the 50th overall pick in this year’s draft and Chicago’s third round pick next year. That asking price should terrify every Red Wings fan. Teravainen is a 21 year old forward who just scored 35 points in 78 games and posted a better 5v5 CF% than Jonathan Toews - and the Hawks had to give him up just to get two draft picks back for one year of cap relief.
Yesterday Kyle posted an article summarizing Bob McKenzie’s comments about the asking price for taking on Datysuk’s contract. You can read the article here but I just want to focus in on three sentences in particular from McKenzie.
"The Detroit Red Wings, I think, want to make some big moves. They want to move Datsyuk’s contract. They’d probably love to give up a guy like Jurco or Pulkkinen in order to facilitate that.
Given the trade earlier today, I think we can all agree the Red Wings would love to get off easy and only have to pay a team an extra player like Jurco or Pulkkinen to take Datsyuk's deal. If the market asking price for dead contracts wasn’t already a bit expensive, as in the Florida-New Jersey trade, it certainly is now.
So what does a potential trade look like for the Red Wings if they still want to move Datsyuk’s contract? Well there are two fewer suitors, obviously, which is going to limit Ken Holland's options. A couple of teams like Winnipeg, Arizona, Buffalo and Calgary all have plenty of cap space but will now surely be looking for a Teravainen-type player as compensation. That means giving up someone like Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Evgeni Svechnikov, etc. just for one year of cap relief. The Wings might be able to secure a few draft picks in return for that young player, as the Hawks did, but what can you really expect to draft with late-second round picks? A great article from TSN examines the kinds of players you can expect to find at various points in the draft. In the Hawks' case, the 50th overall pick presents just a 35.2% chance at drafting a player who will play 100 NHL games. Picking somewhere in the third round brings that number as low as 23.8%. Getting back draft picks is great but even first rounders are little more than lottery tickets.
Given the current market, I don't think the Red Wings should explore any trade possibilities involving Datsyuk's contract because a superb young talent like Mantha or Athanasiou will need to be involved. The costs far outweigh the benefits; getting back draft picks hardly makes up for losing young NHL talent and what are the Wings going to do with that $7,500,000 this year that will make trading away part of the future worth it? You could always hope they land Steven Stamkos with the extra space but there are 29 other teams in the league who would jump at the chance to sign a superstar goalscorer like Stamkos - getting him to come to Detroit is far from certain, even if we have the cap space. And if that is your hope, you'd be talking about trading away NHL talent for a few lottery tickets and a chance at Steven Stamkos. I usually advocate for aggressive moves but that just seems like reckless asset management to me.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Are you still in favor of moving Datsyuk's deal, even if it means having to part ways with a young, talented player? Does a chance at signing Steven Stamkos make up for the loss, or would you rather not take the risk? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!