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Report: Henrik Zetterberg Does Not Plan to Finish Entire Contract

The captain reportedly plans to retire sometime before his contract is up in 20-21.

Washington Capitals v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

In news that isn’t exactly shocking, but still sad to read, Henrik Zetterberg told a Swedish outlet that he is unlikely to complete the entire remainder of his comment.

The link is paywalled (and in Swedish), but Helene St. James has a few quotes from the interview:

In an interview with Sweden’s Radiosportens, Zetterberg said he “will probably not play” through the end of his contract, which runs until 20-21.

“I may have two years left, but I have also learned to take it year by year,” Zetterberg said.

The Red Wings captain will be 37 entering this NHL season, and even though he had a tremendous season last year, it would be unfair to expect him to put up similar numbers. In fact, I will have an article coming in the next day or two that examines what would be fair to expect from Zetterberg this season.

Cap Recapture

JJ has written about what would happen were Zetterberg to retire in terms of cap recapture.

If you want an in-depth understanding of how cap recapture works, that article does a fantastic job of explaining it, but I will provide the basics here.

The cap recapture penalty was built into the latest collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to keep teams from giving lengthy, heavily front-loaded contracts. Roberto Luongo’s 12 year deal was mentioned as the epitome of this type of deal, but Zetterberg’s contract was also one of the reasons for the rule.

Here is how the punishment works as JJ explains it:

For every year the player's salary exceeds his AAV, that amount of cap savings is "banked" against the team. The only way to "un-bank" this amount is for the player to play in the years where his salary drops below his cap hit. By the end of the deal, the entire banked amount will be exhausted. If the player retires early, then the banked amount will be divided by the number of seasons the player walked away from and charged against that team's cap hit for those seasons he isn't playing.

Here’s how it would affect the team if Zetterberg were to retire at some point after this upcoming season:

Summer 2018: $4.3 million against the cap through 20-21

Summer 2019: $5,083,335 against the cap through 20-21

Summer 2020: $5,083,337 against the cap for the 20-21 season.

In case people are worried about cap circumvention, the precedent was set when there was no league punishment for Daniel Alfredsson, who literally admitted to cap circumvention.

While I don’t think news should be particularly surprising, it is still hard to hear as a Red Wings fan. Anyone who is honest with him or herself has to know that the chances of Zetterberg playing through 20-21 were remote before this story broke.

Outside of the cap effects, the question remains: who will wear the C after him?