It’s free agency day!
Mechanically, today is the first official day of the 2022-23 NHL season. Starting at Noon today, every contract that was set to expire after the 2021-22 campaign officially ends. We officially start offseason salary cap counting (10% overage allowed automatically with special dispensation for teams wanting to use offseason LTIR). Also, the first day of the season tends to be the day that all those signing bonuses come due.
Quick refresher on the restricted free agents, they can sign offer sheets starting today, but the player deadline for electing arbitration is July 17th at 5 and then teams have the option of electing arbitration with an RFA within the next 24 hours after that.
We’ll use this as an open thread. We’ll likely see a ton of signing news before noon, but nothing will be official before then. I’ll get into the Red Wings picture below, but first a reminder on threads like this:
Please make sure you vet a source before sharing it and please make sure you share the source of the news you’ve found via a link to a tweet or story. Be wary of unverified accounts pretending to be insiders and spreading fake stuff. It gets people every year.
Ok onto the WIngs:
Detroit chose only to give qualifying offers to Filip Zadina, Chase Pearson and Jake Walman, allowing Mitchell Stephens, Olli Juolevi, Kaden Fulcher and Filip Larsson to become unrestricted free agents.
Zadina is coming off his ELC and is one year shy of arbitration eligibility. His qualifying offer had to be at least $874,125 (according to Capfriendly’s calculator) Obviously he hasn’t signed that yet or we’d have heard of it, but he’s going to be able to ask for more than that, but he’s going to have to sign for value based on his production.
Chase Pearson is arbitration eligible and coming off a one-year extension after his initial ELC expired. He’s three years shy of being able to be an unrestricted free agent and by this age, he’s likely to be brought back as a good veteran for Grand Rapids who may get a late-season cup of coffee or an emergency injury callup. He’s probably looking at league minimum.
Walman is 26, arbitration eligible and incapable of signing another contract that would prevent him from becoming a UFA afterwards. We got him from St. Louis and I personally like him. He’ll likely get better than league minimum, but not a huge raise.
Teams can sign a player to an extension in the last year of his multi-year contract as early as day one. This leaves Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Pius Suter, Oskar Sundqvist, Adam Erne, Jordan Oesterle, Gustav Lindstrom, Joe Veleno (RFA) and Alex Nedeljkovic.
There are a few other Griffins who can extend beyond their RFAs other than Veleno, but it would be weird to extend those kids in July.
Lots of discussion has gone around about the Wings wanting to lock Larkin up long-term. We’ll see if that happens.
So the folks set to walk into free agency who haven’t already been listed as non-qualified RFAs are:
I’d be ok with Gagner or Staal returning. I won’t miss any of them if Detroit moves on entirely from the whole list.
Cap Space/Roster Status:
In general, teams will carry either 14 forwards, 8 defensemen and two goalies or go 13/9 on the roster. Occasionally you’ll see a third goalie taking up space but there’s no reason to believe Detroit will be doing that with the Nedeljkovic/Husso pairing.
For forwards, the Wings have eleven returning roster regulars and a decent expectation that Jonatan Berggren could be moving up along with shots for guys like Elmer Soderblom or the recently-signed Pontus Andreasson to compete. Robby Fabbri’s return from injury will happen when it happens.
On defense, Detroit will return just four guys: Moritz Seider, Filip Hronek, Jordan Oesterle, and Gustav Lindstrom. We can’t wait for Simon Edvinsson to move up. Donovan Sebrango and Jared McIsaac spent significant time in GR last year.
With all of those players and with retained salary (Richard Panik) and remaining buyouts (Frans Nielsen and Justin Abdelkader), the Wings have a cap expenditure of $51.6M
That’s seven roster spots and $30.8M in space to the cap (with about $10M in required expenditures to get to the floor).
With all that space, the Wings have a lot of opportunity to improve and a number of pitfalls to avoid for a team that should be spending more than they have been lately but shouldn’t be locking in too long-term for folks who won’t still be competitive when the Wings are truly ready to contend.
Detroit needs at least another center and a lot of help on defense.
It doesn’t all have to happen today and it doesn’t have to be free agent signings. The festivities start at Noon. Enjoy!