The completion the Stanley Cup Final means teams can buy out contracts starting tonight. But that doesn’t mean general manager Steve Yzerman will rush to remove players from his roster.
The buyout period lasts until July 29.
Yzerman’s primary buyout options are Frans Nielsen and Danny Dekeyser. He could even consider Richard Panik, who was traded to Detroit in the Anthony Mantha-Jakub Vrana swap. The Caps moved him because he didn’t fit well in Washington.
But he may as well wait to see who the Seattle Kraken selects in the expansion draft before he makes a buyout decision. It’s highly unlikely that Kraken GM Ron Francis would select Dekeyser or Nielsen. However, it makes sense to delay buyout decisions to see whether Francis takes a forward or defenseman off Detroit’s roster.
The Red Wings don’t have an urgent reason to buy out anyone. Even after they re-sign their restricted free agents, the Red Wings will have ample cap space to do whatever they need to do. Depending on whether they re-sign some of their unrestricted free agents, such as Luke Glendening or Jonathan Bernier or Marc Staal, they could end up with $27 million in cap space.
Center Frans Nielsen, 37, one season, $5.25 million cap hit
The Red Wings would only receive $1 million this season in extra cap space if they buy out Nielsen. His cap hit would be $4.25 million this season and $500,000 in 2022-23. But the Red Wings might be doing Nielsen a favor by allowing him the opportunity to perhaps find a team that give him a role. He’s been a quality dressing room guy, but he has no playing role on this rebuilding team. Plus, the Red Wings need roster space to give playing time to youngsters like Joe Veleno, Givani Smith and maybe Lucas Raymond. Buying out Nielsen could create an opening for Chase Pearson.
Defenseman Danny Dekeyser, 31, one season, $5 million cap hit
Buying out Dekeyser would give Detroit $3 million in additional cap space for 2021-22. His cap hit would be $2 million this upcoming season and $1.5 million the following season. It’s clear that Dekeyser is not in Detroit’s future plans. But the Red Wings do have to consider whether they will have enough veterans on the blue line this season. If Staal doesn’t re-sign and the Red Wings and they give Dekeyser a buyout, Filip Hronek could end up the veteran on the defense. The Red Wings could possibly lose Troy Stecher in the expansion. The Red Wings’ defense could be Hronek, Moritz Seider, Dennis Cholowski, Gustav Lindstrom and two veterans to be named later. The expectation is that the Red Wings will add a couple of veteran defensemen through trades or signings. They can also give Wyatt Newpower a training camp look.
Richard Panik, 30, two seasons, $2.7 million cap hit
If the Red Wings buy out Panik, his cap hit this season would only be $483,000 this season, $1.28 million next season and $933,000 the final two seasons. But Panik can be a useful player because he can slide between the second and third lines. If they don’t need the cap space, they could keep him this season. He has some offensive skill.
Projection: Keep him.