Detroit Red Wings: How Ken Holland Has Saved Future Seasons

PJ Sapienza@@pjsapiContributor IIIOctober 18, 2012

DETROIT - NOVEMBER 22:  General Manager, Ken Holland, of the Detroit Red Wings listens to a question during a press conference on November 22, 2005 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan.  The team was holding a press conference on the condition of player, Jiri Fischer, who collapsed when his heart stopped during a game on November 21. Fisher is listed in improved condition. (Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images)
Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

The owners have offered the players a new proposal to hopefully end the lockout.  While many details still need to be worked out, there is one item on it that plays into the Detroit Red Wings hand.

During this offseason, the team tried to sign Ryan Suter and Zach Parise.  When they failed to land either, many wanted GM Ken Holland to spend the over $10 million he had under the cap to grab some type of impact player.  When they did not end up making any big-ticket splash in free agency, many wondered why.

Sometimes, in sports, the moves a team does not make are just as impactful as the ones they do make.  One of the major components of the new proposal is a reduction in the salary cap.  The cap is currently $70.2 million.  However, the proposal wants to cut this to $59.9 million.

When the salary cap was first instituted, there was an across the board reduction in all players’ salaries.  As of now, under this proposal, there would be no such reduction.  Although, teams would have one season to get under that new number.

What this means is that teams will have to have a massive salary dump in order to get below the cap.  Half the teams in the league would be over the cap this year.  Some teams will have players become free agents which, in theory, helps them.  However, they will not be able to re-sign needed players.

The Red Wings will enter this season with a $61.4 million payroll, barely over the new proposed cap.  Now it is not perfect, and the Red Wings will face tough decisions, but they should not have to shed as much as other teams.

Next season, Jimmy Howard, Drew Miller, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith, Ian White, Jan Mursak, Gustav Nyquist, Damien Brunner, Daniel Cleary and Valtteri Filppula will all be some level of free agent.  Those contracts would clear $15.7 million and would leave them with roughly $14.7 under the new proposed cap.

Obviously, Howard and Filppula will be major needs to re-sign.  Depending on how they play this season, Smith, White and Brunner would be next in line.  One other issue is the proposal deals with young players.  This deals with when they can become free agents, as well as how their entry-level contracts work.  This could impact several younger players, including Smith.

The Minnesota Wild were thought to be the big free-agent winners this offseason after signing Parise and Suter.  Under this proposed new cap, they would enter next season less than three million under the cap, but seven players short of a full roster.

Vancouver would be $300,000 over the cap, but 10 players short.  Boston will be $2 million under, but missing seven players.  Many other teams will be facing similar issues.  These teams may still have their top couple of players, but will have to fill out the roster with some low-quality players.

Now, it is unknown if players could redo existing deals in order to give their team some relief.  However, the proposed five-year limit on contracts may make that an impossible move.

By staying so far under the current cap, Holland has allowed the team to have more wiggle room over than other teams.  This should help them maintain their place among the NHL elite teams.  The final deal may vary from what has been proposed.  By paying attention, showing self-control and knowing that the owners wanted a lower cap, Holland has positioned the Red Wings to be able to survive the cap crunch other teams will face.


PJ Sapienza is a featured columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings as well as many other sports.

You can follow him on Twitter.

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