Detroit Red Wings: 4 Players Who Might Not Come Back After the Lockout

PJ Sapienza@@pjsapiContributor IIIOctober 23, 2012

Detroit Red Wings: 4 Players Who Might Not Come Back After the Lockout

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    Last week there were some high hopes that the NHL was close to a new agreement after the owners proposed a new deal.  Now it appears it was more of a PR move then a real offer.  The players countered with three offers, but each was rejected by the owners.

    The NHL has now cancelled games through November 1. The chances of a full season now appear to be lost and the prospects of any season are looking rather dim.

    Previously, players such as Ilya Bryzgalov and Alex Ovechkin warned that if the lockout lasted for too long, many players might not return from Europe.

    While this seemed like a posturing move for negotiations, it appears to be a legitimate option for some NHL players.  In addition to the lure of other leagues, teams will also have to face new salary cap rules. 

    As we focus on the Detroit Red Wings, which players may not return if a season is lost?

Valtteri Filppula

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    Valtteri Filppula will be a free agent after this season.  Filppula is coming off his best year and will be highly sought after in the NHL as well as overseas. 

    While he has not made any public statements about playing in Europe long term, whatever deal is reached could greatly influence his decision.  The most recent owners’ offer came with a large cut in the team’s salary cap.

    The Red Wings would be in a better position to sign Filppula under those circumstances, but they would still need to shed a few players.  

    He's scheduled to make $3.5 million this season and under the old rules, would be looking for a healthy raise next season.  While the Red Wings should have room under a new lower cap, many other teams should be able to offer much more.

    With a lower cap, the value of each player goes down.  Will Filppula stay with a lower salary?  He might be able to match or exceed that number in Europe, where he'll also be closer to home. If you can make the same amount of money but be thousands of miles closer to family, then why stay in the NHL?

    In the end, the new rules and cap will greatly affect the future of Filppula.

Damien Brunner

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    Damien Brunner was being looked at as the next great steal for the Red Wings.  The highly productive player from the Swiss-A league was looking to make his mark in the NHL this season.

    There were several other teams interested in Brunner when he signed a one-year deal with Detroit.  Like Filppula, the details of a new deal will greatly influence what Brunner’s options are.

    He's been playing with EV Zug ever since the lockout began and he already has seven goals and 22 points through 12 games.  Teams will be lining up to sign him.

Jimmy Howard

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    There is not much concern about Howard running to Europe for the long term; however, he will be a free agent after this season.  Other than the whole Curtis Joseph/Dominik Hasek debacle, the Red Wings are generally on the lower end of goalie salaries.

    Howard is set to make $2.25 million this year.  He has at least 35 wins in each of his three seasons as a starter, and it is difficult to think that the Red Wings will not re-sign him. But again, life under the new agreement will likely cause teams to make some tough choices. 

    The Wings signed Jonas Gustavvson in the offseason, who will likely be the starter if Detroit is unable to retain Howard.  

Dan Cleary

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    If the entire season is lost, then Dan Cleary will likely have played his last game as a Red Wing.  His $2.8 million salary isn't weighing down the team, but his performance has been severely underwhelming. 

    After back-to-back 20-goal seasons, he has topped 15 goals one time in the last four years. His contract will need to be jettisoned to sign younger players who will be restricted free agents, such as Brendan Smith and Gustav Nyquist.

    The team will also need to re-sign Ian White and Drew Miller, who will be a higher priority than Cleary at a much lower price tag. 


    In the end, there are too many unknowns as to what the new CBA rules will be. How low the salary cap it drops will greatly affect what teams will have to do in order to get under it.



    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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