The Detroit Red Wings pulled off their most important deal of the summer when they announced the signing of star forward Dylan Larkin to a 5 year deal worth $30.5 million. The deal however does not come without it's complications and in fact the Red Wings now find themselves facing a salary cap overage.
Currently the Red Wings are looking at a projected cap hit of over $82.5 million per season and, when you consider the fact that the National Hockey League's salary cap for the 2018 - 2019 regular season is going to be $79.5 million, that puts the Red Wings well over the limit. Now normally an overage of over $3 million would be a huge issue the Red Wings do have a way to cut away a great deal of that at the start of the season thanks to long term injured reserve.
Veteran forward Johan Franzen remains under contract with the Red Wings for two more seasons at $3.95 million per season but by all accounts his career is over and his contract will continue to be placed on long term injured reserve. That has the benefit of clearing a great deal of cap space for the Red Wings but the Red Wings will still need to make a move in order to get under the cap, or at least to get comfortably under the cap. Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland admitted as much earlier this week.
“We’re very tight,” Holland said on Friday as per The Athletic. “With this deal, we’re probably a dribble over. Not a lot, but we’re over. We’re going to have to make some decisions moving forward.”
Holland estimated the team now finds itself $1 million over where he would like to be come the start of the regular season and that can only mean one thing. The Red Wings will have to make a move of some type but that doesn't mean that they will immediately look for a trade, they do have some other options available to them.
Custance pointed to two Red Wings players that he believes Holland could potentially bury in the minors in order to clear additional cap room and although a trade is still possible this seems like the more likely option, at least to start the season. The two players Custance suggested would be candidates to be sent down are veteran forward Martin Frk and enforcer Luke Witkowski. If we are looking at these moves from purely a financial perspective I would wager that Frk will find himself as the odd man out.
Next season Frk will earn just a tiny bit over $1 million per season and that just so happens to be the number that Holland cited he needed earlier this week. If we look at Witkowski's contract on the other hand he will only earn $750,000 and not only does that fall short of what Holland needs but it also makes him an extremely valuable low cost asset for the Red Wings this season.
There have been some rumblings of a potential trade to be fair but thus far nothing concrete has really materialized.