Red Wings reportedly buy out Frans Nielsen, tap Pat Verbeek to replace Ryan Martin

Detroit News

Slowly but surely, the remaining evidence of Ken Holland’s final years as Detroit Red Wings general manager is being erased.

Center Frans Nielsen received a buyout on the final year of the six-year, $31.5 million deal he signed with the Red Wings in 2016, reported Thursday.

An additional buyout window was triggered by Detroit settling its arbitration case with forward Adam Erne, who on Sunday signed a two-year deal worth $4.2 million.

The buyout of Nielsen, 37, will earn Detroit a total of $500,000 in cap savings.

$4.25 million of the $5.25 million owed to Nielsen for the final year of his contract will be allocated to the books in 2021-22. Detroit is on the hook for half of the $1 million that remains for the following season, meaning $500,0000 will carry over into 2022-23.

Nielsen produced just 15 points over 89 games in his last two seasons, and the roster spot opened up by his departure is indeed a valuable one, despite the cap savings not being all that inspiring. The Wings are currently less than $2 million over the league’s salary floor, per CapFriendly, with only defenseman Filip Hronek left to sign.

And with Nielsen’s roster spot now available, Red Wings training camp projects to be all that more interesting.

The gauntlet has been thrown for the several young forward prospects looking to make the team on opening night, including Givani Smith and Joe Veleno, plus North American newcomers Lucas Raymond and Jonatan Berggren, the latter of whom put up 45 points in 49 games to finish seventh in Swedish Hockey League scoring last season.

It’s the second consecutive offseason that Yzerman has bought out a veteran from the Holland regime to open more spots for younger players on the roster.

Nielsen’s buyout holds less lengthy implications than Justin Abdelkader’s, who was bought out in the fifth year of his seven-year, $4.25 million deal last summer. The Red Wings will suffer $2.31 million in dead cap from the Abdelkader buyout in 2022-23 and $1.1 million, each, in the three years that follow.

Verbeek sent to the minors

For the second time in as many weeks, an assistant Red Wings general manager is headed out of Detroit.

Pat Verbeek‘s new role as general manager of the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s AHL affiliate, won’t take him from the organization, though.

The Red Wings announced Thursday that Verbeek, in his ninth season with the organization and in his third as assistant general manager, would be adding the teams’ top minor-league club to his plate of responsibilities. The move follows the departure of Ryan Martin, who left his post for a job in the New York Rangers front office a week ago.

Verbeek, 57, will now be tasked with the Griffins’ day-to-day operations, including personnel decisions, player movement and contract negotiation.

“The Griffins are a first-class organization, and Grand Rapids is a fantastic market for hockey,” Verbeek said in a statement released by the team. “Both of those factors are critical in the successful development of prospects in the American Hockey League and the ability to help them get to the next level.”

Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.

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