Detroit Red Wings’ Salary Cap Mirage

The Hockey Writers

With the NHL moving to an $87.7 million salary cap for the 2024-25 season, the Detroit Red Wings are projected to have $29 million in cap space this summer. That’s plenty to address their needs, right? 

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Not so fast. Most of the $29 million is already spoken for. And because of this, Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman will need to get creative when improving his roster this offseason.

Red Wings’ Cap Space Will Disappear Quickly

Chief among Yzerman’s priorities are new contracts for Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond. Detroit’s GM alluded to this a bit during his end-of-year press conference.

“It’s a bit of a puzzle,” Yzerman said when discussing his free agents, “and we have some restricted free agents we’ve got to sign, too, and some of them are going to have a significant impact on our salary cap, regardless of whether we go short or long term.”

Lucas Raymond Detroit Red Wings
How much of a payday did Lucas Raymond earn with his breakout year? (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In terms of contract length, long-term deals for both Seider and Raymond would be the optimal approach. Here are my contract projections for Seider and Raymond:

  • Moritz Seider – eight years, $8.5 million AAV [Details]
  • Lucas Raymond – eight years, $8.125 million AAV [Details]

With these contracts factored in, Detroit’s cap space drops to $12.3 million. Then when you factor in new deals for Joe Veleno and Jonatan Berggren, the Red Wings are left with less than $10 million to spend.

At this point, the Red Wings will have 17 NHLers signed – nine forwards, six defensemen, and two goalies. Add in Simon Edvinsson and Albert Johansson, and you’re left with roughly $8 million in cap space.

To be fair, $8 million can be a lot. But that’s not the case here. Even if the Red Wings bring in a couple prospects on entry-level contracts like Marco Kasper, Carter Mazur, and/or Elmer Soderblom, they still don’t have suitable top-six replacements for Patrick Kane and David Perron. You can overslot players into those roles, but there’s significant risk in doing so.

If the Red Wings want to improve upon the 2023-24 season and build a stronger roster, then something has to give. 

Related: How Much Did the Red Wings Improve in 2023-24?

Possible Salary Cap Casualties for the Red Wings

There are a few ways the Red Wings can free up cap space. Trades, buyouts, and burying players in the minors can help to varying degrees. One thing you can’t do, though, is cut a player and simply remove their cap hit from the books.

A few players come to mind as possible salary cap casualties. They’re listed alphabetically below, along with the term remaining on their contracts and their AAVs:

  • LW Robby Fabbri – One year, $4 million
  • RD Justin Holl – Two years, $3.4 million
  • G Ville Husso – One year, $4.75 million
  • LD Olli Määttä – One year, $3 million
  • RD Jeff Petry – One year, $2.34 million

Of the players listed above, Justin Holl seems like the best bet to be on the move. After signing a three-year deal last summer, the defenseman only suited up for 38 games. A trade is possible, but a buyout is more likely. The chart below outlines the cap hits that would stem from a buyout:

Decision 2024-25 2025-26 2026-27 2027-28

Buyout $1,133,333 $1,133,333 $1,133,333 $1,133,333

No Buyout $3,400,000 $3,400,000    

Buying out Holl would save money the next two seasons – it would also add to Detroit’s total cap hit the two years after.

Another player who could be on the move—this time via trade—is Robby Fabbri. A young team like the San Jose Sharks could slot him into a middle-six role and then flip him at the trade deadline if he performs well. Olli Määttä could draw interest in a similar manner as well.

Related: Top 3 Red Wings Questions Heading Into the 2024 Offseason

The Red Wings can shed salary in a variety of ways, and they have several players whose respective cap hits exceed their expected contributions. Unlike previous years, though, Yzerman may need to subtract first before he can add. 

Data courtesy of CapFriendly.

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