DETROIT – Carlo Colaiacovo simply got caught up in a numbers game.
The Detroit Red Wings placed the defenseman on unconditional waivers Wednesday with the intention to buy out the final year of his contract.
“When we signed him last September, there was no Danny DeKeyser, we weren’t sure on Jakub Kindl and we didn’t know where Brian Lashoff was,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview.
Colaiacovo, who was drafted 17th overall by Toronto in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, has one year left on a two-year deal he signed last offseason.
If he clears at noon Thursday, the Wings will use one of their two amnesty buyouts to shed his $2.5 million salary-cap hit next season.
“So know we’re at the end of the year and we’ve got Lashoff in the seven hole, he’s a young kid, and we’re trying to go ahead with some kids,” Holland said. “DeKeyser is ahead of (Colaiacovo), Kindl is ahead of him so he’s expendable.”
Teams are permitted two amnesty buyouts that can be used this summer or next summer.
They would be able to buy out a player at two-thirds of the remaining value of the contract and not have any of the salary count against the salary cap.
Colaiacovo’s actual salary is $2.85 million next season, which means the Wings will pay him roughly $1.9 million over the next two seasons.
Colaiacovo, 30, was not the top-tier defenseman the Wings were looking for last offseason, but was the best option left on free-agent market.
The Wings were in need of a top four defenseman last offseason after losing Nicklas Lidstrom (retirement) and Brad Stuart (trade) this offseason.
And the biggest concern when he signed was his health and that surfaced again this year.
Colaiacovo, who has yet to play more than 67 games in any season, played in just six regular season games after suffering a sprained left shoulder in just the second game of the lockout shortened season.
He wound up playing just six games during the regular season, recording an assist and was a minus-4.
His game seemed to pick up in the playoffs when he replaced Lashoff on the blue line, appearing in nine games. He had an assist and was a plus-3.
Detroit just re-signed restricted free agent Jakub Kindl to a four-year extension worth $9.6 million.
Kindl, 26, had four goals and nine assists in 41 games last season and was a plus-15, second only to Pavel Datsyuk (plus-21) on the team.
But in the end it was the emergence of DeKeyser and Lashoff that made Colaiacovo the odd-man out.
“Kindl got an opportunity to play and we thought he had a good season,” Holland said. “He’s 26 years of age. He had 13 points over a half season, he can play on the second power play and ultimately down the stretch and into the playoffs Kindl was in the lineup every night and Colaiacovo wasn’t.
“Lashoff got an opportunity to play, he’s 22 years of age, he played 25 straight games,” Holland added. “He’s a young player. There are some areas of his game that need to improve. He’s 6-foot-3, he played regular, he helped lead Grand Rapids to a championship and we signed him to a three-year deal at $750,000 a year. He’s a young player with a good contract.”
Detroit currently has six defensemen under contract for next season.
Brendan Smith is a restricted free agent and will get a deal done bringing the total to seven on the blue line heading to training camp.
With the buyout the Wings are in need of a veteran for Grand Rapids for insurance or they could try and swing a trade for a top four defenseman.
The Wings also have a number of defensemen coming up through the ranks, including Ryan Sproul, Xavier Oullette and Mattias Backman.