DETROIT – With additions will come certain subtractions for the Detroit Red Wings.
Plan and simple the Wings have too many forwards and not enough roster spots to keep all of them.
When Detroit came to terms with winger Daniel Alfredsson and center Stephen Weiss on the first day of NHL free agency Friday, it pushed their number of forwards under contract to 14 for next season.
Those numbers didn’t include the two restricted free agents – Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson – who both will be signed sometime this summer to increase the Wings’ forward total to 16.
There is also a chance Detroit could still re-sign Daniel Cleary which balloons the forward number to 17.
The roster limit is 23 players which leaves room for 14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies.
There is also a huge question mark about the health of Darren Helm, who was limited to just one game last season.
He’ll test his ailing back this week in Traverse City at the Wings’ development camp.
“We obviously are going to have to move a player or two,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “I’m not sure if we’re done with free agency. Obviously, the one guy that’s out there is Dan Cleary, I continue to stay in touch with him.
“When you think about adding Steve and Alfie and Darren Helm to our team, from last year’s team, would be a tremendous, tremendous upgrade,” Holland added. “We obviously got a couple of extra players. We think we’re a work-in-progress. I’d still like to look at making a move or two, but it might take a month or two to finally shape our roster.”
If Helm is unable to start the season the Wings could place him on long-term injured reserve and thus create a roster spot there. It would also allow his $1.75 in salary to not count against the salary cap.
The list of possible players to be trimmed from the roster via trade includes Mikael Samuelsson, Justin Tootoo and Patrick Eaves.
Eaves’ game is comparable to Drew Miller, who just signed a three-year extension this summer, making him possibly expendable.
Cory Emmerton appears safe on the roster if Helm is unable to regain his pre-injury form to center the Wings’ third line.
That would more than likely move Joakim Andersson up a line and allow Emmerton to center the fourth line, like he did most of last season.
“I think we have a lot of pieces here,” Holland said. “I feel good about our nucleus. I feel good that Pavel Datsyuk re-upped for three more years. We have Pav around for four more years. We believe that we have a tremendous goaltender in Jimmy Howard, so with the addition of Alfie and Stephen, we think that we’re going to be a lot deeper up front going to Traverse City.”
If Detroit can’t trade players off its roster they could still trim them off when the regular buyout period in August begins, but two thirds of those salaries will count toward the salary cap.
Or players could be waived. If they’re unclaimed off waivers they would be assigned to Grand Rapids, but again, two thirds of the salary would count against the salary cap.
“We think our defense is a little bit under the radar, but we have a lot of kids who can skate and can pass the puck and got a year of experience under their belt,” Holland said. “We wanted to add some forwards, we wanted to add some scoring and we wanted to get deep up front. Our roster is going to take shape over the course over the next month or two.”