Helm, Eaves, Tootoo, Gustavsson could provide cap and roster relief Wings need to start season

DETROIT – With the Detroit Red Wings less than a week away from having to submit their regular season roster, there are still many questions that need to be answered.

And all of those answers will come later in the week after the health of a few players will be re-evaluated.

The Wings are currently three players over the roster size of 26 and roughly $2.4 million over the salary cap.

Roster and cap relief could come in any combination of their current list of injured players.

It appears Darren Helm (groin/back) and Patrick Eaves (knee/ankle) are heading to long-term injured reserve.

Helm, whose cap relief would be $2.125 million, has resumed skating, but has yet to take part in practice. He has yet to be cleared for contact, though, due to his back, which has been bothering him for close to nine months.

He suffered the groin injury on Sept. 6.

Eaves, whose cap relief would be $1.2 million, will be sidelined two to four weeks with a sprained MCL and ankle that he suffered in a collision at practice last week.

“I think you have to wait a couple of weeks and see where he’s at,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said in a phone interview Monday regarding Eaves’ status.

In order to be placed on long-term injured reserve, the player must miss a minimum 10 games and 24 days.

Jordin Tootoo (bruised shoulder) will be sidelined for the remainder of the preseason according to Holland and appears likely not to be ready for the start of the regular season.

“We’re going to re-evaluate everybody late in the week, early next week or over the weekend, but certainly Eaves is going to be out for the start of the regular season,” Holland said. “Helm is out, he’s not even skating with the team. We’ll see how he feels in a few days.

“Tootoo is out at least another week, probably out for the start of the regular season, but I don’t know,” Holland added. “You have to give these things some days. You get bruised and 12 hours later you need an assessment.”

Players placed on short-term injured reserve (minimum seven days) provide no cap relief, but it does open up a roster spot.

The other player that appears heading to the long-term injured reserve list is backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who injured his groin in Saturdays’ 2-0 preseason loss to the Boston Bruins.

Gustavsson, who had groin issues last season, has a salary-cap hit of $1.5 million.

Petr Mrazek, who will backup Jimmy Howard, has a cap hit of $790,000.

“We have to put in our list on Monday so probably by Saturday I’ve got to know on three or four players,” Holland said. “Let these guys heal three or four days and then I’ll talk to our medical people, I’ll talk to the player and then we’ll start talking if they’re out for days or weeks.”

The other two injured players are Daniel Alfredsson (groin) and Jakub Kindl (hip flexor), who are both considered day-to-day.

If the Wings, who open the season at home on Oct. 2, don’t get the roster and cap relief from injuries they do have two players on the roster that are exempt from having to clear waivers to be sent to the minors – Gustav Nyquist and Danny DeKeyser.

Nyquist, who has a cap hit of $950,000, is two NHL games played away from losing that exemption.

There’s little chance DeKeyser will get sent down since the Wings view him as a major contributor along the blue line since signing him late last season out of college.

Rosters must be set by 3 p.m. on Sept. 30.

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