It’s been a few days since the Red Wings season came crashing down, so we’re all sobering up a little bit. If it’s any consolation (and yes, yes it is), the Penguins lost last night. Mellon Arena was set to be demolished later in the summer, unless rioting Montreal Canadien fans get to it first…
Anyway, much has been made about our own little midget returning to the winged wheel for next season. Be honest, we were all expecting a long, drawn-out saga, filled with ‘will he won’t he’ and KHL presidents blabbering about God knows what. But, unceremoniously, it was revealed that Jiri Hudler will be returning to play for the Detroit Red Wings after his Russian team folded and amid rumors that he hasn’t seen a dime from his massive $5M tax-free “paycheck.” Obviously, $2.8M in the hand is more than five million theoretical dollars and freezing your nuts off.
Instead, it looks like the back and forth summer story is going to be about Nicklas Lidstrom. He’s an unrestricted free agent that’s just turned forty and while much has been made about his declining play, he’s still one of the best on the planet – hands down. He’s made no secret about the fact that he’d like to return to Sweden, and the same is said of Mrs. Lidstrom, but almost everyone seems to agree that he’ll be a Red Wing once again — and that he’ll take a pay cut to do it. Jamie Samuelsson tosses a little bit of water on that fire, saying that while Lidstrom’s likely aware that his “financial value has dropped,” he also knows that he’s the team’s most valuable player.
I don’t doubt for a second that Lidstrom will return next season. In the interest of fiscal responsibility, I hope he takes a salary somewhere around 5ish million. I’d do a backflip if he comes in under that figure, but considering the $7.45M salary he’s been making — is asking a man to take a 33% pay cut a bit dramatic? I know that if you asked me to, I’d kick you in the shins.
But there will be people out there who claim that he’s “made enough money” and “shouldn’t be greedy.” I never take it as athletes being greedy — they have a (relatively) short career and have to get all the dollars they can before their bodies are used up.
We’ll have a lot more about the salary cap situation as it unfolds, but a figure to wrap your brain around right now is 12.3. The Red Wings have about 12.3 million dollars in cap space, and have 8 spots to fill. The following is a list of UFAs and RFAs (that are likely to play on the Wings this upcoming season and their 09-10 salaries), so make of it what you will. We’ll address each hole later in the summer, so this isn’t a list of who NEEDS to be re-signed…simply a list of those that aren’t for next season.
Nicklas Lidstrom (7.45)
Tomas Holmstrom (2.25)
Todd Bertuzzi (1.5)
Jason Williams (1.5)
Andreas Lilja (1.25)
Kirk Maltby (833k)
Brett Lebda (650k)
Justin Abdelkader (850k) — my bad, thanks for the catch Misopogon
Darren Helm (599k)
Drew Miller (525k)
Mattias Ritola (512k)
Patrick Eaves (500k)
Derek Meech (483k)
Photo Credit: Christian Peterson, Getty Images