MLive’s Ansar Khan posted a list of the NHL’s top unrestricted free agents remaining on the marketplace this morning, and my answer as to which player(s) the Red Wings should sign is “none.”
The Red Wings will indeed probably have significant salary cap space left over after they re-sign Tyler Bertuzzi (via arbitration), Anthony Mantha and Dmytro Timashov, but I don’t believe that the Red Wings should sign anybody who’s left on the market as their roster is mostly full at this point.
With the salary cap not slated to rise until the 2022-2023 season at the earliest, I want to see the Wings bank away their cap space to save for a rainy day–unless a team makes it worth Detroit’s while to add on a “bad contract” in exchange for draft picks and/or prospects.
Half the NHL is facing a severe cap crunch. According to capfriendly.com, seven teams are over the $81.5 million cap and eight others have less than $4 million of space. Several aren’t even at the 23-man roster limit.
Meanwhile, the Detroit Red Wings, per capfriendly, have the most available cap space at $18.7 million. A large chunk of that will go toward contracts for restricted free agents Tyler Bertuzzi, who had his arbitration hearing Sunday, Anthony Mantha and Dmytro Timashov.
The Red Wings will still be around $8 million under the cap after those players are signed.
What will general manager Steve Yzerman do with that money?
And here is the LAST player I would sign with that money:
Andreas Athanasiou, LW, Edmonton: Fast-skating forward broke out with 30 goals in 2018-19 for the Red Wings but regressed badly last season (11 goals, 26 points in 55 games; one assist in four playoff games). He is only 26 but the Oilers set him free rather than qualify him for $3 million, despite relinquishing two second-round picks to Detroit.
Athanasiou mentally checked out on the Red Wings early in the 19-20 season, and he played like a player who “wanted out.” I didn’t like his effort, his work ethic or his attitude, and I don’t believe that he’s a mix with a Red Wings team that’s looking to establish a better work ethic this season. I’m not saying that AA is a bad player or bad person–he’s neither, and he’s in fact quite talented–but I feel that this past season proved that he’s no fit with Jeff Blashill’s Red Wings.