The Contrarian – Dats All

by Demetri Fragopoulos on June 19, 2016

Pavel Datsyuk's departure creates many possibilities, both for the Wings and for other teams.

By now you have heard that Pavel Datsyuk will be leaving the NHL and go home to be closer to his daughter. It means that the Detroit Red Wings will have some pretty big skates to fill. It also puts the Wings in a bit of a jam with regards to their cap situation.

There is a possibility that they would be able to trade his contract to a team that needs to reach the cap floor, but it would mean that the Wings would have to attach an incentive to make the deal. After all, there are other dead weight contracts that can be moved around by other teams.

If Detroit really wants to make some cap space for this coming season, they would have to give up on something, be it a prospect, pick or both.

With the assumption that Detroit would find a way to accomplish moving Datsyuk’s remaining year I found an article on mlive.com that details how Datsyuk could be replaced via free agency.

There are 12 possibilities provided (current age in brackets):

David Backes (32), Mikkel Boedker (26), Troy Brouwer (30), Loui Eriksson (30), Jiri Hudler (32), Andrew Ladd (30), Milan Lucic (28), Jamie McGinn (27), Frans Nielsen (32), Kyle Okposo (28), Eric Staal (31), and Steven Stamkos (26).

A case is made for each player, but of them four are listed as centers: Backes, Nielsen, Staal and Stamkos. I mention this because the Wings do not have much at that position, and I think it would be a necessity for them to fill.

The wingers on the list have value, but I think they can find players to play the wing within their current list of prospects, provided that they did not trade them all away to clear Datsyuk’s cap space.

I can see why the author selected each of these guys. Whether it is their leadership, physical size, grittiness, or skill level, there is a good reason to think that they could be sought to replace Datsyuk.

Yet I bristle every time I hear that Stamkos is going to Team X. Sure it is a possibility, but does it really make sense?

From a marketing perspective, I can understand why they would pay his asking price to have him be a part of their roster. But will they not be a little too short sighted?

To be fair this article is not the only one that suggests the possibility of Stamkos signing with the Red Wings. Here are ones from Helene St. James and Lyle Richardson. There are others.

All three pieces are reasonable when saying that signing Stamkos could happen. They understand what needs to be done before it can be really considered a chance. Unlike some local reporters in Toronto that have been talking as if they were privy to the contents of the Shana-plan about how the Maple Leafs will be signing Stamkos for over a year now.

The reality is that there are a lot of teams that can sign him. This article by Steve Toms of The Sportster has 12 destinations (11 if you do not include Tampa Bay). How much sense it makes for any of these teams to sign him is in the eye of the beholder.

Carolina – Sure, but they just moved Staal a few months ago, and I do not think they could afford the salary.

New Jersey – I thought they were going to build from within and not do anything drastic. Remember Kovalchuk?

Coincidentally, the Devils and Hurricanes are teams that are thought to be needing help reaching the cap floor. Why would they help Detroit out if they wanted to sign Stamkos for themselves?

Calgary – What will it say about their confidence in the development of Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett?

Nashville – They have never been shy to make a big move. However, big moves have not helped them do much in the playoffs though.

Buffalo – Very premature to think that they would be playoff contenders immediately, and the fact that they are located so close to Toronto is not that much of a selling point.

Winnipeg – Surprised to think that they would be a possibility because I do not think they could afford it.

Boston – I do not see how this could happen unless the Bruins decide to move a lot of other contracts out and then it begs the question, why Stamkos would go there? They drove too many other talented players away.

Florida – This one I can see happening. A divisional opponent and state rival thumbing their noses at the Lightning.

Montreal – That they need a center is not at issue, but I do not understand how they can fit his salary in their current cap structure.

Toronto – Unrealistic to think that after only one year that this was part of the rebuilding plan. This would be very impatient and contrary to what they have been preaching.

Other teams mentioned in other articles include Colorado, Anaheim and Vancouver. That is about half the teams in the league that are potential suitors for the services of Steven Stamkos.

If I were the Wings, I would follow what Joe Sakic said recently to the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers, “But on July 1, don’t expect us to go after any big long-term deals,” and, “outside on July 1 we’re not going to go after a big splash.”

The Red Wings’ cupboard of talent is depleted with the departure of Datsyuk but not barren. He only had one year left on his contract so succession planning should have already been commenced. If it was not what did they believe that they could do with Datsyuk in the 2016-17 season? Make a deal at the trade deadline? Resign him? Make one last playoff run and then watch him walk away into retirement.

That appeared to be the recent modus operandi of the Red Wings (see Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom and even Daniel Alfredsson). Worn out they would think long and very hard about signing an extension, but eventually they shut themselves down.

The wear and tear on Pavel Datsyuk was getting him to that point at an even quicker rate than those guys. It has been seven years since he played 80 games in a season, and only in one of those seasons did he skate in 70 or more games.

He is going back home to be with his daughter. But he is going to a place where the grind will not be as heavy on his body. That should extend his career a few more years.

That is why Pavel has said ‘Dats all’.