Detroit Red Wings v Edmonton Oilers
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With ‘no expectations’ for Franzen or Vitale to play, Wings aren’t worried about cap situation

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At first glance, Detroit’s current financial situation isn’t good. Petr Mrazek’s recent two-year, $8 million extension pushed the payroll to nearly $78 million, well over the $73M ceiling for next season.

But there is a catch.

“Certainly we have no expectations that [Johan] Franzen and [Joe] Vitale are playing hockey this year,” GM Ken Holland said Wednesday, per MLive. “I talked to Vitale after we traded (for) him. He’s having on-going issues with concussion.

“He certainly not expecting to be in camp. I’m not expecting to see Johan Franzen on the ice.”

Vitale, acquired from Arizona as part of the Pavel Datsyuk deal at the draft, carries at $1.16 million cap hit. Franzen, who played in just two games last year while dealing with concussion issues of his own, carries a $3.95M hit.

Putting those two on long-term injured reserve would almost get Detroit right back into cap compliance. Holland can also exercise a similar option with Teemu Pulkkinen, who underwent shoulder surgery this offseason (and makes $812,500).

Thing is, cap compliance isn’t all Holland wants to accomplish.

Though he re-signed Danny DeKeyser to a big six-year, $30 million contract earlier this week, Holland still wants to add to his blue line. The Wings have a surplus of forwards, and Holland has said he’d “love to get a top-three defenseman” prior to the start of next season.

A top-three defenseman will undoubtedly cost a fair bit of money. Which means a fair bit of money would need to go the other way in return.

Detroit has reportedly spoken to Anaheim about acquiring Cam Fowler. Fowler, 24, would be a good fit — he’s got a very reasonable contract ($4 million annually through 2018), the type of money the Wings could bring aboard if they were to part with the likes of, say, Gustav Nyquist ($4.75 million through 2019).

The catch, of course, is that the asking price for defensemen is sky high. It cost the Oilers Taylor Hall to get Adam Larsson out of New Jersey, and there are teams like Boston — still desperately searching for a “transitional” defenseman — that have publicly stated the acquisition cost is steep.

So while Detroit might not be worried about its cap situation for next season, it has to be concerned about having what it takes to upgrade the defense.

Related: Blues GM says he might just keep Kevin Shattenkirk

 

Update: Red Wings put Franzen (concussion symptoms) on LTIR

Johan Franzen
AP
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DETROIT (AP) The Detroit Red Wings have put forward Johan Franzen on long-term injury reserve because of concussion-like symptoms.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland says Franzen is out indefinitely.

Franzen played on back-to-back days in October, returning to the ice for the first time in nine months. He missed 49 games last year because of a concussion and also missed much of the previous season with concussion-like symptoms.

When healthy enough to play, Franzen was a key scorer for the Red Wings. He has 187 goals and 370 points in 602 games since making his NHL debut during the 2005-06 season.

Also Thursday, Detroit sent center Andreas Athanasiou to play for the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League.

Franzen placed on IR after concussion symptoms return

David Krejci, Johan Franzen
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Johan Franzen has been placed on injured reserve, as the 35-year-old’s concussion issues have apparently returned.

From the Red Wings’ website:

Franzen, who suffered a concussion in Edmonton last Jan. 6, made it through training camp, preseason and the first two games of the regular season, has seen his symptoms return.

Franzen was supposed to play Tuesday against Tampa Bay and participated in the morning skate but did not feel well afterward and was a late scratch.

Signed through 2019-20, Franzen’s 11-year deal was intended to run until he retired, something he’s said he wants to do “on my own terms.”

Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more like those terms could be decided by matters beyond his control.

Hopefully we’re wrong about that and this is just a temporary setback, but we’ve seen how these things can go with other players.

There was more Wings injury news today, including Darren Helm taking “a little step back” after yesterday’s optimism and Luke Glendening possibly being unavailable tomorrow versus Carolina after blocking a shot Tuesday.

Out since January, Franzen (concussion) suits up for Wings

Detroit Red Wings v Edmonton Oilers
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Detroit forward Johan Franzen will play for the first time in seven months tonight when the Wings host the Penguins in exhibition action at the Joe.

Franzen, plagued by post-concussion symptoms since taking this hit from Edmonton’s Rob Klinkhammer in January, was medically cleared to return prior to training camp and has been practicing regularly over the last few weeks.

But he knows he’s pretty susceptible to another concussion.

“If I would get a really bad hit again, and I would feel the same way again, that’s probably it,” he said earlier this week, per WXYZ Detroit.

Franzen is a Red Wing to watch this season.

His lengthy deal — an 11-year, $43.5 million contract with five years left on it — has always been a bone of contention with Detroit fans, partially due to the fact the 35-year-old has had troubles staying healthy.

Franzen has missed 77 games over the last two seasons, and scored a career-low seven goals in ’14-15.

Report: Franzen cleared to play for Detroit

Johan Franzen
AP
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“The Mule” might not be put out to pasture just yet.

Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press that Johan Franzen has been cleared to play after significant struggles with head injuries.

Getting the 35-year-old forward back would be quite the bonus for Detroit, at least if he looks anything like the once-dominant force he was before injuries really derailed his career.

That’s what Franzen is aiming for, even if his comments seemed a touch on the grim side.

“I really want to play some good hockey,” Franzen said. “I haven’t been able to get in a good season in a few years. I feel like I want to end it on my own terms.”

If there’s been one unexpected benefit for hockey fans as Franzen was sidelined with concussion issues that got downright scary, it’s the sense of humor he displayed on his Instagram account.

One of the highlights of his offerings makes you wonder: maybe he’ll be revitalized by Detroit’s big change behind the bench?

Request to Jeff Blashill: banning Franzen from social media would cost you some clout with fans. Just saying.