We should know soon if Pavel Datsyuk will play for Detroit in 2016-17.
Red Wings GM Ken Holland expects to meet with Datsyuk early next week and the hope is that the 37-year-old forward’s decision will come soon after that, per the Detroit News. Datsyuk has one season left on his three-year, $22.5 million contract, but he’s leaning towards heading back to Russia instead.
That would put Detroit in a difficult position as his $7.5 million cap hit would be on the books regardless because he was already 35 years old when he signed. Detroit is reportedly looking to move that contract.
Another team might be willing to absorb the cap hit, especially if it would help them get to the cap floor. You don’t go far back to see examples of that as Chris Pronger‘s contract was shipped to Arizona and Marc Savard‘s deal was moved to Florida in the summer of 2015. Datsyuk’s contract would have a similar appeal because while the team acquiring him would receive a $7.5 million cap hit, they would still be able to suspend him for failure to report to training camp and consequently not have to pay him a dollar of the $5.5 million in cash he would otherwise be owed for 2016-17, per TSN’s Frank Seravalli.
If Datsyuk does decide to stay, then Detroit will have $57.7 million in cap space dedicated to 16 players, not including restricted free agents Riley Sheahan, Teemu Pulkkinen, Danny DeKeyser, Alexey Marchenko, and Petr Mrazek, per General Fanager.