Possible trade targets for the Red Wings, who have money to be buyers
Detroit — The NHL Draft and free agency are ways the Red Wings can help themselves this long offseason.
But at some point later in the summer or early fall, there will be opportunities to make some trades — deals that might not cost the Red Wings as much as you’d think.
The reason is the upper limit of the salary cap will stay at $81.5 million in the new collective bargaining agreement — and will stay at $81.5 million until revenues reach $4.8 billion, which will trigger a formula to increase the cap.
But until then the Wings, using their ample cap space, have a great opportunity add players that certain teams simply cannot afford.
The Wings only have $46.2 million committed to 11 players right now, with decisions pending on 12 restricted free agents. The Wings will bring back some of those restricted free agents but still will have plenty of money to add productive, proven players from cash-strapped teams.
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Pittsburgh (15 players under contract, $13.2 million available cap space), Tampa Bay (15 players, $5.3 million cap space), St. Louis (20 players, $2.04 million cap space) and Toronto (16 players, $4.5 million cap space) are teams who will have to make deals.
With that in mind, here are some players who could interest the Wings this offseason:
►Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay, center: Johnson has a cap hit of $5 million over the next four seasons and his statistics have dropped over the last three seasons (14 goals, 31 points this season). But general manager Steve Yzerman is familiar with Johnson from his days in Tampa and at 29, Johnson would strengthen the Wings’ lineup.
►Yanni Gourde, Tampa Bay, center: With a cap hit of $5.16 million for the next five seasons, Gourde’s six-year, $31 million deal seemed generous as soon as it was signed, and it now haunts the Lightning. Gourde slumped from 25 and 22 goals in 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively, to 10 this season. He might actually thrive with a bigger role on a team like the Wings.
►Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay, center: With three more years at $4.45 million, Killorn scored a career-best 26 goals this season. But at age 30, how much better will Killorn get? The Lightning need the cap cushion to sign several important restricted free agents.
►Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh, goaltender: Jarry is only 25 and will be an RFA after making $675,000, with a career-best 20-win season and .921 save percentage. Do the Penguins keep Jarry or Matt Murray? It’s difficult to envision them keeping both.
►Matt Murray, Pittsburgh, goaltender: Another RFA who made $3.75 million this season, but at age 26 he had his poorest season with 20 wins and .899 save percentage. Murray has won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, but his play the last two seasons hasn’t inspired confidence.
►Jake Allen, St. Louis, goaltender: The situation is the same in St. Louis, where the Blues have two goals but appear to be leaning toward keeping Jordan Binnington. Allen, 29, will make $4.35 million next season then becomes an unrestricted free agent. Allen straightened out his game his season, with 12 wins in 21 starts and a career-best .927 save percentage.
►Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis, winger: The Blues can’t keep everyone and Schwartz, 28, might be expendable. He’s signed for one more season at $5.35 million and bounced back with 22 goals and 57 points. Schwartz would supply a sorely needed threat on the wing.
►Kasperi Kapanen, Toronto, winger: Signed for two more seasons at $3.2 million a year, Kapanen, 23, had 13 goals and 36 points on a Leafs roster that has no wiggle room. Kapanen might be the type of low-key acquisition that thrives with a bigger chance somewhere else.
►Andreas Johnsson, Toronto, winger: Signed for three more years at $3.4 million per, Johnsson had eight goals and 13 assists in 43 games and is another young player (25) who might benefit from a larger role.