Prospects Rambling: Red Wing cap hit hell hindering hot hopefuls

Mark Allan


Andreas Athanasiou is stuck in neutral without an NHL extension because the Red Wings are over the cap limit and GM Ken Holland has yet to reach agreement on a contract with his young RFA.


Just when it looked like things couldn’t worsen for the overpaid, over-the-hill and over-the-cap Red Wings, a KHL offer remains an option for lightning-fast LW Andreas Athanasiou.

With September only a tick or two away on the calendar, the 23-year-old remains without a contract after his ELC expired, as does D Robbie Russo.

Still technically listed by Dobber as a prospect (he has yet to play a full NHL campaign), Athanasiou would surely be signed by now to at least a two- or three-year bridge deal. Detroit, however, is more than $3 million over the $75-million salary cap ceiling, and is lucky to be that close after the cap rose by $2 million.

Among other problems, GM Ken Holland saddled himself with lengthy, pricy deals for now-aging and injury-prone blueliners Niklas Kronwall, 36, (two years left, $4.75M AAV) and Jonathan Ericsson (three years, $2.25M). The remaining one-season $6M cap hit of point-producing but defensively indifferent defenseman Mike Green might come off Detroit’s books as soon as the next trade deadline, but not before.

Jimmy Howard (two years, almost $5.3M) adds to the problem and Holland must soon decide what to do with his younger, also underachieving, counterpart Petr Mrazek (one year, $4M).

Ditto budding young stars Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, who each have one season left on their deals before each can expect sizable pay hikes.

In the meantime, Athanasiou’s agent says he has an offer from a KHL team. He might be using it just as a bargaining tool to get a better deal for his client, although Holland:

  1. Currently has no cap space;
  2. Must be careful because agents for RW Mantha, C Larkin, and C Riley Sheahan will springboard in a year off an Athanasiou deal.

The good news for the organization’s prospects is that Holland is highly motivated to provide opportunities for affordable young players.

The other side of that two-edged sword is that his hands are tied in the short term unless he can hypnotize/blackmail fellow NHL GMs into taking the too-costly and/or too-lengthy contracts of players such as Frans Nielsen, Darren Helm, Kronwall, Ericsson or Howard off his hands.

If he somehow could, that would open roster spots for prospects who include D Ryan Sproul, LW Evgeny Svechnikov, LW Tyler Bertuzzi, G Jared Coreau and Russo.


Ryan Sproul is one of the young Red Wings having trouble getting into Detroit's lineup due to underperforming veterans on the current roster with hard-to-trade contracts:



Don’t count on it happening soon, because Holland’s self-made roster is peppered with four forwards, five defensemen and a netminder with no-movement or no-trade clauses in their contracts.

This is a frustrating situation with no quick resolution for the team, its fans and poolies in keeper leagues with young Red Wing hopefuls who are currently roadblocked.

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Cautiously add the name Danis Zaripov to your prospect watch list.

After being banned for two years by the KHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation for using a forbidden drug, the Russian winger has a green light to pursue an NHL contract While appealing the IIHF sanction, Zaripov says he’ll submit to additional drug testing if he signs with an NHL team. He would not have been banned under NHL rules.

The Rangers and Knights are rumored to be interested after his impressive past four seasons as an assistant captain with Metallurg Magnitogorsk. The 6-0, 192-pounder, who plays both sides of center, totaled 87 goals and 227 points in 229 league games.

More impressively during those four seasons, the Chelyabinsk native compiled 47 goals and 74 points in 72 post-season games, capping them last season with 15 goals and 22 games in 18 games as he helped Metallurg reach the Gagarin Cup final.

Be wary, however, because Zaripov is 36. He could potentially return to the KHL if his appeal is successful. Adjusting to North America is no small feat. And there’s the drug thing.

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Keep coming back for details about NHL training camps starting next week.

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The DobberProspects Radio podcast now has a patreon page that you’re invited to support, which would get you entry into a CHL fantasy league. As well, Officepools offers WHL, OHL, and QMJHL fantasy league management for box pools where you pick players from a group. More details are pending after Officepools opens registration for leagues. To reserve a spot in the league or just support the show, you can do so on the patreon page.

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As if Dobber wasn’t offering enough already, watch for an impending Organizational Ranking of Prospects, with contributions from many of our writers. Check back to learn where we rank your favorite team’s up-and-comers compared to its NHL rivals.

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This is my first Ramblings column on a Wednesday since I traded my Saturday slot with Kevin LeBlanc. Dang. I’m wishing now I’d pressured him to throw in a draft pick.

Mark Allan


Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Antti Tuomisto 4.5 6.0
Aku Räty 5.8 5.0
Miko Matikka 6.5 6.5
Nathan Smith 6.2 6.0
Jan Jenik 7.2 6.5
Ilya Fedotov 6.0 3.0
Noel Nordh 6.5 7.0
Daniil But 8.5 7.5
Julian Lutz 7.0 7.5
Dylan Guenther 8.5 8.5