Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland knows that trying to sign Marian Hossa and Johan Franzen is like trying to stuff a set of golf clubs into a carry-on, but there are ways to do it.
What if he traded forward Valtteri Filppula, which would take $3 million off the books? This would be pain for some gain, but he has another Finn, Ville Leino, ready to step in next season at one-third the price. He could also consider moving Dan Cleary, too, who has a cap hit of $2.8 million, but Cleary is more versatile, a better checker, and also has a no-trade clause.
He has to deal Group 2 free-agent forward Jiri Hudler, who is going to want $3 million a year off this year's 60-point season, up from this year's $1.15 million. And this might be a stretch, but he could buy out the last two years of 37-year-old centre Kris Draper's contract at two-thirds of the $3 million remaining and spread it over four years on the cap. What if he traded defenceman Andreas Lilja ($1.25 million) and Brett Lebda ($850,000) because he has six-foot-five Jonathan Ericsson ($900,000) and Derek Meech ($500,000) to take their places.
In every case, he would likely have to take draft picks back, not bodies, which would be tough. But they can't afford more salary. He has forwards Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader ready to play in the NHL, and another AHL defenceman Jakub Kindl very close to the jump.
"The only press conferences I'll be having this summer are to tell people which players are leaving," said Holland, who could lose Mikael Samuelsson and Tomas Kopecky to unrestricted free agent offers.
"I'm not into woe is me, though. Who's going to feel sorry for the Detroit Red Wings? We've had a great run ... we want to keep it going so we're always a playoff team."
"I'd like to win 10 Cups in a row, but it's not going to happen. You want to be standing at the door every year, banging on it, and you just have to build a program that develops and hope you have cap space," said Holland.
"What we're facing is no different than what Pittsburgh faced last summer," said Holland. "Other teams will face it (money woes) with us this summer and others will face it in the summer of 2010.
"We won the Stanley Cup last year and got a bonus when Marian Hossa decided to come to us on a one-year contract. I'm hoping to find a way to keep him in a Red Wings uniform."