One of the most discussed portions of the tentative agreement between the NHL and NHLPA is the amnesty clause, with each team being able to cut ties with up to two players over the next two years.
The Detroit Red Wings appear to be in better shape than most teams when it comes to contracts, so the options to use this buyout are limited. One possibility would be to use it on goaltender Joey MacDonald, who is on a one-way deal this season and currently sits third on the depth chart. The signing of Jonas Gustavsson essentially put him out of a job, but at $550,000 his contract doesn’t make much of a difference in the big picture this season.
Daniel Cleary is a possible choice as well, with a $2.8 million price tag, increasing age and declining production. He has also struggled to stay healthy. Several young players in the AHL could easily provide the team with similar scoring as Cleary, but his leadership and experience would be hard to match. Drew Miller and Jan Mursak had great seasons in Europe, which likely gives them the edge to stick around.
Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson are the two oldest players on the roster, but Bertuzzi’s strong play in his time with the Wings, and the team’s desire to bring Samuelsson back on a three-year deal should eliminate them as amnesty candidates as well, barring an absolutely horrible showing this season. Johan Franzen‘s long-term deal and consistent underachieving could make him a candidate, but with Tomas Holmstrom gone he may shine on the power play.
At some point this season the team will need to hammer out an extension for goaltender Jimmy Howard, and will need to free up some money in order to do that. With limited options for amnesty right now, they may hold off until next year.