Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 6/25/13
Now that the Stanley Cup has been awarded, a flurry of activity is expected to grip the NHL, culminating on July 5 the first day of unrestricted free agency. Forty-eight hours (Wednesday) after the league crowned its champion, teams will be able to utilize their compliance buyouts. They'll have the option of using both, one or none of their buyouts through July 4. A good indication of which players are going to be bought out will be the NHLs waiver wire. In order to buy out a player, he must clear waivers first. This is a mere formality; no NHL team likely will claim a player off waivers and be on the hook for his entire contract when that player probably will be bought out and become a free agent. Teams can already waive players; however, if a player is put on waivers, it doesn't automatically mean he's going to be bought out. If that isn't enough excitement and confusion, the NHL Draft is Sunday in New Jersey, where all seven rounds will completed in one day. This draft could bring about a lot of wheeling and dealing as teams position themselves for a variety of options: cutting salary, acquiring free agents, obtaining or trading a player's rights before he hits free agency, trying to trade a player before using a buyout on him. It sounds somewhat complicated, but a lot of what a team is going to do is predicated on their own free agents and the needs of other teams. When it comes to the Red Wings, theyd prefer not use any of their compliance buyouts. Instead, they'd like to try to trade a player or two (Carlo Colaiacovo, Jordan Tootoo, Cory Emmerton), trade for a player's rights (Stephen Weiss) and sign some of their own pending free agents (Daniel Cleary and Damien Brunner). As far as the Wings and Val Filppula, theyre still talking. If they can't strike a deal with Filppula before the draft, the wings will try to trade his rights. They would then use Filppulas money to sign a second-line center. The Wings feel theyre set on the blue line, with seven or eight defensemen depending on what they do with Colaiacovo and have 14 forwards under contract, but there are huge health questions regarding three of their forwards. Darren Helm, Todd Bertuzzi and Mikael Samuelsson were injured most of last season, and the Wings arent sure what to expect, if anything, from them next season. There's a lot of speculation that Samuelsson is a strong buyout candidate, but the Wings are hesitant because even though hes been cleared to play, Samuelsson could protest the buyout, asserting that hes not eligible because hes injured. With 14 forwards already in the fold, the Wings could still sign Filppula, Cleary and Brunner, giving them 17 forwards under contract, which would leave zero cap space and the task of dumping players. One thing is clear: The Wings would like to have some money to spend, just in case there is a free agent they want to pursue. The Wings want to be proactive, but it appears theyll be heading into this weekends draft with a wait-and-see approach. They will decide what to do with their compliance buyouts after the draft. The Wings will likely try to unload some of their players over the weekend. They might go after the rights of another teams players -- always trying to keep the option to go after free agents July 5. Once the NHL Draft is over, we should get a truer indication of what direction the Wings will go. As it stands now, there are so many variables, its like trying to solve a puzzle with too many pieces.
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