Just days after Red Wings general manager Ken Holland stated that he didn't believe he would be able to find a taker for Datsyuk's contract, he found one in 27-year-old Coyotes rookie GM John Chayka. Arizona needed to reach the salary cap floor of $54 million for next season so the club was easily able to absorb all of Datsyuk's contract. This allows the Wings to make a run at pending unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos when he hits the market on July 1.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland has been talking to other teams about possibly acquiring
On Saturday, Datsyuk made the official announcement that he will not be returning to the Red Wings next season, corroborating rumors that he will head back to his native Russia. This leaves Detroit with a $7.5 million cap hit for 2016-17, which would fit best on a team that needs to reach the salary cap floor of $52.8 million before next season. According to Datsyuk's agent Dan Milstein, the star center declined a $2 million signing bonus due last February, saving the team money but not affecting the salary cap in any way.
Just days before the Red Wings knew they'd make it to the playoffs for the 25th consecutive season, rumors -- now substantiated -- swirled that Datsyuk would bypass the final year of his contract and return to his native Russia to be with family. That may have been a distraction as The Magic Man was held pointless against the Lightning in the conference quarterfinals, an eventual series loss. Nonetheless, there's so much in the way of positives concerning Datsyuk and his career contributions to the Wings. Not only is he a two-time Stanley Cup champion and three-time All-Star, but Datsyuk is one of the craftiest two-way players the game has ever seen, having claimed the Selke Trophy three times to complement several more hardware pieces. He leaves behind a $7.5 million cap hit for 2016-17, though his agent reportedly thinks it can be traded.
Datsyuk was given a deadline of mid-June to decide on his future, and here we are. While the needle currently is pointing toward The Magic Man leaving for Russia, there are plenty of questions that need to be addressed: will he play in the KHL, or maybe retire from hockey altogether? Fans of the two-time Stanley Cup champion might also be wondering if any teams would be willing to take on the final year of his contract, which comes with a $7.5 million cap hit in 2016-17. At this point, one can only speculate what will come of Datsyuk, but it should all unfold in Saturday's address.
With eight points in seven games, Datsyuk is currently thriving in the IIHF World Championship, a competition held in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. As noted in the report, if he decides to stay in his native country, the Red Wings would be on the hook for the $7 million remaining on his three-year contract, provided Holland doesn't work out a trade.
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