Red Wings: Should Frans Nielsen’s Contract be Bought Out?

Much has been written about Detroit Red Wings forward Frans Nielsen and whether or not he’s played his final season in Hockeytown. From a financial standpoint, his $5.25M AAV contract hasn’t affected the cap as it did in years past, but the argument of buying him out makes sense

Here’s a look at arguments supporting and arguing against the buyout.

How a Buyout Helps the Red Wings

For starters, they get a million dollar’s worth of relief in the 2021-22 season and then are only responsible for $500k the following season. That’s a chunk of change to save ($4.75M to be exact)

The key reason to buy out the contract–beyond a financial argument–is the opening of a roster spot for a younger player. Nielsen is well respected in the locker room, lauded for his attitude and having that important veteran presence. But the results on the ice have been lacking for several seasons now when compared to the price tag of his contract.

From the perspective of saving money and opening up a roster spot, it certainly makes sense to buy the deal out.

How Waiting a Season Makes Sense

It seems unlikely that Yzerman is going to spend up to the cap limit. Carefully signing players to short term deals, one final season of Nielsen on the roster wouldn’t cripple Detroit financially. The aforementioned veteran presence doesn’t hurt either, but that presence also includes Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Jakub Vrana just to name a few.

Though the need isn’t pressing, knowing that Nielsen was a healthy scratch before being shelved for the season in mid April almost makes the decision a foregone conclusion.

What’s the Red Wings’ Best Move?

The Red Wings desperately need to rotate some of the veterans out who, though being good soldiers, are just slotting into roster spots at this point. Nielsen, fairly or not, falls into this category. Yzerman bought Justin Abdelkader out last offseason, a move that surprised some but when the Captain explained his reasoning, made perfect sense–they weren’t getting the value they desired.

Nielsen falls into the same category. Though other veterans are seeing their deals expire and will most likely be allowed to seek opportunities elsewhere (Darren Helm, Valtteri Filppula), Nielsen’s contract is one of the finales from an era where overspending on decent yet not great players was the norm.

Nielsen was signed to fill the void left by Pavel Datsyuk‘s retirement, and truthfully, it never happened. Though there were some decent performances, the cost never met the expectations and as production has decreased steadily with every passing season, it seems that the time has come to move forward without him. With it only being a  $500k hit, it seems the decision has almost made itself.

Nielsen had some nice moments in Detroit. But it’s time to move on.