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Fifty Contracts
A look at the org chart prior to free agent frenzy...
By Jason Kasiorek
July 4th, 2013

As we look forward to the summer free agency season and its impact on the lineup of the Calder Cup Champions, lets take a look at the contract situation of the organization. The Griffins have several free agents on AHL only contracts, including the leadership team of Jeff Hoggan, Brennan Evans, Nathan Paetsch and Triston Grant who are all unrestricted free agents. Add to that list veteran blueliner Brent Skinner and rookies Luke Glendening and Chad Billins. Francis Pare and Jordan Pearce are UFA's and unlikely to return while Brent Raedeke does not appear to have been qualified and may join them.

According to the CBA each NHL organization must have at least 24 skaters and 3 goaltenders under contract and no more than 50 players signed. There are a couple of exceptions as junior aged players remaining with their current clubs don't count against the 50 contract limit, and if players are returned to their junior teams before playing 11 NHL games in one season, they don't count either. The NHL club normally accounts for the first 23 spots on the list with Detroit stating it will keep 2 netminders, 14 forwards and 7 defensemen.

Right now with pending free agents, the Wings have 26 NHL players slotted in:

1. Pavel Datsyuk
2. Henrick Zetterberg
3. Johan Franzen
4. Jordin Tootoo
5. Justin Abdelkader
6. Patrick Eaves
7. Gustav Nyquist - RFA - Qualified
8. Joakim Andersson - RFA - Qualified
9. Drew Miller
10. Tomas Tatar
11. Cory Emmerton
12. Mikael Samuelsson (Injured last season)
13. Darren Helm (Injured Last Season)
14. Todd Bertuzzi (Injured Last Season)
15. Valtteri Filppula - UFA (unlikely to return)
16. Damien Brunner - UFA
17. Dan Cleary - UFA

Debate which of those 17 players will squeeze into the 14 spots once the season starts, but they are all signed or have been offered contracts for next season. Filppula is probably going to sign elsewhere, but the Wings have will try to replace him with another free agent, so the number is still sound. The latest word on Cleary was he had been offered a three-year contract, and Brunner remained a work in progress. That means that if Helm, Bertuzzi and Samuelsson are all healthy, they are three players over what they will carry.

18. Niklas Kronwall
19. Kyle Quincey
20. Jonathan Ericsson
21. Dan DeKeyser
22. Jakub Kindl
23. Brendan Smith - RFA - Qualified
24. Brian Lashoff

Barring a last minute addition, the seven defensemen under contract will start the season in Detroit.

25. Jimmy Howard
26. Jonas Gustavsson

That leaves 24 spots open for players slotted for Grand Rapids and Toledo.

Depth Forwards:
27. Riley Sheahan
28. Calle Jarnkrok
29. Teemu Pulkkinen
30. Landon Ferraro
31. Louis-Marc Aubry
32. Tomas Jurco
33. Martin Frk
34. Mitchell Callahan
35. Andrej Nestrasil
36. Trevor Parkes
37. Willie Coetzee
38. Marek Tvrdon
39. Brent Raedeke - RFA - Rumored Not Qualified - UFA

With conflicting reports about Raedeke's contract status, his spot may open up a spot for Luke Glendening to be signed. It is also possible that Cory Emmerton could be placed on waivers and assigned to GR to help with the logjam in Detroit.

Depth Defensemen:
40. Xavier Ouellet
41. Ryan Sproul
42. Gleason Fournier
43. Adam Almquist
44. Max Nicastro
45. Alexei Marchenko
46. Nick Jensen
47. Richard Nedomlel

With the organization rumored to be working on AHL only contracts with Brennan Evans and Nathan Paetsch, the big question is where are all these blueliner's going to play? It is possible but improbable that one or two may be returned for an overage season of junior to help the overcrowding.

Depth Goaltenders:
48. Petr Mrazek
49. Jared Coreau
50. Thomas McCollum

It was originally reported that McCollum and Pearce were not given qualifying offers, and then at the last minute things changed and McCollum was qualified and re-signed with the organization.