As expected from yesterday’s news, Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk officially announced his retirement from the NHL today at a press conference in suburban Detroit. During the brief press conference, Pierre LeBrun tweeted that Datsyuk made the decision because of his family. Yahoo’s Nick Cotsonika tweets that Datsyuk will play in the KHL next season. Red Wings beat writer Ansar Khan tweets that the Wings will be making a statement at 2pm EST at the Joe Louis Arena.
The 38-year-old has been rumored for some time to walk away from the NHL. In April, an interview with Detroit Free Press writer Mitch Albom shed light on Datsyuk wanting to spend more time with his daughter in Russia. As written about at length by many analysts, the $7.5MM cap hit remains for the Red Wings due to Datsyuk extending his contract at the age of 35. Though the AAV was $7.5MM, Datsyuk benefitted from a front loaded contract where he made $10.5MM in 2014-2015, $7MM in 2015-2016, and was slated to make $5.5MM in 2016-2017. Datsyuk’s agent Dan Milstein pointed out, however, that Datsyuk only made $15MM in the first two years of his contract because he declined a $2MM bonus this past February. Milstein also indicated that the Red Wings would have no problem trading the contract away.
Regardless, Datsyuk’s decision puts the Red Wings in a lurch heading into the 2016-2017 season. Even if the Red Wings successfully move the contract, it will most likely include a high draft pick or prospects. Forwards Tomas Jurco and Teemu Pulkkinen were two names floated as potential trade bait. Should the Red Wings opt to take the hit, it will most certainly restrict them from trying to land any potential free agents. The Wings have been linked with Alexander Radulov, and more recently, Steven Stamkos, should he hit the market.