Accoring to former NHLer Aaron Ward, and confirmed by TSN’s Darren Dreger, Pavel Datsyuk will hold a press conference tomorrow to announce he will not return to the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit will now look to move his contract to another team, in order to get out from under the $7.5MM cap-hit his contract will incur due to being signed after his 35th birthday.
Datsyuk has long been considering heading back to his home in Russia to play out his final hockey years in the KHL and be closer to family. The 37-year old has scored 314 goals and 918 points in his surely hall-of-fame career, winning two Stanley Cups along the way. He was awarded the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship four times, while collecting the Frank J. Selke, awarded to the league’s top defensive forward, three times.
Datsyuk’s departure will leave a hole not easily filled in the Detroit lineup, as even at his advanced age his presence on the ice was important. He scored 49 points this season, a down one by his standards, but still logged over 19 minutes a night playing against the oppositions top lines. Centres like Riley Sheahan, who recently re-signed for two seasons, and Dylan Larkin will now be relied on more heavily on game nights. Henrik Zetterberg, the last bastion of a past era of Detroit excellence will continue to lead the team, now without his longtime partner in crime.
If the Red Wings can move Datsyuk’s contract, it will give them some much needed cap relief, as the team currently sits at just over $60MM in salary for only 16 players, with notable restricted free agents Petr Mrazek and Danny DeKeyser still to sign.