Detroit Red Wings: 3 of Steve Yzerman’s offseason mistakes in 2020

(Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports)
(Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Detroit Red Wings
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Not buying-out center Frans Nielsen.

The Detroit Red Wings got it right when they decided to buy-out the contract of Justin Abdelkader but made a mistake by not doing the same with a plummeting Frans Nielsen.

After the arbitration hearing occurred with Tyler Bertuzzi and a settlement was reached, the Detroit Red Wings had a two-day window to buyout Nielsen’s deal.  It’s a nifty loophole that allows teams to buy out a current player if they need to clear space after the arbitrator makes a financial decision on a restricted free agent’s new contract.

Although the Detroit Red Wings didn’t need any additional salary cap space, Yzerman should have taken this as a gift and cut ties with the struggling veteran center.

When the Detroit Red Wings signed Neilsen, it appeared to be a very nice signing for the organization that lacked depth down the middle of their lineup.  Also, the Detroit Red Wings had struggled mightily in the skills-competition (shootout) the league has settled on to determine the outcome of regular-season games.  Nielsen excelled while playing second-fiddle to John Tavares in New York.

Nielsen is historically one of the best shootout scorers of all-time.  Detroit lured the skilled center away from Long Island, rewarding him with a six-year deal that averages $5.25 million per season.  That deal currently has two years remaining on it and has become detrimental to the organization.

Since arriving in Detroit, though, all Nielsen has done is decline.  Last season over 60 games Nielsen recorded a mere nine points, scoring just four goals.  His skills have diminished, and spending that kind of money on a fourth-line center doesn’t make sense.

dark. Next. 3 prospects that could see NHL ice this season

Detroit needs to free up these roster spots for their up and coming players like Taro Hirose, Evgeny Svechnikov, Michael Rasmussen, and Joe Veleno.  Yzerman dropped the ball on this opportunity.