Pavel Datsyuk said he wants to make his departure from the NHL as easy as possible for everyone involved, but that might not be limited to those in the Detroit Red Wings’ front office.
According to Sport-Express.ru’s Igor Eronko, SKA president Gennady Timchenko has said the club has already begun negotiations for a deal with Datsyuk, and said he believes St. Petersburg has “a good chance to sign (Datsyuk).” Timchenko’s confidence in signing Datsyuk comes shortly after his agent, Dan Milstein, had to shoot down a report that the veteran center had signed a two-year deal with SKA.
When reports of the contract with SKA surfaced, Milstein told The Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan that it was “inaccurate,” and Milstein added that neither he nor Datsyuk had spoken to any teams or any media about the current Red Wings’ future. Milstein has reiterated that numerous times, but reports continue to surface that Datsyuk has at least started potential contract negotiations.
Milstein and Datsyuk have both said that he hasn’t come to a final decision and still plans to meet with the Red Wings in early to mid-June, but Milstein’s comments Sunday make it appear as though Datsyuk may have already made up his mind. Milstein told the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James that Datsyuk “would like to leave, but at the same time, he wants to make sure the Wings have options.” For the most part, those options include finding a way to get Datsyuk’s $7.5-million cap hit off the books for next season. Because the deal was signed past Datsyuk’s 35th birthday, the full amount counts against the cap even in the event of Datsyuk retiring.
And though there’s been no final decision from Datsyuk, Red Wings GM Ken Holland doesn’t seem very optimistic about the chances of the Russian center returning for one more season in Detroit. Holland told THN’s Ken Campbell that Datsyuk understands the difficulties with the salary cap, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the ‘Magic Man’ will return and honor the final season of his three-year, $22.5-million deal.
“I’m hoping he walks into my office and says, ‘Ken, I want to honor the last year of my contract,’ ” Holland told Campbell. “Am I expecting to hear that? No. Would I be surprised if he said that? Yes.”
Of course, nothing is final until Datsyuk gives the official word, but all signs point to him departing the NHL in June. At that point, Holland is likely to attempt to find a trade partner to move out the $7.5-million cap hit to give the Red Wings some added cap flexibility to try and replace what they’ve lost in Datsyuk.