Henrik Zetterberg may quit in two years, says contract was cap trickery

Henrik Zetterberg is scheduled to make $7 million in base salary in 2017-18, which is down $500,000 from the base salary he’s made in the last four seasons.

After that, it’s a slippery slope for his 12-year, $73-million contract he signed with the Detroit Red Wings in 2009. He’s scheduled to make $3.35 million in 2018-19, and then his base salary drops to $1 million for the final two years of his contract. Zetterberg will be 40 by the time it wraps up.

To the surprise of no one, Zetterberg doesn’t intend to play in the NHL during those final two seasons, because why they hell would a star player like him hang around for Tanner Glass money?

It’s just delightful to see him confirm it with such candor. From the Detroit News:

Zetterberg, who’ll turn 37 four days after the Red Wings’ season begins, told a Swedish radio station he’ll likely play two more years —although he’s signed through the 2020-21 season.

Translated from the Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet, Zetterberg said “the only reason why we wrote such a long contact was because of the payroll. It is quite obvious that you try to fool the system. Actually, I may have two years left, but I have also learned to take one year at a time. But I will probably not play until then (2020-21 season, when the contract expires).”

Bless his beautiful Swedish heart…

According to the Detroit News, the Red Wings would be on the hook for “a recapture penalty of roughly $5.5 million per the final two seasons” if Zetterberg were to follow through on this. But then they could always stick him on long-term injured reserve with a bad back or some such, thereby avoiding such a penalty as Zetterberg unofficially retires. Perhaps he could even work in the League office.

The 2020-21 season, by the way, has its share of cap circumventing contracts dying on the vine. In theory, that would have been the fourth year of Marian Hossa’s $1 million salary; it’s when Marian Gaborik’s salary drops to $3.075 million, having made $3 million more than that in the first year of that deal; and it’s when Jeff Carter’s salary drops to $2 million, as he prepares to make $6.5 million this season.

It’s also the last year of Alex Ovechkin’s contract. He’ll make $10 million in base salary at 35 years old. Good times.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.