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Red Wings have financial flexibility

Dave Reginek/NHLI/Getty Images

No, it's not a misprint: The Detroit Red Wings have cap room, and lots of it.

The Red Wings, who have long walked a fine line near the cap's upper limit as one of the NHL's top spenders, are in a strangely unfamiliar position early this season, ranking just 18th in the league in projected cap spending around $59 million.

In large part, the Red Wings' change in cap fortune is the result of Brian Rafalski's unexpected retirement, which shaved $6 million off their payroll. General manager Ken Holland opted not to replace Rafalski's big ticket in full, perhaps because of the underwhelming nature of last summer's unrestricted free-agent market.

The Red Wings' cap payroll sits roughly $5.3 million below the $64.3 million upper limit. If they don't spend those dollars until February, that figure will translate into as much as $24 million in acquirable cap hits at the trade deadline.