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Insider

How the Red Wings build their next Stanley Cup contender

It's been nearly a decade since the Red Wings last won hockey's ultimate prize. Getting back to that level of contention may not take as long as some might think. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After a miraculous 25-season playoff streak, the Detroit Red Wings are poised to miss the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1982-83 season. With pending restricted free agent Petr Mrazek already dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers, this year's trade season might be treated as an early step in a greater long-term rebuild. If so, what other moves should be made right now and planned for the summer?

Given that the Red Wings are a non-playoff team that is jammed up against the salary cap, the prime consideration should be to clear cap space by moving players whose cap hits outstrip their expected future performance.

Since that is not always possible, Detroit must simultaneously seek out cost-effective players to help them become more competitive while such hefty contracts run their course. If they play this the right way, a return to the playoffs is not too lofty a goal in the near future.

Let's break down all the strategic components and figure out how that goal can be achieved.