The latest proposal sent by the NHL to the NHLPA over the holiday break included among other concessions a contract length restriction, salary variances, and CBA length but it also included a provision where teams could buy out a player’s contract prior to the 2013-14 season in order to be compliant with the new salary cap. These compliance buyouts would not count against the team’s salary cap and the players would end up as a free agent.
We’re sure these GM conversations are happening right now so we’re having a bit of fun with it, too. Let’s pretend that we can buy out any one player from any team and his contract (including NTC, NMC, and 35+) is essentially wiped from the books, who would you buy out? Our best guesses are below:
Anaheim Ducks – Sheldon Souray – 3 yrs @ $3.67M
At just over $55-million with 7 pending UFAs, the Ducks aren’t in a ton of trouble for 2012-13. If we had to choose one, however, it would have to be Souray. At 36 years old and 3 years to go, this contract was trouble the minute it was offered. Albeit a thin defensive UFA market and a hole to fill on D, the Ducks should worry more about their upcoming rebuilding effort than signing an aging veteran.
Boston Bruins – Tim Thomas – 1 yr @ $5M
Will he play or won’t he play? Let the circus end and hand the reigns to Tuuka Rask. The other candidate would be Marc Savard who is still reporting a slow recovery from his concussions. However, Savard may be a better candidate for retirement than a buyout.
Buffalo Sabres – Ville Leino – 5 yrs @ $4.5M
A payroll of $75-million puts the Sabres in immediate cap trouble. The best remedy? Understand that Leino’s 53 points with the Flyers was an anomaly and send him packing. Vanek’s 61 points on his $7.1M contract are much more livable.
Calgary Flames – Alex Tanguay – 4 yrs @ $3.5M
The Flames are a real tough one. Immediately I’d say Cammalleri but he likely isn’t going anywhere after being traded for Rene Bourque. Bouwmeester is still useful – at the very least for trade bait – and I actually like Wideman (but ask me again in 4 years). Stajan has never lived up to that number 1 center potential but he’s actually being paid less than his salary cap hit – something a rebuilding club might want to keep around. Tanguay’s inconsistency and Hudler’s arrival (ugh.) leave him as the odd man out.
Carolina Hurricanes – Brian Boucher – 1 yr @ $.95M
After just retooling themselves into a capable contender, the Canes are actually dealing with some very beneficial contracts – albeit some of them long-term. Only because we have to pick someone, Boucher’s mediocre stats and Justin Peters’ readiness sheds another million off the cap.
Chicago Blackhawks – Marian Hossa – 8 yrs @ $5.27M
After being in serious trouble after winning the Cup, the Hawks have managed to cut a lot of their excess cap hits. They brought Hossa in to win the Cup, and they won it. Now there are injury and age red flags and with all their youth, this cap hit can’t be looming when Hossa is well past his prime.
Colorado Avalanche – Milan Hejduk – 1 yr @ $2M
Another team in good cap position with a $50-million payroll. If we’re choosing anyone, we’re going safe with Milan Hejduk. Stastny is another candidate but everyone is still hoping he finds his scoring prowess again. Hejduk has taken a backseat to the youngsters this past season and wouldn’t be expected to produce at his former consistency again.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Adrian Aucoin – 1 yr @ 2.5M
Can you re-buyout Mike Commodore? Not likely. The Blue Jackets could get cheaper just cutting Wisniewski but if you’re going to pay that guy, you might as well play him as he may have trade value in a couple season. Aucoin is 39 years old and just signed with the Jackets after posting 9 points in 64 games with the Coyotes. Let’s just chalk this up as another Scott Howson mistake and let Aucoin play this year out on the couch.
Dallas Stars – Stephane Robidas – 2 yrs @ $3.3M
The Stars have loaded up with a number of high-priced, one year contracts and don’t really need to move anyone in order to make payroll. Robidas’ skills are declining and he is getting up there in age with a decent cap hit so he’s our pick if we have to choose anyone.
Detroit Red Wings – Todd Bertuzzi – 2 yrs @ $2M
The Wings have a number of high-priced mid-tier veterans but the only one who stands out the most to me is Bertuzzi’s $2M. As inconsistent and soft as it gets, Bertuzzi is well past his prime and does little to complement his highly skilled line mates.
Edmonton Oilers – Shawn Horcoff – 2 yrs @ $5.5M
Too bad the buyout couldn’t have happened a few years back. Both Horcoff and Nikolai Khabibulin would be the buyout candidates but with the amount of youth cramming the Oilers’ top-six, Captain Horcoff’s $5.5M is the top candidate to be cut. Fortunately, he is owed less than his cap hit.
Florida Panthers – Ed Jovanovski – 3 yrs @ 4.1M
The surprise Panthers were criticized for collecting too many high priced veterans but the results certainly paid off. However, save me from a 39-year old Jovo with his $4.1M cap hit and I will thank you dearly.
Los Angeles Kings – Jeff Carter – 10 yrs @ 5.27M
With the majority of this contract still to be paid, it’s difficult to fast forward 10 years and imagine this cap hit being worth it for the Kings (besides the obvious 2012 Stanley Cup argument). That said, they didn’t acquire Carter’s contract just to cut him the season after, despite his inability to hit 30 goals. A smart GM may say Simon Gagne’s one year deal is better off the books.
Minnesota Wild – Pierre-Marc Bouchard – 1 yr @ $4M
PMB hasn’t put together a relatively injury free season since 2008-09 – the year he signed this deal. Heatley would be another candidate but actually makes less than his cap hit. Getting PMB off the books frees up the Wild’s ability to pay their new high priced UFA acquisitions.
Montreal Canadiens – Scott Gomez – 2 yrs @ $7.36M
Maybe the most obvious buyout on this list. Gomez has never lived up to his massive contract.
Nashville Predators – Hal Gill – 2 yrs @ $2M
A team built with very similar players on very similar contracts, it’s tough to find anyone on the Preds. If we’re choosing anybody, we’re having 37-year old Hal Gill make way for the young D-men making their way into the roster.
New Jersey Devils – Bryce Salvador – 3 yrs @ $3.2M
After being in such cap turmoil after the Kovalchuk deal, the Devils have certainly righted the ship. With a team so reliant on stout defense, it’s difficult to cut a shutdown D but Bryce Salvador’s new contract could be harmful in the long run.
New York Islanders – Rick DiPietro – 9 yrs @ $4.5M
Finally an excuse to get DiPietro’s injury woes and sub-par play off the team.
New York Rangers – Wade Redden – 2 yrs @ $6.5M
Known for their massive, regrettable contracts – the Rangers have actually been good at trading them away in recent years. Redden is the only dead weight contract on the team and is playing out his contract while stuck in the AHL. Cutting him wouldn’t help the books but it would at least free up the burden of an overpriced player playing in the AHL.
Ottawa Senators – Sergei Gonchar – 1 yr @ $5.5M
Only because we have to pick someone – but we don’t like it. Craig Anderson could be another likely candidate if they feel that Bishop and Lehner are ready to step up.
Philadelphia Flyers – Chris Pronger – 5 yrs @ $4.9M
Geez. Where do you start on this team? Bryzgalov significantly underperformed in his first year of his contract and Briere has always been at the root of trade rumours but you have to circle Prongers contract as the most likely candidate. Pronger still could have a couple good years in him but his post-concussion symptoms are still lingering. Even if Pronger retires, the Flyers will need to pay his salary and this new CBA is meant to penalize teams who have signed those contracts.
Phoenix Coyotes – Raffi Torres – 1 yr @ $1.75M
Another well-put together team, the Coyotes are unlikely to make any buyouts. However, if we are picking someone, Raffi Torres and the headache that another large suspension might cause would be first to go.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Paul Martin – 3 yrs @ $5M
Could you say Paul Martin loud enough, Pens fans? Martin’s hefty cap hit greatly overshadows Letang’s but the latter is certainly racking up much better numbers. With so many other high priced contracts, Martin’s salary is certainly expendable.
San Jose Sharks – Michal Handzus – 1 yr @ $2.5M
Is it time to blow up the core? The Sharks likely have another run or two in them with Thornton and Marleau at the helm so any major shakeup up front is really inadvisable. Handzus is actually pretty well valued but we needed someone.
St. Louis Blues – Alex Steen – 2 yrs @ $3.36M
Built much like the Preds, the Blues have a lot of decent players making decent money. Steen is the real red flag under achiever here on the last year of his contract where he potted more than 50 points just once. The Blues will need to pay some of the youngsters next season so freeing up that cap space would be a nice luxury.
Tampa Bay Lightning – Ryan Malone – 3 yrs @ $4.5M
Not Lecavalier? Vinny’s contract is actually structured so he will make less than his cap hit (after 4 more years @ $10M) so that is advantageous to the money starved Lightning. Malone’s is actually structured that way too but his money off the books in the short term will work out in the Lightning’s favour.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Mike Komisarek – 2 yrs @ $4.5M
With 6 expiring UFA contracts, the Leafs have been in worse shape. Komisarek at least frees up some room to bring in some help in the offseason. If I was going risky, Dion would be cut but I just can’t see the Leafs cutting their Captain.
Vancouver Canucks – Roberto Luongo – 10 yrs @ $5.3M
At this point, we’re assuming Luongo’s trade value has soured among the GMs fearing taking on anymore long-term deals unless one bold GM wants to take this massive deal on. If not, the Canucks have clearly moved in favour of Schneider and getting Luongo off the team as fast as possible is their best course of action.
Washington Capitals – Mike Green – 3 yrs @ $6M
I don’t think Green’s injuries are behind him. It’s unlikely the Caps will give up on him this early but if he puts up three more years just like the last two, he won’t be a popular guy in Washington.
Winnipeg Jets – Alexei Ponikarovsky – 1 yr @ $1.6M
Another tough team to choose someone. Ron Hainsey’s contract stands out if they need to cut payroll fast but Poni is the player I could do without. Again, a stretch because he just signed the deal but we’re cutting only because we have to.
All cap figures have been provided by CapGeek.com.