First off, it’s about time. It was a slow, painful process, but finally a deal has been struck, in principle, and a season is just around the corner. I’ll evaluate the new CBA in more detail when all of the particulars are available, but for now I’m going to take a closer look at one of the more interesting aspects of the CBA; amnesty buyouts.
As per TSN, here’s a brief overview of what it entails…
Each team will be allowed two amnesty buyouts that can be used to terminate contracts after this season and next season. The buyouts will count against the players’ overall share in revenues, but not the team’s salary cap.
I’m not going to concern myself with the whole revenue aspect of it, because honestly as fans it doesn’t impact us in the slightest. Instead, I’m going to go through each NHL team one by one and make suggestions as to how they should utilize this provision. Hopefully these suggestions will eventually turn out to be predictions, as it should be quite obvious that I’m infinitely more capable than the average owner or GM.
The amnesty clause allows for up to two buyouts per team, therefore I will be making up to two recommendations for each franchise. Each choice will carry with it an execution date (either the end of the upcoming season or the following season) and an explanation, which may include condition factors (ie. player performance, trade availability, etc.). Anyway, on to show.
#1: Sheldon Souray – 2013 Offseason
Yes, I realize they only signed him this past summer, but sometimes a mistake can be seen a mile away. Sure, he did have 21 points in 64 games last year, but over half of those he accumulated during the first 14 games of the season. If he can reach 20 points during the shortened season, maybe keep him around, otherwise cut him loose.
#1: Chris Kelly – 2013 Offseason
None of the Bruins really fit the mold of a buyout candidate (Marc Savard can just stay on LTIR), but unfortunately one may be necessary for the team to stay under the cap for the 13/14 season. As of now they’ll have a little under $7 million to work with, but most of that will likely go to Tuukka Rask and the rest split among 4-5 players to fill out the roster. Even with an additional $4 million from Savard being on LTIR, that’s tight. Unless a trade can materialize instead, Kelly makes the most sense if payroll must be shed.
#1: Ville Leino – 2014 Offseason
Leino is the only obvious candidate on the Sabres, especially after his dreadful performance last season, but he deserves another chance as part of the problem was in trying to fit him in as a center. I’ll give him an extra look as a shortened season may not be enough time to adequately see how well he can fit in with the new crop of centers Buffalo has gathered.
#1: Matt Stajan – 2013 Offseason
Sure, he’ll only have a year remaining at $3.5 million, but he’s not worth even half of that. Just get rid of him ASAP.
#2: Michael Cammalleri – 2013 Offseason
He wasn’t awful after being acquired from Montreal and he was excellent in a previous season with Calgary, so if he can put up close to a point per game during the shortened season, keep him. That being said, his actual salary for the following season will be $7 million, a million more than his cap hit, so buying him out would be very cost effective in addition to the cap relief.
#1: Tuomo Ruutu – 2014 Offseason
At this point in time there isn’t anyone to consider buying out on the Hurricanes roster. However, they do have a lot of quality up-and-coming prospects and a handful of players that will require new contracts during the next two offseasons. If Ruutu goes into a steep decline (strangely enough he tends to alternate good seasons with bad ones, so might be a tough call to make), cut him loose.
#1: Michael Frolik – 2013 Offseason
Frolik has been a huge bust in Chicago and they’ll need every bit of cap space they can get during the 2013 offseason (as of now they’ll only have a little under $5 million to re-sign Marcus Kruger, Viktor Stalberg, Nick Leddy, and a backup goaltender). Every bit helps.
#2: Johnny Oduya – 2013 Offseason
Only if cap space is needed and other means of acquiring it have proved fruitless. Basically either Oduya or Niklas Hjalmarsson is the fifth defenseman for Chicago and neither is worth the cost associated with it. Hjalmarsson is the better player and Oduya’s contract is longer, so dump Oduya if necessary and sign a cheaper replacement.
#1: PA Parenteau – 2014 Offseason
Colorado’s contract situation looks great, with no contracts over 4 years in length, tons of cap space, and no one is grossly overpaid. Parenteau is the only real question mark. He could turn out to be a nice bargain or a huge bust. If it’s the latter, a trade would probably make more sense, but if that fails a buyout wouldn’t be out of the question.
Columbus Blue Jackets
#1: Fedor Tyutin – 2014 Offseason
Columbus has a few candidates up front, but due to a lack of talent there wouldn’t be much point in buying out Umberger or Dubinsky (if he sucks). However, they do have a relatively well-built defense and an excellent crop of prospect defensemen, so Tyutin may be the odd man out when it comes time to make greater use of Ryan Murray, David Savard, and Tim Erixon, just to name a few.
#1: Aaron Rome – 2013 Offseason
Terrible defenseman. He doesn’t make much, but his level of ineptitude should have prevented this UFA signing in the first place. Oh well.
Detroit Red Wings
#1: Johan Franzen – 2014 Offseason
After the 13/14 season he’ll be 34 years old with 6 years remaining on his contract. Will he be worth it? He deserves a two season look and his cap hit isn’t horrible, but if his play drops off considerably he’s a perfect target for the amnesty buyout.
#1: Shawn Horcoff – 2013 Offseason
Horcoff is not worth $5.5 million to anyone. Ok, maybe the Oilers could use some veteran leadership, but that’s what Ryan Smyth can do at half the cost.
#1: Scottie Upshall – 2013 Offseason
I like Upshall, I really do, but he’s been useless in Florida and the Panthers already have enough borderline 2nd/3rd line wingers as is.
#2: Filip Kuba – 2013 Offseason
I’m confused as to why the Panthers even signed Kuba to begin with. I understand it was done to replace Jason Garrison, but a full season from Dmitry Kulikov with a heavier workload would likely be enough to offset that. Also, Alex Petrovic will be on the team next season. Book it.
Los Angeles Kings
#1: Matt Greene – 2013 Offseason
Assuming the Kings re-sign Rob Scudari or sign another top 4 defenseman, Greene won’t be needed. Should be cheaper, better options available for a bottom pair defenseman.
#1: Dany Heatley – 2013 Offseason
Why? Because he flat out sucks, that’s why. Maybe he’ll build some chemistry with Zach Parise or something, I dunno. Meh, I’m using the bias card here. Just get rid of him.
#1: Scott Gomez – 2013 Offseason
No, don’t suck it up and pay him that final year, throw the fans a bone instead. Getting rid of Gomez would instantly make Marc Bergevin a hero.
#2: Tomas Kaberle – 2013 Offseason
Assuming the duct tape actually holds Andrei Markov together well enough for a shortened season. Nathan Beaulieu should be ready to take Kaberle’s place the following season, so make the fans doubly happy with a Kaberle buyout on top of the Gomez buyout.
#1: Paul Gaustad – 2014 Offseason
A perennial underachiever that somehow fools everyone into thinking he’s useful for something. Even the mighty Barry Trotz was tricked into liking him. But mark my words, once he’s played a full 82 game season, Trotz will be glad to be rid of him.
New Jersey Devils
#1: Anton Volchenkov – 2013 Offseason
His time in New Jersey has not went well, so bad in fact that during last year’s playoff run even Mark Fayne saw an average of 4 minutes more ice time per game. Diminishing tools and a bad fit means his time in New Jersey will likely be cut short.
New York Islanders
#1: Rick DiPietro – 2013 Offseason
Just bite the bullet and do it. You know you want to. Come on, I dare ya? Ahem, anyway, it would save $12 million over the long run and while the Islanders don’t particularly need the cap room at present, they may in the future. Getting this out of the way now would be a smart move, but unfortunately as we all know by now sometimes the smart move isn’t considered by the Islanders.
New York Rangers
#1: Wade Redden – 2013 Offseason
Thus buyout is all but guaranteed to occur, so I won’t bother wasting any more words on it.
#1: Craig Anderson – 2013 Offseason
Assuming they can’t trade him, of course. There is literally no need for Anderson in Ottawa. I don’t care that Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop have a combined 36 games of NHL experience, they’re both ready. Period.
#1: Ilya Bryzgalov – 2014 Offseason
There are a lot of potentials in Philly, due to an abundance of high-cost and long-term contracts, however none of them can adequately be evaluated in the short-term. Daniel Briere is just too clutch in the playoffs to part with (unless they don’t plan on making the playoffs) and Chris Pronger will likely be on LTIR, so that makes a buyout decision even harder. But with Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, and Sean Couturier all needing extensions in the 2014 offseason, it’s possible someone may have to go. If Bryzgalov doesn’t turn things around before then and a trade doesn’t materialize, this could be an option.
#2: Scott Hartnell – 2014 Offseason
Based on his production historically with the Flyers, it’s not a bad contract. However, he’ll be out of his prime years by the 2014 offseason and if a decline is noticed before then it may be wise to cut him loose. The Flyers have a solid group of 1st/2nd line wingers, so it’s possible Hartnell could be bumped down to a 3rd line role by 2014 and at that point is he worth a cap hit of $4.75 million?
#1: Derek Morris – 2013 Offseason
Well, they certainly don’t need the cap space, that’s for sure. The Coyotes likely won’t be buying anyone out, but for sake of an argument let’s say they have too many NHL defensemen to know what to do with and no room to make use of one of their awesome prospects, such as Brandon Gormley or David Rundblad. Oh, and they can’t find a trade partner. Then maybe a Morris buyout happens.
#1: Paul Martin – 2013 Offseason
Serviceable defenseman, but not worth anywhere near $5 million. If a trade can’t be found, might be forced to buy him out.
San Jose Sharks
#1: Martin Havlat – 2014 Offseason
Prediction: Often injured player misses roughly half the shortened season and the first few months of the following season. When he finally returns, he doesn’t produce enough to justify the $5 million price tag and the Sharks will be cleaning house during the 2014 offseason anyway, so they get rid of that final year on his contract.
St. Louis Blues
#1: Barret Jackman – 2014 Offseason
Won’t happen, but I had to pick someone and the Blues don’t have anyone else worth considering. The Blues do have a lot of excellent young defensemen already on the roster, so maybe Jackman will just slowly become obsolete and for some God awful reason no one trades for him.
Tampa Bay Lightning
#1: Vincent Lecavalier – 2013 Offseason
If Lecavalier doesn’t perform well enough during the shortened season to make the Lightning consider keeping him, he’ll need to at least perform well enough to make another team consider trading for him. Otherwise Tampa Bay will be stuck with a very tough decision on this one. I believe a trade can and probably will happen in this case though, but also possible the decision is put off until the 2014 offseason. As for the other potentials, Ryan Malone does just enough to justify his cost and I don’t see that changing, while Mattias Ohlund is basically done in the NHL and likely to remain on LTIR.
Toronto Maple Leafs
#1: Mike Komisarek – 2013 Offseason
Brian Burke probably doesn’t want to and he’ll only have one year remaining anyway, but the fact is Komisarek sucks and has to go. That is all.
#2: John-Michael Liles – 2014 Offseason
He’ll be given an opportunity to prove he’s worth the $3.875 million price tag, but I don’t see him doing it. He’ll lose quality ice time to Jake Gardiner and eventually Morgan Rielly, paving the way for his buyout.
#1: Keith Ballard – 2013 Offseason
He’s underused by the Canucks and I highly doubt anyone will take a chance on him at a $4.2 million cap hit, so this one is almost a no brainer.
#1: Mike Green – 2013 Offseason
Green is often injured, but at least prior to last season he still produced when he did put on the skates. Last year he was nothing short of awful for 32 games and will badly need to rectify that during the shortened season. I don’t see him producing enough to justify the over $6 million price tag, but it’s possible a trade could save him.
#2: Joel Ward – 2013 Offseason
His first regular season in Washington wasn’t good, but he was a better player in the playoffs. He’ll need to carry that over to this season in order to make himself worth the $3 million cost. It’s possible, but I’ll err on the side of caution and say he’s let go.
#1: Ondrej Pavelec – 2014 Offseason
I doubt this will be a popular choice, but Pavelec is one of the most overrated goaltenders in the entire league in my mind and he’ll do nothing to justify the contract extension he received last year. Unfortunately the Jets have no one else to turn to, so it’ll probably take until 2014 before they have someone else to hand the reins to.