The Bad, the Ugly, and the Stupid Part I: Let the Buyouts Begin! (Eastern Conference)
With the 2013 NHL season coming to a close, it seems to be a good time to turn our attention to the last echo of the great lockout of 2012. We’re talking about the much lauded and never underestimated Amnesty Buyout. Each team has been awarded with two opportunities to relieve themselves of a player they simply made a mistake on while manipulating the salary cap under the now extinct collective bargaining agreement the league just reworked with the NHL Players Association this past January.
Teams will be able to use their Amnesty buyouts from 48 hours after the Stanley Cup is awarded, until July 5th, 2013. They will get a second opportunity to use their amnesty buyout in 2014 if they don’t use it now. One thing to keep in mind, only players signed before the new CBA was reached can be amnestied.
Let’s start in the Eastern Conference with some name dropping:
1) Brad Richards, New York Rangers: As the Rangers stunted playoff run came to a sudden halt at the hands of the big, bad Boston Bruins, there was much speculation that Brad Richards, and his ridiculously long and expensive contract would be the second of New York’s two buyouts. Because of the mechanism called the Cap Advantage Hit, it seems that the Rangers organization simply could not afford to keep Richards on the books. If Richards were to get injured and retire in, say 2014, the Rangers would have an escalating cap hit, ending up in a humongous and crippling $17 Million hit in 2017. However, with the departure of black and blue philosopher-coach John Tortorella, and the entrance of Alain Vigneault, Richards will have the chance to live up to the amount of zeros that are on his paycheck. It all depends on which way GM Glen Sather wants to go. If he goes the way of risk, Richards stays. If the risk calculated is too great, Broadway Brad will take his 2/3 pay and find a new team.
2) Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia Flyers: This one has to be a no-brainer. The best thing that could happen to either party would be to part ways. Peter Laviolette and Bryz were rumored to have their relationship poisoned by the cerebral net minder’s inconsistent play this season. Even though it seems that the Flyers go through goaltenders the way Spinal Tap went through drummers, a change is definitely needed in the City of Brotherly Love to get some of the magic back in the Flyers locker room. Although, it is Philadelphia. When has there ever been anything but angst in the Flyers organization.
3) Danny Briere, Philadelphia Flyers: Briere was signed to his contract to figure in a great deal of Flyers’ success. Although he has contributed good numbers at times, he has been plagued by injury and inconsistent play. The rumors of Briere being bought out have been swirling for weeks now. Considering the success of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter out on the left coast, you have to wonder how Flyers GM Paul Holmgren sleeps at night knowing that his two major contracts are on the list of potential buyouts.
4) Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins: This one SHOULD be a no brainer, but it is my strong belief that former Flyers GM Bobby Clarke has some sort of blackmail on Pens GM Ray Shero. Why else would you sign coach Dan Bylsma to a contract extension almost immediately after a completely lackluster playoff performance, part of which Fleury contributed to in a big way getting yanked against the Isles. Shero should buy Fleury out of his ridiculous contract, but I doubt it will happen, since the organization has already made the statement that Fleury will still be allowed to lose his mind starting in the Penguins net.
5) Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning: Remember when Lecavalier was one of the most feared offensive forces in the National Hockey League? Yeah, so do we. Those times are long past, however, and Vinny is seems like a shadow of his former self. His prowess has been surpassed by Steven Stamkos, among MANY MANY others, and his contract has made him completely immovable to any other team that has the cap space to take him. Tampa has the third pick in the draft, and the way it looks to be shaking down, will likely get another forward (unless Seth Jones slips). With that said, it seems Lecavalier, former superstar, may be finding new lodging near a new rink soon, the only issue is the sheer expense of this buyout as Lecavalier has 7 years and $45 million remaining on the deal (meaning his buyout would be 14 years and $30 million).
6) Tomas Kaberle, Montreal Canadiens – Despite the fact he was healthy all season long, Tomas Kaberle only suited up for 10 games for the Montreal Canadiens. Banished to the pressbox in February, he never again saw the ice in Montreal. With 1 year and $4.25 million remaining on his contract, this one is as good as done. Kaberle cleared waivers in March, so that should tell you what other teams think of this contract.
7) Mike Komisarek, Toronto Maple Leafs – Like Kaberle, Komisarek has been banished to the Leafs press box early in the year, and never did return, playing only 4 games for the big club this season. He also cleared waivers and was even sent to the AHL where he played 7 regular season games, and 6 playoff games for the Marlies, and was rotated in and out of the lineup, often a healthy scratch in the AHL. We just don’t see any way that MLSE will leave his $4.5 million cap hit on the books next season.
8) Rick DiPietro, New York Islanders – Due to a series of chronic injuries, DiPietro hasn’t played all that much in recent years. Even when he was healthy, he didn’t play very well, and the Isles ended up sending him to to the AHL. With him scheduled to earn $4.5 million per season for another 8 years, his buyout will be pretty hefty ($24 million over 16 years), still we don’t see any reason for the Isles to keep him on the payroll. Rumors are the Isles may try to trade him and get another team to buy him out.
9) Ville Leino, Buffalo Sabres: Since arriving in Buffalo after a break out 19 goal season in Philadelphia, Leino has scored exactly 10 goals across two seasons and 79 games. WOW! Do we need to say any more here? Well, I guess THIS is how Paul Holmgren sleeps at night. If Sabres fans have their way expect to see Leino on the free agent market this summer.
(Dis) Honorable Mentions, other possible buyouts – Tuomo Ruutu (Carolina Hurricanes), Anton Volchenkov (New Jersey Devils), John-Michael Liles (Toronto Maple Leafs), Jeff Schultz (Washington Capitals).
There you have a look around the Eastern Conference at some of the potential amnesty buyout candidates. You can click here to check out my buyout candidates from the Western Conference.
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