In this edition of buyout talk, let’s take a look at the possible Amnesty Buyouts that could take place in the NHL’s Western Conference.
In case you missed it, live under a rock, or are still struggling with deep rooted denial that the Great Lockout of 2012 happened, each team has been awarded 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.
I looked at the Eastern Conference yesterday, which is definitely worth a read.
For now, let’s get this Western Conference wagon ride rolling:
1) Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks: It has been a tremendously frustrating half season for the ‘Nucks netminder. He has officially lost his net to his sometimes friend Cory Schneider. He has officially come to the conclusion that his contract “sucks.” Thus, the Canucks have had serious difficulty off-loading his contract and his high-end skill to a team of his choosing. Darn those pesky no-movement clauses. TSN’s Bob McKenzie (no relation to the author) recently tweeted that the Islanders have been in talks to trade bad contracts, sending fellow buyout candidate Rick DiPietro to the Canucks, so they can save some money by buying good ole RDP out. However, it seems that the rumor mill has gone cold on that one, and Vancouver may be forced to ask Luongo to clean out his locker quickly after the buyout period begins. With other buyout candidates in David Booth, and Keith Ballard, though; and Gillis desperate to save face (And his owners’ money) here, the Canucks will do everything they can to trade Luongo first. The question, can they find a taker?
2) Sheldon Souray, Anaheim Ducks: Even though Souray has redeemed himself somewhat with his stint on the Ducks this season, he still has two years left on the contract he signed, and considering he was largely invisible in Anaheim’s opening loss to the Red Wings, and even made a healthy scratch at times, Bob Murray may want to seriously consider showing Souray the door. He’s not getting any younger.
3) David Jones, Colorado Avalanche: Jones made $4 million this season, pro-rated for the 48-game season of course. In 33 games he scored a blistering total of 3 goals, and 9 points. This was not the stats of a player who should be making that kind of money. Maybe Joe Sakic sees things differently, but I doubt Jones will ever get the chance to suit up for rookie coach Patrick Roy.
4) Martin Havlat, San Jose Sharks: Holy crap, Marty Havlat has played four seasons of largely ineffective hockey for Minnesota and San Jose. He only played in two games this post-season, and largely factored in nothing. It seems ridiculous for a player making top six forward money. Certainly Doug Wilson can find something else to do with the money saved by buying out Havlat’s ridiculous contract. Maybe he can buy the team a bag of pucks, or each player on the team could get a diamond ring out of the deal. Or maybe Wilson can spend some money to get past the second round of the playoffs.
5) Shawn Horcoff, Edmonton Oilers: Shawn Horcoff was supposed to add some veteran leadership and some stability to a team loaded with youthful exuberance. But, Horcoff has been tremendously inconsistent, only scoring 7 goals, and 12 points, over 31 games this season, while the Edmonton Oilers failed to make the post season again. Whereas Horcoff only has a couple of years left on his contract, Craig MacTavish may be looking to dismiss vets like Ales Hemsky and Horcoff to infuse his team with some ACTUAL stability and USEFUL experience.
6) James Wisniewski, Columbus Blue Jackets: In the past, the only thing that might save Wisniewski’s job is the Columbus Blue Jackets’ need to hit the cap floor. However, there is relatively new management in Ohio. John Davidson proved that he can put together a financially stable business model, while guiding his team to improve the on-ice product. He and GM Jarmo Kekalainen have already made improvements, trading for Marian Gaborik at the deadline. This leaves Jimmy boy in the dust, considering he has not lived up to his massive contract.
7) Matt Stajan, Calgary Flames: Jay Feaster has already announced that he won’t be using his buyout this summer. However with Matt Stajan sitting on the books at a $3.5 million cap hit for next season, and Stajans 5 goals, and 23 points this year he might want to reconsider. Stajan has been largely disappointing as Calgary expected a top 6 centre when they traded for him and re-signed him to the extension. He’s never really been able to live up to that expectation.
8) Dany Heatley, Minnesota Wild: This is one contract that Wild GM Chuck Fletcher would absolutely be out from under the shadow of. Heatley has 1 year and $7 million in cap hit remaining ($5 million in actual salary). Heatley had 11 goals and 21 points in 36 games for the Wild this season. That’s just not enough to justify his cap hit or his salary. The Wild are a team who project to be right up against the cap next year, and the extra wiggle room of $7 million in extra space would be huge for them. Of course the problem is that Heatley missed the end of the year with a torn labrum, and would need to be medically cleared before July 5th in order to be bought out. According to Michael Russo of the Minnesota Star-Tribune, that isn’t likely to happen.
9) Paul Gaustad, Nashville Predators: File this under “What were they thinking?” The Predators gave up a first round pick to acquire Paul Gaustad from the Sabres at the 2012 trade deadline. Then they went and re-signed him to a contract that carries with it a $3.25 million cap hit until 2015-16. Gaustad had 2 goals and 5 points in 23 games this season. No wonder Nashville finished 14th in the West this year, as that contract indicates that they were looking for way more production. Look, we like David Poile and the job he’s done in Nashville, but we really don’t understand what he sees in Paul Gaustad.
Dishonourable Mentions: Other Buyout Candidates; Steve Montador, Chicago Blackhawks; Mikael Samuelsson, Detroit Red Wings, Keith Ballard, Vancouver Canucks, David Booth, Vancouver Canucks;
There you have a look around the Western Conference at some of the potential amnesty buyout candidates. If you haven’t already, check out the buyout candidates in the Eastern Conference.
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