Hello my cyber-friends!
It’s been a while since I last showed up for work. Let’s just say I engaged in one massively long pants party and leave it at that.
With the NHL’s annual trade deadline over and done with, General Managers will start evaluating their rosters and looking towards next season. In the past, GM’s have looked at July 1st as a huge opportunity to bolster their rosters and improve their squad. In recent years, teams like the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks certainly seem to have done that.
However, given the bleak economic outlook both north and south of the border for the foreseeable future, there is a certainty that league revenue will drop next season. Everything is pointing to the unavoidable fact that the NHL’s salary cap will definitely drop in the 2010-2011 season. And it could be a significant drop too.
I really think that we’ll see a flood of buyouts this summer because some teams have way too much money committed to their rosters for next season and for seasons beyond. For example, the Philadelphia Flyers already have $54.8 Million signed for next season, and they still haven’t signed impending UFA’s Mike Knuble, Martin Biron and Antero Niittymaki. Essentially, they’ve got no goalies signed for next year right now and a few holes in their defense too. Something has to give – Especially if their goaltending can’t carry them deep into the playoffs this year.
The New York Rangers have a similar problem with $42 Million committed for only 14 players for next season. Here are Rangers whose contracts will expire at the end of this season: Antropov, Morris, Valiquette, Mara, Rissmiller, Betts, Dubinsky, Korpikoski, Calahan and Zherdev, to name a few. The Islanders would kill to have a team this good! Anyway, assuming the salary cap doesn’t increase next season, that leaves the Rangers with approximately $14-15 Million to sign a back-up goalie, 4-5 top 9 forwards and 2 defenseman to play in their top 4. I’m also assuming the Rangers spend up to the league maximum. Good luck with that.
Here is a list of players who I think are very likely to be bought out this summer. It’s worth noting that many of the players below are great players and would be a great addition to many teams in the NHL. The problem is that with an uncertain economy, there’s virtually no chance of these players getting traded… unless a similar salary is traded the other way but that doesn’t solve anything. Teams that are overspent will be at the mercy of the smaller market teams that haven’t won the recent UFA sweep-steaks. I bet the Minnesota Wild are very grateful that Marian Gaborik turned down their 8 year, $88 Million contract offer earlier this year! Ditto for Senator and Thrasher fans who saw Brian Campbell reject 7 and 8 year contracts worth over $8 Million per season, respectively. It’s also worth noting that teams could just demote these players to the minors (like San Jose did with Kyle McLaren all year) and not have their salaries count against their cap. However, the teams are still on the hook to pay the full salary. Go ask Pittsburgh, as Miro Satan is still making $3.75M to ride the bus in the AHL. Owners don’t really want to pay these kinds of salaries for zero benefit and besides, it doesn’t exactly look good for a team when it just sends its players down the AHL because they struggle with basic math.
Players very likely destined for buyouts this summer:
Dustin Penner – Edmonton Oilers – 3 Years, $12.75M Remaining
Tom Preissing – Los Angeles Kings – 2 Years, $5.5M Remaining
Shean Donovan – Ottawa Senators – 1 Year, $0.6M Remaining
Mike Rathje – Philadelphia Flyers – 1 Year, $3.5M Remaining
Radim Vrbata – Tampa Bay Lightning – 2 Years, $6M Remaining
Mikael Nylander – Washington Capitals – 2 Years, $8.5M Remaining
Players potentially destined for buyouts this summer (less likely):
Jonathan Cheechoo – San Jose Sharks – 2 Years, $7M Remaining
Jason Blake – Toronto Maple Leafs – 3 Years, $10.5M Remaining
Daniel Briere – Philadelphia Flyers – 6 Years, $34M Remaining
Ryan Smyth – Colorado Avalanche – 3 Years, $16.5M Remaining
What are your thoughts on this? Will we see more buyouts than ever this summer or have I been spending too much time playing with James Westfall and Dr. Kenneth Nosewater? You tell me.
Your reporter in the field,
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