One of the most interesting results of the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) will be the number of buyouts that NHL teams have to eliminate burdensome salary cap hits from their payroll and avoid future cap troubles.
Another detail emerging: NHL has upped its compliance buyout offer to 2 per team, up from 1 prior to 2013-14 season.— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) January 3, 2013
Nothing is done in cba until everything is done, but NHLPA agreed that buyouts before 2013-14 season, will count against players share.— Renaud Lavoie (@RenLavoieRDS) January 3, 2013
Players who are bought out would go straight to free agency. The reason why teams would want to buy out players with large cap hits is because the salary cap will be decreased in the second year of the next CBA, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.
2nd yr cap still a hot topic. Players looking for $65 mil, NHL stuck on $60 mil. Pension experts will join talks today to deal with issues.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 3, 2013
Let's look at 16 players who could be bought out before the 2013-14 season begins.
Scott Gomez, Montreal Canadiens
Let's discuss the most obvious buyout candidate first.
The Montreal Canadiens will almost certainly be quick to buy out Scott Gomez's contract when possible because 19 goals over the last three years isn't the offensive production expected from a player with a cap hit of $7.35 million through the 2013-14 season.
New general manager Marc Bergevin still has to re-sign star defenseman P.K. Subban after the lockout and already has a lot of salary committed to just 16 players for 2013-14.
For the Canadiens to have a quality roster and fit under the new salary cap after this season, Gomez has to be bought out.
Keith Ballard, Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks thought they were adding a top-four defenseman to bolster their blue line when they acquired Keith Ballard from the Florida Panthers via trade in 2010.
Unfortunately for Vancouver, Ballard's tenure has been a disaster. He has missed a total of 52 games over the last two seasons and has scored just 15 points in 112 games for the Canucks. His defense also hasn't been impressive.
He has a salary cap hit of $4.2 million for the next four years, which is way too high for a player that doesn't even make the lineup every game.
The 30-year-old defenseman should be the first player who the Canucks consider buying out.
Wade Redden, New York Rangers
Wade Redden has to be bought out by the New York Rangers, even if AHL player salaries are not included in the NHL salary cap.
Redden has a salary cap hit of $6 million for two more seasons, but hasn't played in the NHL since the 2009-10 season because of his high salary and struggles on the ice.
The Rangers cannot re-sign their best players over the next two years (including Henrik Lundqvist, Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan, Chris Kreider and Dan Girardi who are all free agents in 2015) with Redden's cap hit still on the payroll, so expect him to be bought out as soon as possible.
Rick DiPietro, New York Islanders
Rick DiPietro's cap hit of $4.5 million is a huge problem for the New York Islanders since he has played in just 47 games since the 2007-08 season, but the nine years left on his 15-year deal is the real issue.
Even though New York has the second smallest amount of money committed to player salaries for this season, having $4.5 million in cap space belong to an overrated player who rarely plays is not good for business.
As soon as general manager Garth Snow can buy out a player or two from his roster after the lockout, he must end DiPietro's tenure with the Islanders.
New York has a lot of good young prospects who may be very expensive to re-sign in the next three to five seasons.
Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers
It's unknown if teams would have the option of taking cap hits off payroll by putting players on long-term injury reserve (LITR) in the next CBA, but if this option is taken away, the Philadelphia Flyers have to buy out veteran defenseman Chris Pronger.
Pronger is still a very long way from making an NHL comeback after suffering a concussion last season.
The Flyers have 12 players with cap hits of $3 million or higher for the 2013-14 season, so they must buy out the remainder of Pronger's contract, which has five years left on it with a $4.9 million cap hit.
11 More Players Who Could be Bought Out and Why
|Team||Player||Cap Hit||Years Left on Contract||Why|
|Chicago Blackhawks||Marian Hossa||$5.27||8||There are lots of years and money left on Hossa's contract. He's already 33 years old and is recovering from a serious concussion.|
|Los Angeles Kings||Jeff Carter||$5.27||10||Carter is a good top-six center, but not worth $5.27 million for the next decade. The Kings currently have five contracts with cap hits above $5 million for 2013-14.
|Philadelphia Flyers||Ilya Bryzgalov||$5.66||8||A horrendous first season in Philly proved that Bryzgalov's contract was a giant mistake.|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||Vincent Lecavalier||$7.27||8||Buying out their captain would be tough, but the Lightning shouldn't keep Lecavalier when his cap hit is huge and his offensive production continues to decline.|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||Mike Komisarek||$4.5||2||
Komisarek is no longer a quality defenseman and was a healthy scratch at times last season.
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Paul Martin||$5||3||The Penguins have many top-tier defensive prospects, which makes the decision to buy out the underachieving Martin much easier.|
|Edmonton Oilers||Shawn Horcoff||$5.5||3||Horcoff's lackluster performances, plus the fact that the Oilers have too many young players to re-sign in the near future, makes him a top buyout candidate.|
|Calgary Flames||Alex Tanguay||$3.5||4||Tanguay is 33 years old and his offensive production dropped 20 points last season.|
|Buffalo Sabres||Ville Leino||$4.5||5||Leino did not perform at a high level last season, as his scoring dropped 28 points. If he doesn't improve in a major way, he must be bought out.|
|Buffalo Sabres||Christian Ehrhoff||$4||9||Ehrhoff isn't a bad defenseman, but the length of his deal is a real issue. Nine more years with a cap hit of $4 million is an example of a really bad contract.|
|Boston Bruins||Marc Savard||$4||5||If the Bruins are not able to take away Savard's cap hit by putting him on LTIR, then they should buy him out. It doesn't look like he will make an NHL comeback.|