As reported by TSN this afternoon, Todd Bertuzzi has been placed on waivers by the Anaheim Ducks. Should the veteran forward remain unclaimed by other NHL teams, General Manager Brian Burke intends on buying out the final year of Bertuzzi's two-year, $ million dollar (USD) contract. Doing so would mean only two-thirds of his salary would be paid by the team, while he would be released as a unrestricted free agent available to any team. Burke cites the salary cap as the main reason behind his decision.
Bertuzzi had previous stints on the Vancouver Canucks (where Burke was their GM at the time), Florida Panthers, and Detroit Red Wings. Following a controversial career-ending injury he caused to Colorado rookie Steve Moore in 2004, Bertuzzi had been a shadow of his former elite player status. Trades to the Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings failed to re-spark the offensive prowness that earned him 97 points in the 2002-2003 season.
Due to their past connection, GM Burke gave Bertuzzi a chance to redeem himself and signed him following the Ducks' 2007 Stanley Cup championship. The forward signed the two-year contract that many thought to be too expensive for a player who was viewed to have seen better days. For the 2007-2008 season, he managed a respectable 40 points in 68 games but continued to play with inconsistent tenacity. The Anaheim Ducks returned to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the third consecutive year, but were eliminated in the first round by the Dallas Stars. After Thursday's announcement of defenseman and 2007 playoff MVP Scott Niedermayer's return for one more season, the Ducks found themselves close to the salary cap maximum. The salary cap is reported to be 56.7 million US dollars next season.
Analysis: This is a great move for Anaheim, who had been placed in a position to either dump all-star defenseman Matthieu Schnieder or another pricey player. Since Schnieder is still a very servicable d-man and a good backup to ease the load off Niedermayer, Bertuzzi was the most logical choice for elimination. Many people have speculated that GM Burke wouldn't have the initiative to dump a player he had close personal connections with, but he has proven everyone wrong. This shows he has the guts to do the correct decisions for his club, regardless of the "old boys club" mentality that is prevalent in the National Hockey League. This is a constructive move for the team, and allows them some flexibility when they re-sign restricted free agent Corey Perry. Perry is a major cog in the Ducks' offense, with him being the team's second-leading scorer last season with 54 points.