Jay Pandolfo had successful surgery today to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. That's the good news.
Now, the bad news.
As Tom Gulitti reported on his Fire & Ice blog on Monday:
"If the Devils were considering buying out the the final year on left wing Jay Pandolfo’s contract, they probably can forget about it now.
The 35-year-old left wing will have surgery Tuesday to repair a labrum tear that he sustained when he dislocated his right shoulder on a hit from ex-Devil Mike Rupp on Oct. 24 in Pittsburgh. Pandolfo said the expected recovery time is four months until he would be ready to participate in full contact drills, but that doctors would know more about the recovery time after the surgery.
If it does take four months, Pandolfo would be ready for the start of training camp in September, but the Devils will miss both windows to buy out his contract. According to the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement, an injured player’s contract cannot be bought out.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed to me via e-mail that there are, “only two windows for permissible buyouts and if the player is not fit to play during either of those periods (due to a hockey-related injury), he is not eligible to be bought out.”
The first buyout period begins at 5 p.m. on June 15 or 48 hours after the final game of the Stanley Cup Finals (whichever date is later) and ends at 5 p.m. on June 30. Teams with players that file for arbitration have a second window to buy out players within 48 hours of the team’s last arbitration award or settlement. The last day that arbitration awards can be announced is Aug. 6. So, if Pandolfo is not deemed healthy by Aug. 8—at the latest—he will not be eligible to be bought out. Given the expected four-month recovery period, Pandolfo will not be healthy by then.
Pandolfo has one-year at $2.5 million left on his contract. He also has a no-trade clause. He said he had not yet been asked to waive the no-trade clause. It would seem unlikely that a team would trade for him anyway while he is recovering from surgery. "
So, what to do with Jay, and all that dough? Buying out Pandolfo would have saved the Devils around $1.2 million in '10-'11. If the recovery takes four months, a buyout likely will not be an option. Trading him? Who would want a 35-year-old player, recovering from surgery, making $2.5 million, who just came off a season where he played 52 games (none in the playoffs), scored nine points (4g - 5a) and was a minus-10?
There's no question most Devils fans love Pando. He was always a solid player for the team, but the team needs to make changes. Big changes.
Keeping Pandolfo, at his salary, just isn't what this team needs now, or for the future.
Lou Lamoriello's job just got a little more difficult.