Almost every team in the league has a player or two on their roster that has an awful contract and/or has played themselves into a position where they are less valuable than the cap space they are taking up. With the salary cap decreasing next season there are several teams who will be scrambling to find cap space to try and make room to make all the signings that they need to make. Each team has two amnesty buy-outs to burn over the course of the next two off-seasons and it is almost a certainty that we will be seeing some noteworthy names coming in the first wave of these amnesty buy-outs this season including the Rangers very own Brad Richards.
Here is a look at potential buy-out candidates for teams in the Atlantic Division (Interestingly enough this might be the very last chance we get to write a story about the Atlantic Division with the division shake-up coming next season).
Players Who Could be Bought-Out: Marc-Andre Fleury,
The Evgeni Malkin signing is almost certainly going to have an impact on the depth of the Penguins especially when one considers that in two seasons UFAs Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, and Chris Kunitz and RFA Brandon Sutter all need new contracts on a team that now has $23.2 million tied up in three forwards. That is a lot of big names that need new contracts two years from now and the Penguins might very well find themselves in an awkward position with how much cap space they have to work with. In my opinion the Penguins are going to let the aging veterans like Dupuis, Cooke, and Kunitz walk so that they can hold on to players who are still in their prime. I also don't see Fleury being bought out but his name is among the most popular buy-out calculations on capgeek.com so he is certainly worth mentioning. Paul Martin is coming off of his best year as a Penguin but that might not be enough to keep him from being discussed as a potential buy-out candidate with his $5 million on the books for two more years. However, Martin might not be as good of a candidate for an amnesty buy-out as I first thought... Pensburgh's Managing Editor Hooks Orpik had this to say of Martin when I asked him if Martin was a strong buy-out candidate:
Martin was the Penguins most consistent defenseman, and only has two years left on his contract. There’s no reason to buy him out.
In Martin's place on the sacrificial altar Hooks offered up the name of Tanner Glass who was largely ineffective in his role this year and, according to Hooks, isn't worth the $1.1 million of cap space he'll be taking up next season.
The UFAs for the Penguins this year include Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Matt Cooke, Pascal Dupuis, and Douglas Murray and I doubt the Penguins can find a way to hold onto all of these guys considering who they have to re-sign next season. Which players they want to keep around and re-sign in the next two years is certainly worth keeping an eye on because it is quite likely that a big name or two will be hitting the free agent market this offseason and/or next offseason.
Players Who Could be Bought-Out: Rick DiPietro
If Rick DiPietro doesn't get bought out I really don't know what to think about this universe and the laws that supposedly define it. Obviously DiPietro isn't going to be a target for the Rangers but there could be a few teams that might be interested in a punching bag/back-up goaltender. If only the Islanders could use one of their amnesty buy-outs on their buy-out of Alexi Yashin.
I don't think we'll see Ilya Kovalchuk becoming a free agent via a buy-out anytime soon but the Devils have a pair of blueliners that could become free agents that way including Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov. Volchenkov, 31, has three years left on his current contract at a cap hit of $4.25 million a year and has seen the quality of his play decline due to his increasing age and the nagging injuries that come hand-in-hand with his style of play. Salvador is under contract for just two more years but the complaints about his play from the Devils fanbase have been loud and hard not to notice. It will be interesting to see which blueliners the Devils bring back into the fold for next season and what their backline looks like considering that Zidlicky and Harrold are UFA on July 5th.
The cosmonaut goaltender is among the most likely players to be bought out. Despite looking better than he did last season it is hard to imagine that Bryzgalov is going to be worth the albatross of a contract he was signed to. At $5.67 million a year on the cap until 2020 Bryzgalov is one of those players that is more likely than not to be bought out. Danny Briere is only under contract for another two seasons but his cap hit of $6.5 million and his susceptibility to injury might force the Flyers to buy him out and use some of that cap space to ensure they can retain the services of players who will become RFAs after next season that include Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, and Sean Couturier. There were quite a lot of trade rumors surrounding Briere this year but if there is no one willing to take on the last two years of his contract he could very well be available on the free agent market a year early or two early.
So who do you think the Rangers should target from the potential buy-out candidates in the Atlantic Division? Do you think there is someone I forgot to list that is a strong amnesty buy-out candidate? Which potential buy-out candidate do you think is most likely to find work with another team when they sign to a more reasonable contract?
Let me know what you think and who you like in the comments.
Let's go Rangers.