Now is the time that many NHL teams will seriously think about buying out the contracts of some over-paid and under-performing players. Ottawa's Ray Emery is at the top of the list of possibilities, as well as Boston's Glen Murray and Atlanta's Alexei Zhitnik.
There are also rumors that Andrew Raycroft and Darcy Tucker of the Maple Leafs could be bought out as well.
The interesting thing about some of these players is that they can usually be picked up pretty inexpensively after the buyout, and they will probably play like they have something to prove. For instance, Tucker wouldn't look bad on some team's 4rth line, as a pesky agitator.
Will any of the Hurricanes be bought out?
I would say that there are 3 or 4 possibilities, although in my opinion chances are very small that Canes management would resort to that.
1. After a great start last season, Jeff Hamilton's play leveled off as he turned out to be a major defensive liability at times. He's still a good powerplay specialist, but an expensive one at 800K per year. Carolina was hoping another team would claim him while he was on waivers last season, but there were no takers.
I doubt that they will buy him out because if push comes to shove, they can always send him to Albany again where he would be an expensive insurance policy, in case of any injuries.
2. Nic Wallin had a disappointing season last year and had a team worst -18. He has a contract good for 2 more years which pays him 1.725 million each year. The contract includes the now infamous "no movement clause" which has been brought into play at least once by the defenseman.
While the contract amount isn't too excessive, management will still be looking for Nic to pick up his game this coming season or he might join Hamilton on the waiver wire. I doubt that there will be a buyout in this case.
3. Frantisek Kaberle looked absolutely lost at times last season, but to his credit he picked up his game a lot toward the end of the year. He played his best when paired up with newcomer Joe Corvo. Frank has a contract which will pay him 2.2 million each of the next two years.
His resurgence toward the end of the year will probably give management hope and will postpone any buyout thoughts.
4. Finally, David Tanabe could be a buyout candidate because he has signed a deal worth 900K for next season, but it's questionable whether or not he will be healthy enough to play.
I'm not sure about the legal technicalities of buying out the contract of an injured player, so it is possible that Carolina's hands could be tied regarding him.
Speaking of Tanabe, I wonder what his current health status is?
There has not been anything posted about the health status of any of the injured Canes from last season. Is Cullen still suffering from concussion like symptoms? Has Williams recovered from his knee operation and bad back? The last we heard about Ray Whitney, he had to drop out of the Worlds because of his injury. How is Brind'Amour?
Hopefully, the summer will heal all wounds.