Starting today, NHL teams have two weeks to buyout the contracts of players who might be considered untradable or quite simply, are not producing up to the expectations of their contract. These abrupt contract terminations are usually last ditch efforts by management to try to move a player, or cut some costs.
The savings are not huge though because if a player is bought out and they are 26 years old or older, they would still get two thirds of the value of their contract, which is paid out over a two year period. (Players who are 25 years old and younger get one third).
Two years ago, the Carolina Hurricanes bought out the contract of defenseman Frantisek Kaberle. (They are paying him the final year of that deal this season.) They did not buy out anyone last year, but the Canes might have a couple of candidates for consideration this time around. (Correction, Kaberle was bought out in the summer of 2009. There is still one year remaining on his buyout.)
Samsonov was acquired by the Canes off the waiver wire during the 2007-08 season. After scoring zero goals and four assists for the Chicago Blackhawks in the first 23 games of that season, he looked like he found a home in Carolina as he scored 14 goals and notched 18 assists for a total of 32 points in 38 games for the Canes.
In that offseason, GM Jim Rutherford then signed the winger to a three year deal which had a cap hit of $2.533 million, but he is due to earn $2.8 million this season which is the last of his contract.
After a disappointing season last year where he scored 14 goals and had 15 assists in 72 games, people around the league are expecting him to be bought out. Of course knowing this, it makes him extremely difficult to trade, if not impossible.
If another team was interested in Samsonov, why give up an asset for him? Simply wait until he his bought out and sign him at a much cheaper price, without giving up anything in return.
Another buyout possibility is Rod Brind`Amour. The former captain had an even worse year than Samsonov, (9G 10A in 80 games), but also has one year remaining on his deal which will pay him $3 million. He has indicated that he wants to return one more year to finish out his contract, but it seems that management would prefer that he retire and move up to the front office.
Who will win this battle of wills?
While a buyout for this player is possible, it's not as likely to happen as with Samsonov. Either way, don't look for the Canes to make a decision until the last minute on these issues. They have until June 30 to make their move.
There are several other players around the league in a similar predicament. Spector gives out a list of probables on Fox Sports Net. Here is his listing of possibilities, (I'm adding in the salary balance of each contract):
- Ales Kotalik ($3 million each year for two years)
- Sergei Samsonov ($2.8 million for one year)
- Cristobal Huet ($5.625 million each year for two years)
- Brent Sopel ($2 million for one year)
- Ethan Moreau ($1.75 million for one year)
- Robert Nilsson ($2.5 million for one year)
- Patrick O`Sullivan ($2.388 million for one year)
- Sheldon Souray ($4.5 million each year for two years)
- Roman Hamrlik ($5.5 million for one year)
- Andrei Kostitsyn ($3.25 million for one year)
- Georges Laraque ($1.5 million for one year)
- Wade Redden (total of $23 million over next four years)
- Michal Rozsival (total of $7 million over next two years)
- Jonathan Cheechoo ($3.5 million for one year)
- Jeff Finger ($3.5 million each year for two years)
In looking over the list, it's a bit strange that Edmonton would give up already on Patrick O'Sullivan and Robert Nilsson, considering they are both still a bit young. But for some of those, you could see an impending buyout coming as soon as the signing of the contract was announced.
Did Spector leave anyone off the list that should be there?
It will be a busy time in the NHL for the next two weeks, leading right up until free agent signing day of July 1. We will be watching.