As the NHL and its players’ association are set to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement, one of the key provisions in the new structure is a buyout clause. Each team has been given two amnesty clauses, similar to what NBA teams earned in their last round of negotiations (although the NBA teams only got one amnesty).
That means a number of players will be in the crosshairs to get bought out before the 2013 season starts. Here’s a look at some of the players who are potential buyout candidates:
Rick DiPietro, New York Islanders
If there ever was the face of this buyout clause, it’s Rick DiPietro. His 15-year, $67.5 million contract — and his lack of production — is one of the main reasons both sides wanted to get this type of amnesty clause in place.
DiPietro is a decent goaltender but he’s never healthy. He’s played a total of 47 games over the last four seasons. In other words, the Isles paid $18 million for 47 games of service. He’s the ideal candidate for a buyout.
Wade Redden, New York Rangers
Wade Redden is in a similar boat as DiPietro, but his case is even worse. He’s been so bad that the Rangers didn’t even suit him up with the big club at all in either of the last two seasons. Although they are paying him $6.5 million per year, he’s suiting up with the team’s AHL affiliate, the Connecticut Whale. The good news for him is that he wasn’t really affected by the lockout.
Now that there’s buyout potential, expect him and the Rangers to come to a settlement so that he can return to the NHL.
James Wisniewski, Columbus Blue Jackets
Would the Columbus Blue Jackets be so quick to admit a mistake? Last offseason, the Blue Jackets signed James Wisniewski to a six-year, $33 million contract and he clearly didn’t deliver. At that point, they thought that they were primed to sign a few key veterans and build around them … until the team proved to be horrible and they deconstructed the team once more.
Is Wisniewski really worth that kind of money? That’s what the Blue Jackets will be asking themselves when weighing his buyout. Many people criticized the signing when it happened and still feel he’s not worth the price tag they paid.
Ville Leino, Buffalo Sabres
Ville Leino is in the same boat, as the Sabres gave him a six-year, $27 million contract last offseason and have regretted it ever since. At $4.5 million per year, his contract is a big albatross on the books. They might be included to usher him out sooner rather than later unless they believe his performance can perk up in his second year with the team.
Marc Savard, Boston Bruins
Many people peg Marc Savard as a likely buyout candidate but keep in mind that injured players are not allowed to be bought out. Tha’s a big reason why players like Savard and Chris Pronger will not be options.
However, there are rumors that the buyout can still be employed in some ways if Savard is somehow deemed healthy and just accepts the buyout. It’s unclear whether this is just conjecture for now or whether it’s actually possible.
In any case, Savard is likely heading for retirement so the Bruins might opt to just let that happen on its own.