The list of unrestricted free agents is long but may get longer as teams will be trying to get their own house in order. in doing so they will be buying out many of their own players. Here is some players who may get cut.
Sergei Fedorov – His age and his 6 million dollar salary are good reasons why the Ducks would buy Fedorov out. Another reason may be to clear the deck to try to acquire players like Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi who are favorites of Brian Burke. If Fedorov got free, a team like the Devils who love two way players would be a nice fit as would his former team the Wings.
Rob Blake – It isnt as much that he is overpaid as he is one of the top 5 blueliners in the league. it is the fact that the best player in the world needs to be signed. As does much of the rest of the Avs core. With Peter Forsberg on his way back to the NHL, the Avs need to bring him back or face losing him for nothing. And with Tanguay, Hedjuk, Foote, Aebischer needing contracts as well, it is something the Avs may have to do to stay under the cap. Of course the big market teams (Leafs are only a candidate because Blake is from Ontario) will want a piece of Blake but a team that really needs him is the Habs.
Bill Guerin – Geurin gets a bad rap because of the attitude he has plus the fact that he has a big fat contract. He does produce but really is not a franchise type player that warrants a contract like that. The Stars need to resign Modano so cutting Geurin may be necessary. If the Stars get rid of Geurin and fellow overpaid Star Pierre Turgeon, that would help them out cap wise. Where Guerin ends up remains to be seen. Teams love acquiring good power forwards which Guerin is. The Panthers were interested in trading for Guerin and perhaps they would try to sign him if he became free.
Derian Hatcher – Like the Avs with Rob Blake, the Wings have other priorities like signing Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Yzerman which may mean cutting some key players. Hatcher may be one of them. This may be due to the fact he was injured in his first year with the Wings and never made much of an impact. If Hatch were free I think he would welcome a return playing for Ken Hitch***** in Philly.
Keith Tkachuk – Tkachuk is arguably one of the leagues better power forwards. However players who have never done anything in the playoffs dont really deserve 7.6 million dollars. The fact that the Blues are for sale makes it all the more reasonable that the Blues start getting rid of their high priced talent. If he ever was free, some team could reform that hot line that played for the Jets: Tkachuk-Zhamnov-Selanne. not likely but hey anything can happen this off-season.
Doug Weight – Another Blue who could get cut is Weight. Again because the team is for sale and the fact that keeping Weight, Tkachuk and Pronger alone may cost the team over 20 million are significant reasons why he could get bought out. It will be a tough pill for Blues fans to swallow to lose all or any of those star players but that is the pill you must swallow doing bad business in the NHL. I would love for Weight to return to the Oilers. He was as much of a face of the franchise as Smyth was and his style of play is pure Oiler.
John Madden – You say John Madden? this is not a joke. He is a terrific player but he is making 3.5 million and free to go wherever he chooses next season. He is a great checker and one who can pot some goals but not too many 3rd line centres these days will be making that kind of money. Especially since the team needs to resign the league’s top blueliner Scott Niedermayer. IF the Devils do buy out Madden, i dare not to question Lou Lamierello. The man knows what he is doing. Madden will help a ton of teams but maybe his former coach Jacques Lemaire can get him to come to Minnesota. What a fit he would be playing with Brian Rolston.
Mike Peca – already saddled with the Yashin contract, Peca may be cut loose just so the team can have some money to use to fill out a roster filled with holes. AFter a good first season on Long Island, he has struggled with injuries and inconsistency. He is not the feared checker he once was and not as productive a scorer. perhaps a return “home” to Buffalo would do the trick if he was free to go anywhere. Playing for a guy like Jacques Martin in Florida wouldnt be too bad either. I mean other Isles like Jokinen and Luongo havent dont too bad down there.
Bobby Holik and Darius Kasparitius – because both players are signed for multiple years, it will be a tough choice for the Rangers. But if the blueshirts want to get involved in the free agent market then these two may likely get the boot. They are good players but certainly not worth the money they make. Holik has the second worst contract in hockey after Yashin’s so it may be in the Rangers best interest to cut him loose and bring in someone better. But these players may not go far if they were cut by the Rangers. Holik going back to Jersey wouldnt surprise me and neither would Kasparitius going back to Long Island.
John Leclair, Tony Amonte and Jeremy Roenick – The Flyers could really make noise in the free agent market if they chose to cut these 3. Leclair is injury prone now and is no where near worth the almost 7 million he is due. Amonte is still one of the league’s best skaters and perhaps playing at home in Boston or returning to Chicago would not be too far fetched. JR could also go wherever Amonte goes. both are from the Boston area and would love to finish their careers together back home and Chicago would be nice too. Not too sure JR will be bought out though. He is an integral part of that team and is really their most dangerous player. The Flyers would end up saving over 16 million if they cut those 3 guys.
Owen Nolan – Injuries, inconsistency and age are why the Leafs will buy out the former Sharks captain. The Leafs need all the cap room they can get and getting rid of Nolan is a start. He can still be an effective player if healthy. We saw how well he played helping out youngster Matt Stajan. And he was afterall a part of the 2002 Olympic team. But he is no longer the top line player he once was. If he can stay healthy he would make a nice support player. Perhaps in Calgary to play once again under coach Sutter.
That is a pretty impressive list of players. Certainly they will draw interest if they all end up free to go anywhere they choose. Their price tags will be much cheaper and most of these players can still perform and help out a team. This only adds to the intrigue of the off-season to see who gets bought out as it has so many implications for the teams and the free agent market. I cant wait for all this to get started.