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Brooks ponders an amnesty buyout scenario involving Brad Richards

The longer this season goes, the more I've been reminding my fellow Wings fans that the salary cap is going down from $70.2 million to $64.3 million this summer. It's probably going to stay at that level for some time as the NHLPA's share of the NHL's hockey-related revenues drops to 50% and stays there.

As such, even Detroit's $18.3 million in cap space, per Capgeek.com, becomes a tight fit despite the fact that the Wings are already $7.79 million under the current cap, with players like Valtteri Filppula, Jimmy Howard, Damien Brunner, Danny Cleary, Drew Miller and Ian White as their unrestricted free agents-to-be, and players like Brendan Smith, Brian Lashoff, Joakim Andersson and Gustav Nyquist coming off their entry-level deals.

Not everyone is going to be back in Detroit, and as the cap's upper limit drops by $5.9 million and remains stable, even restricted free agents-to-be can't anticipate the same kinds of raises that they would have seen had the cap remained at its current level--and for many star players, this summer portends a long wait to take a severe pay cut to play somewhere else.

To some extent, I believe that this summer's round of amnesty buyouts--which will take place in June--may be of more importance than listing this summer's free agents-to-be, because some of the league's top players will be bought out because their contracts are either deemed expendable or cost prohibitive going forward.

We're really going to see a dispersal draft to some extent, with more impact players likely to either re-sign with their rights-holders or to find themselves in an uncomfortably bear-like market sometime after July 1st.

The New York Post's Larry Brooks believes that one of those players might be Brad Richards, and while even Brooks admits that he's being presumptous by suggesting as much, his argument behind such a suggestion is sound:

There is every chance Richards, who has struggled in essentially every aspect thus far and most notably in pace, will find his game along the way and render the issue moot. There is every chance Richards, whose confidence is shaken if not shot, will regain the swagger that has disappeared in his game (and in his team’s as well, by the way).

If not, though, if the first third of the season is prelude to the remainder of 2012-13, then the 31-year-old center’s heavily front-loaded nine-year, $60 million contract that runs through 2020-21 will be placed on a slide for microscopic inspection, as if dispositive evidence in a murder case.

The Rangers, as currently constituted, will have approximately $10 million of space to fill five roster spots next season. That includes three positions reserved for restricted free agents Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin. That leaves the club with limited maneuverability regarding moves not only over the summer, but this season as well if they include adding players with contracts that run into next year.

This makes it much more likely than not that the Rangers would execute their final amnesty buyout this summer rather than next, when the cap cannot go down and conceivably will go up.

The numbers tell us Marian Gaborik, carrying a cap hit of $7.5 million through next season, would be a candidate, except other essential numbers say No. 10 not only leads the Blueshirts in goals, as usual, but is sixth in the NHL in goal-scoring since he came to the Rangers in 2009-10 (fourth in goals per game).

Richards’ cap hit is $6.67 million per for six more seasons. The cap-recapture penalties on front-loaded contracts such as his mean the Rangers would be punished severely if the 32-year-old pivot were to retire before the end of his deal. A normal course buyout down the road would burden the Rangers with three seasons of between $6 million and $7 million of dead cap space.

Continued with quips about injuries, Dan Boyle as another buyout candidate and a bit about Rick DiPietro.

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Comments

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When someone gets annoyed and feels the need to savage the Wings brass for not being more aggressive in pursuing pet player x, y, or z which, duh, would have totally solved Detroit’s current competitive problems, it would be wise to recall the subject of this post.

This is what a cap does.  It bleeds teams out.  It makes everyone pretty much the same.

All Holland has (not) done with regards to player acquisition was to get a bit ahead of the crashing wave that is the cap ceiling so he wouldn’t be in the same position he was in 2005-6, where he had to slash and slice and then spend the next two full years so tight up against the cap he had to count pennies on roster recalls and pretty much watch any player he wanted to keep walk away.

I think he made fair, and probably slightly overly so, offers to Suter and Parise since elite guys like that don’t hit the pure open market all that often, but what’s he’s especially done is not get to aggressive with multi-year offers to middle tier players like Hudler, for example.

Given Detroit’s position with expirings and their space beneath the 2014 cap, Holland has allowed himself some options.

Depending on Detroit’s playoff position they may even be able to turn some of those expirings into real assets.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 02/24/13 at 06:15 AM ET

Slumpy's avatar

Rangers miss Prust. Their top players are getting abused, Richards included.
I would be shocked to see Richards bought out but he would be a great addition here without a doubt.
Not a fan of the salary cap. Not a fan of the shootout and especially the pt system since it’s addition not be changed for wins, losses and OT.
Not a fan of parity.

If God wanted us all to be to the same he would of made us all the same size with the same mental limits.

Looks like Kenny will stand pat until summer to make his big moves instead of at the trade deadline if this amnesty buyout thing proves league wide to start happening to players still with high end talent.

Posted by Slumpy from Detroit on 02/24/13 at 07:40 AM ET

utahgentile's avatar

If God wanted us all to be to the same he would of made us all the same size with the same mental limits.

Teams filled with Harrison Bergerons.

Posted by utahgentile from the land of white and delightsome people on 02/24/13 at 08:52 AM ET

SK77's avatar

To some extent, I believe that this summer’s round of amnesty buyouts—which will take place in June—may be of more importance than listing this summer’s free agents-to-be, because some of the league’s top players will be bought out because their contracts are either deemed expendable or cost prohibitive going forward.

But to keep the article in mind, players that will be bought out are deemed expendable not only because their current salary is too expensive – and who’s to say there won’t be other teams throwing them ludicrous contracts – but also because these are players that aren’t performing well.

Posted by SK77 on 02/24/13 at 09:10 AM ET

Avatar

Yeah kid, but not all players under perform just because of them selves. I do agree, however, Detroit is not the place to go if you can play well because you feel you’re being roughed up.

Posted by teldar on 02/24/13 at 09:31 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

If Detroit re-signs Filppula, their cap troubles will be a hell of their own making.  Many of the younger players will out perform him, at least as he is playing now, and will cost far less money to have on the roster.  Save the 5+ mil he is going to ask for, and trade him now for some defensive depth, or even that elusive top 4 dman, since none exist in the upcoming free agency.

Posted by Hootinani on 02/24/13 at 10:25 AM ET

SK77's avatar

The problem with Filppula though is he’s a center and with no other 2nd line center options in Detroit’s system that means Pavel & Hank would have to always play on separate lines. And with no other options at center, if one of them ever goes down with an injury (which is inevitable) it would be even more devastating. Right?

Posted by SK77 on 02/24/13 at 10:54 AM ET

shanetx's avatar

The problem with Filppula though is he’s a center and with no other 2nd line center options in Detroit’s system that means Pavel & Hank would have to always play on separate lines.


Z and Pav will never be linemates for a majority of the season again.  It’s just not going to happen, however much we all may wish for it.

I think Jarnkrök is the third center option for the future- probably even next year.  Other than him, they’ve still got Nyquist, Andersson, Emmerton, Abdelkader and, of course, Helm.  Just because they don’t use some of these guys at center currently doesn’t mean they can’t play it.  I wouldn’t think Emmerton was capable of being a second or third liner, but I also didn’t think he was capable of being an effective NHL player at all before this season so he may prove me wrong again (He’s been really good in limited minutes most nights).  In some cases the moves from center (Nyquist), is a size issue and players can always bulk up if need be. 

Andersson was the center on the AHL’s best line until his callup to the NHL (between Nyquist and Tatar).  He’s not what you think of as the typical Detroit center (offensively skilled pass-first playmaker sort), but he is actually very similiar to what they thought Mule was prior to his offensive breakout in 07-08; a big, strong, physical center who played with high energy, a lot of inertia, and physicality.  Essentially, the difficult-to-play against energy guy the Wings don’t have many of any more.  A slower-but-bigger Helm type, perhaps.  And for that matter, there’s Franzen.  I’ve often thought he looked more engaged in his brief shifts back to center.  Last year in the preseason he and Nyquist had instant chemistry with Franzen playing center and Nyquist LW.

 

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 02/24/13 at 11:51 AM ET

shanetx's avatar

To further my own point above, consider the following:

Pav-Z-Brunner
*-Helm-Franzen
Nyquist-Andersson-Tatar
Järnkrok-Emmerton-*

* represents old guy who’s being kept on too long and played too high to slow down the better players and keep rookies from playing time.  Pick either Bertuzzi, Cleary, Samuelsson as per your particular preference.

That’s probably a better team (next year.  MORE SEASONING) than what we’re currently seeing.  And there’s even room to keep two out of our three * guys slotted ahead of the non-mentioned Miller and Eaves, right?

Oh, who am I kidding.  Gotta get Tootoo in there on that forth line to make sure it’s appropriately overpaid and underutilized.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 02/24/13 at 11:58 AM ET

SK77's avatar

I don’t see Helm, Nyquist, Andersson, Emmerton, or Abdelkader, centering a second line that in theory should be putting up points.

Posted by SK77 on 02/24/13 at 12:40 PM ET

Avatar

All Holland has (not) done with regards to player acquisition was to get a bit ahead of the crashing wave that is the cap ceiling so he wouldn’t be in the same position he was in 2005-6

Yeah, that’s what he did by making bad signings like Samuelsson (with an NTC) and Colaiacovo, and by both signing Tootoo and re-signing Abdelkader.

He’s gotten ahead by giving himself less wiggle room.

Good one.

The problem with Filppula though is he’s a center and with no other 2nd line center options in Detroit’s system that means Pavel & Hank would have to always play on separate lines.

The problem with Filppula is that no matter what he’s getting a raise next year, but he is already too expensive for a third line centre and has shown that he’s not a second line centre.  It’s better to have Hank and Datsyuk on separate lines at even strength so that the Wings can have two top lines than it is to have then on one line and end up with a first line, two third lines and a fourth line.

If you’re going to spend the type of money Filppula will be able to get on the open market, then get a second line centre or a top-six winger, don’t get someone who isn’t a second-line centre OR a second-line winger but gets paid second-line money.

Posted by Garth on 02/24/13 at 12:48 PM ET

SK77's avatar

If you’re going to spend the type of money Filppula will be able to get on the open market, then get a second line centre or a top-six winger, don’t get someone who isn’t a second-line centre OR a second-line winger but gets paid second-line money.

Posted by Garth on 02/24/13 at 12:48 PM ET

I would lose no sleep if Filppula went somewhere else – would prefer it even – but what the hell is a real second line center going to cost on the open market next year if Filppula is going to be making even more than he does now? Ugh.

And what if the Wings miss out again on the free agent market? Ughhh.

Posted by SK77 on 02/24/13 at 12:54 PM ET

Avatar

I find it interesting the players that are over rated also tend to be the players that are a media creation. Players like Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Jeff Carter among older players, but also more recent inventions such as Kyle Turris and Tyler Seguin or Ryan Nugent Hopkins and Taylor Hall and most of the players in Edmonton. I will put money on Justin Schultz fitting this category soon enough. Most of these players come out of the TSN made Canada Junior frenzy declaring these players are can’t miss superstars at the age of 18. It isn’t that they aren’t good hockey players, they just aren’t superstars and struggle to live up to expectations.

Posted by timbits on 02/24/13 at 01:19 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

How are we supposed to resign all those UFA’s and still let the kids get a shot?

That’s how you contend with the cap, actually use the players you draft.  Don’t make them career minor leaguers while you resign vets no one else wants.

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 02/24/13 at 01:28 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Kyle Turris and Tyler Seguin or Ryan Nugent Hopkins and Taylor Hall and most of the players in Edmonton.

Scotty Bowman compared Turris to Yzerman.  That’s not media hype.  Go figure, put in a Red Wings style system he turned his game around completely.  Before that trade NO ONE was looking at him, even after Bowman’s statements.

Seguin, if you watch him, has a very mature game and contributes even when not on the score-sheet.  Had success everywhere he’s gone too.

RNH was hands down their best forward when the Oil played the Wings.  I thought Hall was ABSOLUTELY over-hyped but RNH had a more mature game and very sound positioning and able to slip into open areas quietly. 

Nash is good but not a savior.  He’s a good secondary guy but he’s never even put up more than 60 pnts no?  Scorer, absolutely but not a he-man.  Richards the same, he needs a gritty working team for his skill to come through, lost that mentality in Prust.  Gaborik, same thing as Richards.  I think it’s a condition of how the NHL is built anymore real talent needs tough teams to use it or else have to start grinding it out with dirty plays (as in not preset bang bang plays)

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 02/24/13 at 01:36 PM ET

Avatar

I thought Hall was ABSOLUTELY over-hyped but RNH had a more mature game and very sound positioning and able to slip into open areas quietly.

 

I think it’s a condition of how the NHL is built anymore real talent needs tough teams to use it or else have to start grinding it out with dirty plays (as in not preset bang bang plays)

I think your comments are spot on. This reality conflicts with the expectations that are many times manufactured for these players and it is virtually impossible for them to live up to. Unless the environment is right, the team built for their style of play etc, they struggle to succeed. I think we need less hype and more focus on specific skill set and intangibles that are better predictors of success. For example players like Toews (bull in a china shop style) and Tavares (can’t skate) have been overhyped, yet they have determination and drive that far exceed their skill set. Their heart and desire overcome their actual skill deficits, so they have lived up to their hype inspite of it.

Posted by timbits on 02/24/13 at 02:18 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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