Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 06/15/10 at 09:04 AM ET
The NHL’s two week window of opportunity to buy out existing contracts begins today, and two Hurricanes might be targeted.
The 39-year old Rod Brind’Amour and the 31-year old Sergei Samsonov have been labeled as potential buyouts. The team has already made it abundantly clear that they want to get younger and less expensive. The purging process began in February with the Matt Cullen trade, got pretty aggressive at the trading deadline, and has continued through this late spring with the announcement that the team will allow Ray Whitney to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
My wishes are otherwise, but my guess is that Rod Brind’Amour is safe and that Sergei Samsonov is not. It’s not entirely about the money, but it kind of is.
Let’s start with the cold numbers on Samsonov. His salary this season would be $2.8M, and the cap hit would be $2.53M. The buyout would cost the team $933,333 for each of the next two seasons. The cap hit caused by the buyout would be $666,667 this season, and the full amount of $933,333 next season. The overall savings on the buyout would be $933,333, which includes a savings this season of $1.87M. That might be incentive enough.
He’s been a good player for the Hurricanes, but has been a bit of a mystery at times. He experienced a resurgence after being traded from Chicago to Carolina, notching 32 (14/18) points in Carolina’s final 38 games of the 2007-08 season. He put up 48 (16/32) the next season, then added eight (5/3) in the playoffs. Last season, he had a Chad LaRose-type season, recording 29 (14/15) points and struggled at times to find his role.
With Carolina’s emerging young players, the fact that they’ve already got one maddeningly inconsistent Erik Cole on the team, and the top brass’ pledge to have a shoestring budget this season, it looks like the buyout is in store for the nimble Russian. He’s a top shelf guy and has been a nice addition to the team, but I think he’s not going to survive the budget crunch. They’re not in a position where the team feels like it owes him anything. Rod Brind’Amour is a different story.
Brind’Amour is about to enter the last year of a contract that he signed when he was already more than 35 years old. This means that the Canes wouldn’t get a break on the buyout. His actual salary is going to be $3.0M, but there’s a cap hit of $3.6. The Hurricanes would be on the hook for every penny of it, and would not get to spread it out over two seasons.
Although his role has been greatly diminished, he’s made it clear that he doesn’t want to “retire” and he wants to play out this contract. Jim Rutherford has always been loyal to his own, and anyone in Caniac nation will understand that they owe him this final season. A buyout wouldn’t save any money and it would make relations between Brind’Amour and the club a little awkward. This is a business, but sometimes, it’s about the people. I’ve said and written some unflattering things about Rod Brind’Amour, but he’s done more for this franchise than anyone not named Ron Francis. He was a huge part of bringing the Cup to Carolina in 2006, and the fans and the top brass don’t forget that. And not to beat the point to death, but the buyout wouldn’t help the team at all financially.
He’ll be safe from buyout, and he’ll most likely play the majority of the season as a fourth line center and a faceoff specialist. And he’ll get to wrap up his season in style. He’ll probably announce at some time in January that this will be his last season, and the Canes fans will be allowed to give him a proper send-off.
I don’t suspect that the Samsonov buyout will happen today, but I’d take the money to Las Vegas that it will happen at some point in the two week period.
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David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.