written by @iancmclaren
One of the more interesting aspects of a potential new NHL CBA for the average hockey fan is the possibility of an amnesty clause, which, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, is very much a possibility when all is said and done:
What an amnesty clause would do for clubs willing to exercise it is essentially allow for a one-time buyout of undesirable contracts with no accompanying salary cap penalty. Think of it as a reverse Boxing Day sale; instead of purchasing quality goods at rock bottom prices, NHL owners would be ridding themselves of a player who is either under performing or who possesses a regrettable contract, or some combination of both.
Rick Dipietro on Long Island is a prime example, the pioneer of the ridiculously long contract who has not given his team nearly a fraction of what was expected of or even hoped for when he signed that deal.
Many teams have similar albatrosses on their rosters, and it’s interesting to take a look around the league and consider other amnesty candidates. For the purpose of continuing that conversation, here are a few Senators who may indeed fit that bill.
With 3 years and $7 million per cap hit left in his deal (via Capgeek), one might think that Spezza’s contract could be one in consideration for a buy out. Based on his numbers from 2009-10 & 2010-11, that is. In those 2 seasons, Spezza averaged 57 points and missed a total of 42 games due to injury, hardly the benchmarks for a player worthy of such a deal. Last season, he bounced back with a solid 84 points in 80 games, and he is without question the best forward on this team when playing up to his potential. By all rights, he will be the team’s next captain as well, and the Senators are banking on the fact that Spezza will continue to produce at an elite level and lead this team in the post-Alfie age. And really, who could buy out a guy with a laugh like this?
As the centerpiece of the Dany Heatley trade and the second highest paid forward on the Senators, much was hoped for if not expected of Milan Michalek when he came over from the San Jose Sharks. After fighting through some injuries and struggling through his first 2 seasons in Ottawa, Michalek settled in a bit last year and put up 35 goals, by far a career high. Based on his track record, there’s no guarantees that he is able to repeat that feat, but it’s hard to imagine Ottawa prematurely cutting ties with he who replaced Heatley. They’ll ride out this deal, but may not get a better return than what was provided in 2011-12.
Under contract for another 3 years, the Senators goalie provides an interesting case to consider. In his first full year in Ottawa, Anderson almost doubled his previous high in games started, with 33 wins, a 2.83 GAA & .914 SV%.
A career journeyman and backup, the Senators showed great faith in Anderson by signing him to this extension, hoping that he could man the fort until Robin Lehner was ready to take over the starting gig.
In case you hadn’t noticed, Lehner is absolutely lighting up the AHL these days, with a .942 SV% & 1.74 GAA to go along with a 5-2 record. Perhaps he’s also getting a bit restless down in Binghamton, as he seems to have a little extra energy expend.
Lehner appears to be more than ready to assume the mantle of the Sens goalie of the present, and with Ben Bishop also chomping at the bit to get some NHL experience, Anderson may indeed be the most likely candidate to be looking for another team to add to his resume in the near future.
To answer the question posed above, the answer is likely a resounding ‘no’.
All conjecture aside, the Senators are actually one of the more fiscally responsible teams in the NHL, and could be in a position to take on some salary whenever play gets underway. Spezza and Karlsson are their best and highest paid players, and are not going anywhere. The rest of the roster is built with quite manageable and reasonable contracts, none of which scream ‘buy out’ by any stretch of the imagination.
In fact, perhaps the Senators will actually be lined up to scoop up some guys that have been amnestied, or make a pitch for a certain RFA that remains without a contract just a couple hours down the road in Montreal.
If you ask me, that would be a Pretty Kool way to kick of the post-post-lockout era.
*Note: All salary information via CapGeek.com