I was thinking about the Devils, and the fact that they have a lot of cap space this summer to sign someone decent to fill that top 6 role that the Devils are missing right now. The UFA list really isn't super deep this year. I would say the only people maybe worth consideration are Nathan Horton and maybe Derek Roy. That's not much of a choice exactly. The most significant UFA is Jarome Iginla, who is up there in years and probably not much of an option for the Devils.
All that said, the cap is going down, and there are going to be a lot of teams up against the cap. With the cap constraints, salary dumps will be less plausible than in years past. I am guessing more than a few guys will be bought out this summer using an amnesty buyout. As a result, the UFA market might be a bit better than it appears. People being bought out doesn't mean that they aren't NHL caliber players. It simply means their team will be up against the cap, and their contract is hamstringing their team. A few years ago, would the Devils fans have been happy to keep Rolston at half his cap hit? Maybe so. Ill start with the one most relevant to the Devils.
Anton Volchenkov: At 4.5 million per, and his declining play, I would argue hes the most obvious choice. I think most fans would support this. I feel he could be replaced internally by one of our better D prospects. If not, someone cheaper on the UFA market could do the same thing, say, Douglas Murray.
Next I would like to mention some guys who I think are at risk of being bought out on other teams. Admittedly, I am not an expert on these teams. I know a little more than the casual fan about other teams, but I don't exactly frequent their SBNation pages to know every little dynamic, their prospects, etc. That said, from the outside these guys might be in the cross-hairs.
Dany Heatley: His actual salary isn't bad at 5 million, but his cap hit is 7.5 for the remaining season he has is questionable. His play has declined for the last few years. With Voldemort and his sleepover buddy hogging up a nice chunk of cap space in the land of 10,000 lakes, the Wild are up against it. They have just over 9 million of cap space next year to sign, by my count, 2 forwards, 2 D, and Backstrom. Even if Backstrom takes a pay cut (lets say 5 per, as opposed to the 6 he makes now) that leaves them 4 million for 4 players.. Adding 7.5 million in cap space, for 5 million in actual cash loss is a decent option. For the right price, this is someone I wouldn't mind having on the Devils to see if he could get it back together. He and Kovy were said to be close friends, and were often line mates in Atlanta. That was ages and some off-ice trouble ago, but at 32, I think a change of scenery could be what he needs. Hes got some left.
Ilya Bryzgalov: All tiger blood and bear jokes aside, the guy hasn't earned a penny of his contract. By many accounts, hes a locker room distraction with his antics. The Flyers have maybe 2.5 million of cap space this coming year if you figure Pronger is gonna be LTIR again. While it would appear they have plenty of guys under contract, one would think that after a finish like this year they might want to make some changes. If not this year, than the following year they have some interesting RFAs in Giroux, Schenn, Couturier, and Mason. Matt Read is a UFA then too. All would be due raises I think. Admittedly they would have a lot of salary off the books in 2014 with the departure of Meszaros and Timmonen, but those guys would need replaced as well. Bryz is just plain a bad contract. Marty retiring or not, I don't know that I would want this guy on my team but someone might.
Brad Richards: This guy is under fire in the media as of late. Its a lot of speculation, but some people think hes on his way out. Like Bryz, hes signed to eternity with a contract not unlike Kovalchuks. Only Kovalchuk kinda produces, Richards hasn't. When's the last time most teams sat or 4th lined someone who makes almost 6.7 million AAV in the playoffs? Thankfully, they can no longer Wade Redden him. It would be costly, but the Rags have some RFAs coming up that actually play in Hagelin, Stepan and McDonagh. The following season, they have some very significant RFAs and UFAs in both of their goalies, Dan Girardi, Del Zotto, Krieder, and Brassard, This one admittedly, I think is the least likely for now, but still in the realm of possibility.
Marc-Andre Fleury: This guy might be trade bait more than buyout bait at his age and contract, but I will throw him in here. I think the Penguins have to seriously consider unloading him. Hes the younger version of Luongo. Regular season victories don't mean much if you can't hold it together in the playoffs. I would even argue much of his success is due to a strong Pens team. The cap is about to dismantle the Penguin's team if you don't realize it. I think that partially explains Shero's "all in." They likely aren't getting better. This coming year they need to sign 3 forwards, and a D to have a full roster for 7 million. Two significant FA forwards are Tyler Kennedy with his minimum QO of 2 million, and Pascal Dupuis who is due a raise from his 1.5 million. The following year all hell will break loose, with Malkin, Letang, Orpik Kunitz, Sutter, Niskanen, and prospect Simon Despres needing signed. Would I want him? I don't know. Probably not, and probably unlikely to happen anyhow. Maybe if we let him platoon with his idol Brodeur, well see.
All this is speculation, like much of what we all like to do on ILTW. These players would all need to be replaced somewhat by their respective teams so that alone may kill some of these ideas. Who does everyone thing will end up bought out around the league? Would anyone think taking a chance on someone bought out is worth it? Thanks for reading.