Vincent Lecavalier. Scott Gomez. Brian Campbell. Wade Redden. Mike Komisarek. Danny Briere. Patrik Elias. You probably don’t need me to highlight the common thread amongst these players, but I’ll do it anyways. They’re all players whose on-ice impact doesn’t, in the subjective minds of fans and pundits, reflect the salary cap hits their respective teams incur for their services. Colloquially, you call them overpaid.
Their contracts are referred to as ‘albatrosses’, which isn’t just because of the large seabird (who probably resent the fact we’ve adopted their species’ name as a term for fat burdens), but apparently a specific allusion to a Coleridge poem. We consider them poorly conceived-of deals that are oftentimes unmovable, eating up valuable cap space and otherwise challenging their respective GMs in charge. They’re the “mistakes” Brian Burke commonly refers to his brethren making the most of on July 1st.
Many of those executives would love to rid themselves of at least one bad contract on the payroll, and if one new wrinkle that’s emerged during these CBA discussions come to pass, they may have the opportunity to do just that.
The potential for an “amnesty buyout” clause is an intriguing one, a provision previously seen with the NBA. In a nutshell: GMs would be allowed to select one candidate from their roster for a buyout, and while they’d still have to pay the player the full cash payout stipulated in the contract, the ensuing cap hit (like we’ve been charged for Darcy Tucker, and will be charged for Colby Armstrong), won’t exist. So, Montreal pays Scott Gomez to leave, they pay him a lot to leave, but there’s no cap hit/trace of his existence on the roster.
If the provision’s enacted, who do the Leafs use it on?
Everyone and their mother’s going to say Komisarek. Of course. Despite his previous history as an excellent shutdown defenseman and the valid indications that he’s a hardworking, tough, standup guy – his tenure in Toronto’s been nothing short of disastrous. And curiously so. When he was signed, the transaction was lauded in most corners for being an acquisition of exactly the sort of reliable, tough, defense-first backend player the Leafs so desperately needed.
Not unlike the drafting of Luke Schenn, whose exchange for James van Riemsdyk this past June may be the one sole factor suggesting a hypothetical amnesty provision would not be enacted against Komisarek. With Schenn gone, the Leafs don’t have a dedicated shutdown defenseman on the NHL roster, and while Schenn himself was no model of reliability last year (translation: it was pretty much all terrible, from the both of them), a more defensively-oriented coaching system under Randy Carlyle may provide Komisarek the sort of opportunity to deliver the Leafs the sort of ROI they were expecting when they signed him.
But, looking at the Leafs’ cap situation as it stands for the next few years, Komisarek’s the obvious (and really, only) candidate. Toronto has a phenomenal amount of money coming off the books after this season, to the extent that they’ve only committed $40 million in salaries to the 2013-2014 season. And $20 million of that is Kessel, JVR, Grabovski, and Phaneuf. The Leafs’ cap hell is a temporary one (if you can even truly call it a hell), and before long, their salary cap situation may be the envy of many organizations around the league. Especially if the cap itself is artificially lowered as part of these CBA talks, the driving force behind the amnesty suggestion since the teams – in that situation – would need a creative solution to get themselves under the new threshold.
So, you’ll all say that Komisarek is the Leafs’ candidate. Who else springs to mind as likely targets for other NHL teams?
Thursday morning links!
-It’s August 29th and the CBA talks are thus far a bunch of snail-paced hogwash, so the top news story on mapleleafs.com is, quite literally, about watching paint dry.
-Speaking of those CBA talks, the NHLPA will be issuing a counter-proposal on Thursday.
-TLN: Jonas Gustavsson may have some mixed feelings about having played in Toronto.
-Also TLN: Leafs’ goal breakdowns by period from last season!
-Yup, still TLN: Steve Dangle interviews Doug Gilmour at an NHL ’13 event. My first question would have been, “Remember when the first EA NHL game came out and you were one of the best players in it? Good times.”
-One last TLN: Danny Gray with “The Essential Toronto Maple Leafs.” It also say “Part 1″, so I assume there’s, like, a series coming.
-PPP: Top 25 under 25 is up to #9, and it’s Jesse Blacker. Getting quite imminently relevant, now.
-The Senators gave Kyle Turris a five-year, $17.5 million deal yesterday. I’m just mentioning it. I don’t particularly care.