After the NBA lockout of 2011, a majestic clause was put into place. The clause allows each team to exterminate the burden of one albatross contract, thereby freeing the team from the immense weight of an ill-advised decision.
An amnesty clause is essentially Pepto Bismol for regret.
Given the abominable contracts handed out in recent seasons, the amnesty clause appears to be a reasonable implementation as we look to resolve this labour dispute in the NHL. A new set of rules will throw each team into the water and some will require the sweet mercy of the waiver wire to be their life preserver.
The question now becomes: which players will be the amnesty targets, should we emerge from the lockout with said amnesty clause?
Shall we look at each team and nominate someone? I think we shall. Come along, friends.
Anaheim Ducks: Actually, the Ducks have done well to keep their roster under control. Perhaps a trade for a bad contract to amnesty would do them well. Bad start to amnesty elimination fun. Let’s say Francois Beauchemin and call it even.
Boston Bruins: While amnesty-ing certain players can be (and largely is) fun, there is the occasional case that makes me sad. Marc Savard would be the amnesty target in Boston after a host of concussions derailed one of the top offensive producers in hockey. His contract currently carries a $4 million cap hit through 2016-17 for a guy who will likely never play again.
Buffalo Sabres: Spite is fun. Ville Leino was utterly useless in his first year as a member of the Sabres and carries the longest contract term of all Buffalo forwards. At $4.5 million against the cap per season through 2016-17, it may be better to go the controlled demolition route rather than let him burn down the whole damn building.
Calgary Flames: Continuing along that spite route, you will find my Calgary amnesty nominee, Mr. Matt Stajan. There was a collective “Whaaaaa?” when he signed a four year, $14 million deal in 2010 that comes with a modified no-trade clause. The deal may expire in 2013-14 and seem passable now, but hitting the ‘Delete’ button on his deal would be cathartic for the Flames and their fans.
Carolina Hurricanes: Tuomo Ruutu is a good hockey player, but I have a hard time living with him entering his 30s at a $4.75 million hit through 2015-16 for a guy who has pronounced injury history. I know the deal was signed recently, that doesn’t make it good.
Chicago Blackhawks: I expect to catch some fire for this one, but Marian Hossa has an absolutely ludicrous contract. He carries a $5.275 million cap hit through 2020-21 (not a typo), just turned 33 and suffered a massive concussion in May. Sure, he’s still a hell of a player, but that AAV tag is looking worse and worse every day.
Colorado Avalanche: Similar approach to the Ruutu situation in Carolina. David Jones is a nice little player, but $4 million for a guy with pronounced injury history in the wrong end of his 20s. But, as they currently sit $16 mil away from the cap, it really doesn’t matter.
Columbus Blue Jackets: The world’s number one franchise at doing things the right way makes mistakes, so you can bet your bottom dollar that the Jackets do, too. They inherited the contract I would like to kill, so it’s not totally their fault, but still. Jack Johnson at $4.3+ million seems high to me. I know they like him, he certainly played well there, but that’s a lot of money for a guy as inspiring as a clock radio.
Dallas Stars: They nearly got through scot-free on this one, but they came back and sealed their nominee in 360 degree tomahawk fashion with a five year, $30 million extension for Kari Lehtonen. That’s a lot for any goalie who’s not a perennial all-star, let alone one whose health is as elusive as Lehtonen’s is.
Detroit Red Wings: This is never easy because the Red Wings are who we thought they were, but I’d take a pass on Johan Franzen at this stage in his career. He turns 33 in December and is still under contract through 2020. With his playing style and injury history, it’s hard to imagine much longevity awaits him.
Edmonton Oilers: You ever see a price tag on a guy and wonder, “How?” Well, in Edmonton, Shawn Horcoff is the man. He makes more money than Corey Perry and had 13 goals last year. I don’t really feel the need to qualify Horcoff beyond that.
Florida Panthers: Brian Campbell is a good little hockey player who had an excellent offensive season last year. Brian Campbell also happens to incur the third highest cap hit among all NHL defensemen. Brian Campbell is not the third best defenseman in hockey. $7.1+ million? A good 2011-12 does not make it OK.
Los Angeles Kings: They get an outright pass here. They just won a Cup, have their entire roster locked up long term and even with the behemoth Richards/Carter/Quick/Doughty deals have room to breathe under the current cap. You still want someone? Ok, ummmmm…. Colin Fraser because I say so.
Minnesota Wild: The Wild are the darlings of summer 2012, but they still have a whole lot to prove along the lines of being a legitimately good hockey team. Dany Heatley hasn’t shown much along the lines of being a first line player for some time now, and at a $7.5 million AAV, you had better be the world’s best second liner. He’s not, therefore he gets the scissors.
Montreal Canadiens: The Habs have the most Cups on the planet, and may actually have the most contenders for the dubious amnesty designation. Now, Scott Gomez is the obvious answer, and certainly a right answer. Tomas Kaberle is also in the discussion, and Rene Bourque is worthy of the “What is it exactly that you do here?” line of questioning given the fact he’ll be in Montreal through 2016.
Nashville Predators: It’s hard to not like the Preds situation with respect to the Cap. Even with the Suter subtraction they still have a solid lineup and are a mile away from the ceiling. Shea Weber’s contract is huge, sure, but he’s arguably the best defenseman in hockey and means the world to that franchise. If we’re desperate to find someone to amnesty here… Sergei Kostitsyn because European hockey player stereotype.
New Jersey Devils: Anton Volchenkov seems a little expensive these days, doesn’t he? Considering the guy was the prize free agent defenseman a couple years ago, his ability to make a distinct impact on the outcome of a game has diminished and his style of play leads to time on the injured list.
New York Islanders: Rick DiPietro. End of argument.
New York Rangers: Wade Redden. See: Rick DiPietro argument.
Ottawa Senators: The Senators seem remarkably content with their roster which also happens to put them $18 million away from the cap. The amnesty seems a little superfluous for a team that could comfortably fit Rick DiPietro on the roster. Want to amnesty someone? AHLer Hugh Jessiman. Why? Because screw that guy. (I don’t actually have anything against Huge Specimen; I just rolled a die basically)
Philadelphia Flyers: Much like the Savard case, Chris Pronger is not only getting up there in age but also appears unlikely to ever play hockey again. It’s unfortunate to have one of the most decorated defensemen of an era go out this way, but that’s the danger when you play this game.
Phoenix Coyotes: The Coyotes are $20 million away from the cap making the amnesty literally pointless. Even if a post-lockout doomsday happens, they will be just fine. I’m not even going to nominate someone. I will say, though: Don’t mess with Rob Klinkhammer. He sounds like some sort of Nordic God.
Pittsburgh Penguins: For a team loaded with talent top to bottom, the Penguins still found a way to head into a season that won’t be happening $10 million away from the cap. If we’re to nominate an amnesty winner, I’d suggest Paul Martin. He’s a good, steady guy, but he’s the biggest blue line hit and serves as a road block for future top pair guy Simon Despres, and the rest of the blueline stable they have coming up. It would be an unceremonious exit worthy of his Canadian Prime Ministerial namesake.
San Jose Sharks: The Sharks are a bit of an interesting mess because all of their important players make so much money. Picking an amnesty player for the Sharks is like picking which key cog you like the least. If I were in charge, I’d take a long, hard look at Patrick Marleau. Not only has he – on the surface, at least – fallen out of favor with the brass, his production is declining. You could lose his $6.9 million without shedding too many tears.
St. Louis Blues: I love the Blues, and I love their current arrangement. They ought to amnesty the thought they need help.
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Vinny Lecavalier contract is so big it’s practically self-aware, but as I see it he still provides a lot of value as he grows into his role as a checking forward with offensive upside. He’s a tempting amnesty target, but I’d argue he provides more bang for your buck than Ryan Malone at $4 million per year. You can pick between them.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Mike Komisarek because Jeff Finger is gone.
Vancouver Canucks: Keith Ballard is a good defenseman, but his time in Vancouver has been an unmitigated disaster. Time to pack up and move on.
Washington Capitals: The Caps have put themselves in a decent spot with their roster, but the Mike Green contract has emerged as a mess for a one dimensional defenseman who never suits up for games. At $6 million a year you need a better return on your investment. John Carlson is the man with the puck now.
Winnipeg Jets: Depending on how large Fat Dustin Byfuglien (his new legal name) gets he may be unable to play so this would be obvious. Other than that, it’s pretty up in the air.
I have humbly forwarded a whole host of amnesty candidates should the NHL choose to accept the rule.
If you could have your favorite team waive the bane of your existence, who would get the axe?
Cap tip to theScore.com’s chief of web editing (#pun) Darren Kritzer for the inspiration