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’s chief of web editing (#pun) Darren Kritzer for the inspiration

Comments (58)

  1. Huh, I thought you were going to amnesty the Isles’ horrible black uniforms. I suspect half the lockout is about never seeing those monstrosities in a game ever again. Sooner those things are gone the better.

  2. What? No Paul Bissonnette / PHX jokes?

  3. I’m going to say this very calmly – leave Patrick Marleau out of this. Thank you kindly.

  4. dont leave LA out, good bye Carter or dustin penner

    • Why in the world would the Kings amnesty Penner? They re-signed him to a 1 year, 3M deal. Amnestying him doesn’t help their cap all that much, and he’s probably worth that amount of money considering the zero-risk contract.

      Carter there might be an argument for if it wasn’t for the famous “the Kings turned into the best possession team in the league the second they traded for Carter” observation. No reason to mess with that mojo, or break up the Carter / Richards bromance.

  5. as a leaf fan, i agree with agree with komisarek being chopped , but what about conolly’s two-year, $9.5 million contract …

  6. ducks- Souray or boudreau haha, bruins-agree, sabres-erhoff, Flames-cammalleri, hurricanes- toss up between gleason and pitkanen, or ruutu, blackhawks- seabrook, 6 mill? if not then yah hossa, avalanche-hejda, blue jackets-Wisniewski or umberger, stars-agree, red wings-if samuelsson wasnt just signed, id go with him, but i agree with franzen, oilers-of course, panthers-i live campbell, if not him, jovanaski, kings-carter or mitcell, more carter, wild-yup, canadians, uh huh, predators- gaustad, devils- mmmhhhmmm, isles-id say rick if the trade for lubomir didnt go through, sookie baby, rangers- call up redden, then use it, senators- gonchar only has one year but id use it., flyers- schenn, pronger, merzaros, briere=way overpaid, coyotes-id go with klesa, penguins- yup, sharks- boyle, bliues-stewart, cuz i want him back on the avs., lightning-id go with newly signed carle. stupid contract, and then still beg to use it once more for vinny, time to move on, maple leafs- id say the whole team, but thats cruel, komisarek yah, canucks-ballard or booth, capitals-wolski, kiddin, hamrlik? and finally the jets good bye dusty rolls

    • If you honestly think that Brent Seabrook is even REMOTELY overpaid given his abilities, age, and position then you’ve either never seen him play or you’ve paid absolutely no attention to the market value of quality top-pairing caliber defensemen over the last few years

      • 6 million to be the 2nd best defencemen on the team, they have keith. Hes overpaid, but not by much, he should be 4.5, max maybe 4.9. How many top defencemen are overpaid? It doesnt mean they are worth it, For his salary theres a top 6 forward and top 4 defencemen, if those said players would take contracts that are actually reasonable. I love seabrook, but to clear space, its either him or hossa. I was going to say Kane, but hes more likely to be traded

        • Love him but Keith was not the best defenseman on the Hawks last year and probably not the year before, either. Seabrook is younger, too.

          At the end of the day if all top-pairing D-men are overpaid in your estimation, maybe they’re not overpaid and that’s just market value.

          Idea of buying Kane out, even if you rejected it later, completely bizarre. Yes, let’s buy out a superstar forward (who probably brings in more money in his name recognition than anyone on the team other than Toews) in his 24, 25 and 26yo seasons? Gosh that makes a lot of sense. I know his production dipped over the last two years and there’s the off-ice bullshit but it’s hard to see how he doesn’t bring value for money to that team. Even if there was no chance of trading him for a decent return it’s hard for me to see why you’d want to buy him out.

    • Mitchell was the Kings’ best defenceman last year. Why in the blue heck would they EVER amnesty him?

    • Why would you buy out Seabs or Hossa? Hossa was a top-scorer on the Blackhawks and Brent Seabrook logs the toughest minutes on the team against the highest quality of competition.

  7. really got to go for Luongo with the Canucks, don’t you?
    Luongo is my favorite player in the NHL, but that contract is too long.

  8. I don’t think the amnesty would allow you to cut an injured player. The team is still responsible for him.

    • I was using the NBA model as a skeleton, and while I couldn’t find a written copy of the clause, NBA teams have been allowed to amnesty injured players. The prime case of this was Brandon Roy and Portland who was not only injured, but had officially retired as well.

  9. For the Oilers I might choose Khabibulin over Horcoff. At least Horcoff can contribute even if he is overpaid. I would also say that Lehtonen just played a full season and looked pretty stellar doing it. Top 10 in both S% and GAA. He’s still overpaid but if he can stay healthy the contract might not look so bad.

  10. I think the Bruins would amnesty Thomas. Savard goes on ltir and they can use the space while insurance covers some of the actual dollars. Thomas while not being paid still eats up 5mil in cap space.

    • Bruin’s wouldn’t amnesty Thomas, they can 1. Suspend him without pay until he returns (he won’t) or 2. They can toll his contract.

      If they choose to simply suspend him, his contract will still count against the salary cap but they won’t be paying him actual dollars and they’ve already got their team under the cap. They could also trade his cap to a team that needs to hit the salary floor but doesn’t have a lot of money (I’m guessing FLA, COL, CBJ, PHX, NYI, NJD are in a position to take on cap space).

      Savard makes sense if his contract wasn’t insured AND you could amnesty injured players. Otherwise well done Chiarelli; but why are you (and the Bruins) part of this lockout?!

      • Not at all. They need cap space and getting rid of Thomas makes the most sense. They have the highest salary in the league even if they rollback and its worth paying Savard if it means getting under the cap. It’s hard to trade him unless they do what they did with Sturm (“future considerations”), which I think is what will happen.

        Savard and Thomas are like polar opposites. Savard can’t play but wants to, so they’ll pay him but it won’t count on the cap. Thomas could play but won’t, so they won’t pay him but he still counts against the cap. Which makes more sense to get rid of?

  11. “The Vinny Lecavalier contract is so big it’s practically self-aware”

    Comment of the day.

    • agreed. This is a great line. Loved the article. It’s funny that there is an article already about Leafs trading for Luongo. Mightn’t Vancouver just ‘scissor’ him?

  12. The real fight the NHL should be waging right now is to drop guaranteed contracts. Make them all like the NFL, so if a player (we’re looking at you Roberto Luongo), manages to land an enormous deal and then decides to quit playing, the team can just cut him loose, no muss, no fuss.

    • the NHL & NHLPA will never get rid of guaranteed contracts. The NFL is unique to all the other leagues, the shelf life of players and the almost limitless labour pool makes guaranteed contracts silly. The NHL just doesn’t have that kind of talent laying around. I mean who would get excited for watching pre-season calibre hockey ALL SEASON!

      • ” I mean who would get excited for watching pre-season calibre hockey ALL SEASON!”

        Haven’t been to the ACC recently, I take it.

    • A retired player already comes off the books. That’s the reason why those contracts to age 45 or so are so suspect: the cap hit is artificially lowered by years of minimal salary that will never be paid out. Kovalchuk’s original deal, for example, paid him something like 95% of the total salary over the first 75% of the contract. He was never sticking around for those last few years. Result – $10 million player at $6.5 million hit.

  13. So Detroit would buy out Franzen. He’s only led the team in goals the last two years. Just saying. Maybe if the writer had given a player who would pick the his nearly 30 goals a year, his cap hit is around 5 mil for four more years, then he drops to 3.5 for a season. Then he drops to 2 million for a year, and his salary is a million a piece for his last two years. Not too shabby for a 39 year old 30 goal scorer. I would say IF the wings HAD to choose a contract to wipe out, I could understand choosing Franzen but to imply the wings NEED to cut Franzen is crazy!

    • Franzen’s cap hit stays the same the amount he makes drops, not his cap hit.

    • Franzen’s cap hit is ~3.9mil not 5 mil. While he is productive in some areas, offensively, he is lacking in others and hasn’t been the monster playoff performer of old. Having said that, I would lose Bert first. His two year cap hit is too high for an over 35. Franzen is second though.

  14. Why would the Flyers amnesty Pronger or the Bruins amnesty Savard when they can just stick them on LTIR and get the cap space for those deals back? Shouldn’t the Flyers be amnestying Bryz and the Bruins amnestying Thomas? They have no other way to get out from under those deals.

    • Because LTIR doesn’t go into effect until the season starts and you need to be under the cap by then. LTIR is good if you want to make a trade in season but not if you want to sign free agents. For teams who spend to the cap like the Flyers, they’d have to wait till after the regular season starts to make acquisitions with Pronger’s cap space

  15. It’s funny, most LA fans felt the deal for JJ was good at the time, mostly due to potential. Then he was traded for Carter and we won the cup… and looking back now, most fans are happy he’s gone. Ok, maybe not happy, but Voynov’s play and a Stanley Cup have definitely allowed us to forget him almost completely. I’ll wager Columbus will never turn it around and JJ will likely take a bulk of the disappointment from fans, and that contract will definitely look crappy.

    In regards to the Kings, Fraser stays!!! Seriously though, we like the guy. I think Carter is the biggest gamble of a contract, and it’s really not that bad.

    • Carter looked fine and as soon as he came on board he stabilized the second line, filled Richards with a giddy joy and helped lift the rather pathetic scoring of the Kings to something more respectable.

      The only contract I’d end would be Westgarth’s as there’s really no room for straight-up enforcers in the league. Even then I’d love to see his Ivy-league self stay in the organization somehow.

      • Yeah, im not saying Carter was a bad addition or anything, just that his might wind up being the biggest gamble as he’s signed through 2021. I think he’s the least valuable of our long term contracts. Westgarth, while I agree is useless on this team now, is only signed for like another season or 2? at around 1-1.5mil? It’s hardly an albatross contract. They could just waive the guy if they need to.

  16. Gotta say, would disagree with a number of these.

    Lehtonen? Really, you’d amnesty Lehtonen?

  17. Gotta say, would disagree with a number of these.

    Lehtonen? Really, you’d amnesty Lehtonen?

  18. So lets have a salary cap and then add yet another way to circumvent said cap so we can cry about how we are losing money come next CBA and demand a bigger share. Yup… sounds like a win!

  19. Bryzgalov for the Flyers, not Pronger. Amnesty for Pronger would give Philly no Cap relief. And the Flyers have no shortage of money available to payout contracts.

  20. Hainsey on the Peg

  21. It is an incredible concept and he need to follow by way of. The acquisition costs might be way down as well as the style follows current trends.

  22. The thing about Fat Byfuglien is that he showed up out of shape last season and still managed to have a career season. Change fat to phat.

  23. Is there am easier answer to this question than Scott Gomez? At least Kaberle produces once in a while and has value on the power play.. Even Bourque had more value at this point than Gomez, which is sad, because at least Gomez tries. He’s never invisible, heed just not worth that ridiculous salary. Nor worth giving up McDonough for.

  24. There is noticeably a bundle to learn about this. I suppose you made certain nice points in features also.

  25. Keep up the excellent piece of work, I read few posts on this website and I conceive that your site is very interesting and contains sets of wonderful info.

  26. I have 2 for the leafs komisarik and Connolly!

  27. How much for the Laughs to buy out that fat blimp Burke?

  28. Can I use it on Gary Bettman?

  29. Some genuinely nice and useful information on this internet site, likewise I believe the pattern contains great features.

  30. Some teams won’t cut anyone, or one of their ‘big’ players. I imagine, some teams like LA or Detroit might use it to tinker a little.

  31. wow top notch work there bud this list is the worst compiled hockey information since the Fehr brothers said we were close to a deal before games were first cancelled. majority of the list was guess work just looking at the highest salary and points not what they bring to there teams.

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