To start off I want to congratulate the Chicago Blackhawks on winning the cup, you did a great job and it was a great series. Now since the Stanley Cup finals are over, it is time for the off-season and this as I had mentioned in a past article could be a very exciting and possibly confusing off-season.
Right now we know that Thomas Kaberle, Ilya Bryzgalov, Daniel Briere and Vinny Lecavalier are going to be bought out. The crazy part about the Bryz and Vinny buyouts are the dollars involved, Lecavalier will be paid 32.67 million dollars and Bryzgalov will get about 23 million dollars. That is a lot of money to give out just to make sure these guys do not play for their old clubs (where can I sign up?) there are more rumored buyouts out there, but the fact that these guys are now unavailable means the UFA market has become even bigger.
As we know in Canada, Jonothan Bernier has been traded to Toronto for Ben Scrivens and Matt Frattin with a second round draft pick, not bad for a backup goalie when you think about it. Bernier could actually be the goalie that the Maple Leafs have been looking for and it could also cause and issue with James Reimer. Nonis can say all he wants about Reimer, but this could create an issue in nets, Bernier has been waiting a while for his chance to be a starter and Toronto is willing to give him a chance and as long as he can play better than Reimer he will be fine and most likely take his job.
Now this part is not meant to offend the Canuck fans out there, (I really do not mind the Canucks at all) but Mike Gillis should really shut the heck up right now. Coming out to the world announcing that he will try his best to trade Luongo is 1: Old news and 2: boring news that frankly no hockey fan cares about. I am pretty sure Gillis has dug himself a huge whole when he did not pull the trigger on the apparent trade he had earlier this year. There was also the apparent deal with Toronto that would have sent Kadri to Vancouver, which of course never panned out. If any NHL team wants a goalie they might go after Evgeni Nabokov, or Ray Emery who will be much cheaper UFAs then Luongo. In the end he might have to buy out Luongo, although rumor has it that David Booth and Keith Ballard might be on their way out. Maybe there is a team out there that will buy out Bobby Lu for the Nucks, but I doubt it. Gillis can talk all he wants, but until he actually makes the trade, most hockey fans will not care about what he has to say.
I am surprised Gillis and Paul Holmgren of the Philadelphia Flyers still have jobs, Gillis as I mentioned before has blown it with the Luongo situation and if John Torterella does not work out he might as well be gone after next season. As for Holmgren signing Bryzgalov for that amount of money was unbelievably stupid and did not work out at all, not only was that a bad move he got rid of two top forwards to make room for Bryz. You know who I am talking about right? Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, both players now play for the LA Kings and they won a Stanley Cup with that team. The Kings were big, tough, fast, and oh yeah they had goal tending exactly what Philly wanted to be, step lightly Holmgren your job should technically be on the line.
Back to the UFAs to finish off this unique hockey blog, with the buy-outs going on many of the over-paid newly bought out players might take smaller contracts just to prove to the world that they can still play and that their old team made a mistake by cutting them loose. Imagine seeing Vinny Lecavalier signing a 1-2 year deal for a 1-2 million, I doubt that will happen but many teams will be looking a guys like this to help their rosters. Let us not forget Brian Bickell and David Clarkson who will surely get huge contracts for their services and to be honest they will probably get over paid too. This is probably the most exciting off-season coming up in recent memory, there will be a few more decent players than expected this season and a lot of money could be given out, although if all these compliance buy-outs have taught many teams, be wise with the money you spend. Stay tuned and enjoy the off season fun!
You can follow me on twitter @NVincelli for updates!