As a rule, even rich people hate spending money on nothing. It’s just one of those things that irks the human soul on a fundamental level.
Given that, there’s understandable hesitation when it comes to the potential of buying out players on cumbersome contracts. Sometimes it can’t be avoided and we’ll no doubt see some cheques cut this summer. In other cases, though, a little creativity could lead to someone on an unpalatable deal getting moved to a place that has more of an appetite for what he brings.
An assortment of factors can lead to teams trying to shed bloated deals, from cap-crunches to rebuilds to a younger, cheaper option squeezing out a vet. Usually, that includes the “seller” in any potential transaction eating some salary, sweetening the pot with a pick or prospect, and certainly asking for nothing more than pennies on the dollar in terms of a return.
With that in mind, we present a six-pack of players of who, despite being a cap concern to their present club, could be welcomed in a new burgh.
Ilya Kovalchuk, LW, Los Angeles Kings
Cap hit: $6.25 million
Years remaining: Two
After a five-year hiatus from the NHL, Kovalchuk was likely wishing he’d remained in Russia last season instead of coming to Los Angeles — and that’s saying something. Fun fact: Kovalchuk’s average ice time during his final year with the New Jersey Devils in 2012-13 was 24:44, a number that dropped by almost 10 minutes to 16:14 this past season with the Kings.
Despite a completely miserable campaign all around in L.A., Kovalchuk, now 36, still managed 16 goals in 64 outings — in other words, a 20-goal pace on the nose. There were rumblings at the deadline that a win-now team might take a shot at him and it’s very conceivable those conversations could be re-visited over the summer as the Kings look to get younger and faster.
Olli Määttä, D, Pittsburgh Penguins
Cap hit: $4.1 million
Years remaining: Three
Määttä has completely fallen out of favour in Pittsburgh on a team that is always looking for ways to create cap space and hits the off-season determined to shake things up. His age (25 in August) and pedigree as a 2012 first-rounder would garner him another look on their own. Now consider this is a player who’s won a pair of rings and saw the third-most minutes of any Penguins blue-liner during the team’s title run just two years ago.
The healthy scratches surely hurt, but some team would be happy to offer Määttä a second chance.