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NHL buyout candidates

Chris Drury will have a cap hit above $7 million next season, but he only had five points in 24 games with the Rangers this season. (Photo by Jonathan Klein/Getty Images)

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Chris Drury will have a cap hit above $7 million next season, but he only had five points in 24 games with the Rangers this season. (Photo by Jonathan Klein/Getty Images)

The NHL’s free agency season is fast approaching and with it there will be speculation as to which teams will increase their available salary cap space by buying out veteran players no longer in their plans. The NHL’s buyout period will start June 17 and run until June 30 this year. Who is most likely to be bought out? That’s the topic of this week’s THN.com Top 10:

10. David Clarkson, Devils

Clarkson had a terrible year like most of the rest of the Devils as his plus-minus dipped to minus-20 and his points dipped to 18. There has been a little talk about buying his contract out to make room for other moves, such as re-signing Zach Parise, so if New Jersey can't trade Clarkson, his contract may be cut short.

9. Jody Shelley, Flyers

With the Flyers acquiring the rights to ex-Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and the team in tight to the cap, a veteran enforcer such as Shelley (who has two years left at a cap hit of $1.1 million) could be sacrificed.

8. Nikolai Khabibulin, Oilers

Khabibulin hasn’t been a total washout since he signed a four-year, $15-million deal in 2009. But he’s won just 17 games since then and is a 38-year-old whose best days clearly are behind him.

7. Jason Blake, Ducks

The 37-year-old Blake had 16 goals for Anaheim this season. Is that worth $4 million in 2011-12, the final year of the five-year deal he signed with Toronto back in 2007? No, it isn’t. The Ducks have cap concerns as well, meaning it’s time for Blake to move on.

6. Cam Barker, Wild

Although he’s only 25, Barker never has panned out as someone drafted third overall, as he was in 2004. Moreover, he’s scheduled to have a cap hit of nearly $3.1 million next season. The Wild need cap room, so he may go.

5. Rostislav Olesz, Panthers

Yes, Olesz missed 38 games last season due to injuries and only scored six goals and 17 points. But he’s only reached the 14-goal plateau mark twice in his six-year NHL career. With three years and about $9.4 million left on his contract, he’s earning too much to be that unproductive.

4. Mike Commodore, Blue Jackets

Once a folk hero in Columbus, Commodore fell out of favor with team coaches and management last season and was waived and shipped to the American League in January for the rest of the season. He has two years with a $3.75 million cap hit left on his deal and you can’t imagine the Jackets owners will want to keep paying him to play in the minors.

3. J-P Dumont, Predators

Dumont has spent the past five seasons with the Preds, but was a healthy scratch on numerous occasions down the stretch and in the playoffs for them this season. He has one year and $4 million left on his contract, far too much to pay him to sit in the press box.

2. Sheldon Souray, Oilers

Souray, who turns 35 next month, has been worn down by his physical style of play and injuries, but he has one more season (with a $4.5 million salary) left to go on his contract. Oilers brass wouldn’t be spiteful enough to make him play in the AHL for two straight years, would they?

1. Chris Drury, Rangers

He’s had a stellar decade-plus in the NHL, but Drury’s massive cap hit - $7.05 million for one more season - has him square in the sights of a Rangers team that needs to pare down costs wherever possible. His career isn’t over, but at that price tag, it’s almost certainly over in Manhattan.

 

The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.

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