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Unsavory contracts

Brian Campbell was an impact player for the Panthers last season, but he still carries a hefty contract. (Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Brian Campbell was an impact player for the Panthers last season, but he still carries a hefty contract. (Photo by Noah Graham/NHLI via Getty Images)

It certainly goes without saying every locked-out NHL player is champing at the bit to get back playing. The owners are, for-the-record, committed to getting the game back on ice and out of the boardrooms as well.

But it’s a safe assumption that some team owners are taking solace in the fact a lockout is starting to take a large bite out of some rather unsavory contracts. Here are 10 salaries for 2012-13 that owners would surely love to see become empty chambers in a season held up by gun-point.

Due to a misunderstanding in the editing process, the list as it originally appeared wasn't appropriately ordered. Below is the corrected list.

10. Brian Campbell, FLA, $7.14 million

Truth is, the Panthers sought to acquire Campbell to help achieve the salary floor in 2011-12 and fact is he was an excellent performer. But Campbell’s eight-year, $57 million contract is rich and it has three years remaining after this season. Burning one year not so bad for a cash-strapped franchise.

9. Tim Connolly, TOR, $4 million

The only bright side to a two-year, $9.5-million deal for a perimeter player is the term is short. Connolly had just 36 points and was minus-14 in the first year so a chewed up second year isn’t horrible to swallow for GM Brian Burke.

8. Mike Komisarek, TOR, $3.5 million

The dollar payout isn’t horrible, but Komisarek’s cap hit is $4.5 million and he has one year remaining after this season. The fact he’s a No. 6 defenseman on a team desperate to rebuild makes the burned year most valuable.

7. Keith Ballard, VAN, $4.2 million

Ballard ranked seventh among Canucks defensemen in time on ice last season, which makes his six-year, $25.2-million contract a huge albatross for a Cup contender trying to make every dollar count.

6. Wade Redden, NYR, $5 million

Redden’s on-ice regression and $39 million contract over six years earned him a ticket to the AHL the past two seasons. The Rangers had to pay him $6.5M each of those seasons, but the amount didn’t count against the cap. Because he’s on a one-way deal, the AHLer is subject to the lockout as well which means a bonus savings for the wealthy Rangers.

5. Danny Briere, PHI, $7 million

Now in the sixth year of an eight-year $52 million deal, Briere is a shadow of his $6.5 million cap hit. And even though he will be 36 and 37 in the final two years of his pact, Briere will have value for any team trying to get to the salary floor. His salary those two years is just $3M and $2M, yet he carries that hefty cap hit.

4. Ilya Kovalchuk, NJ, $11 million

Unlike Lecavalier, Kovalchuk is still a premiere producer. But in six of his 15 seasons under contract for $100 million, Kovie gets $10 million or more. Nice for the Devils if one of those is burned up in a lockout. That would reduce his average salary from $6.67M to a more palatable $6.36M.

3. Vincent Lecavalier, TB, $10 million

The Lightning signed Vinny for $85 million over 11 years and this is the fourth of seven front-loaded years in which he’s getting a cool $10 million. In the final four years, Lecavalier gets $8.5M, $4M, $1.5M and $1M. By that time, his offense may have dried up, but his cap hit ($7.73M) will have value.

2. Scott Gomez, MTL, $5.5 million

With a cap hit of $7.36 million, Gomez is a relative bargain with this pay out for 2012-13. But he doesn’t produce anymore so a lost season would then put him in the final year ($4.5M) of a dreadful seven-year, $51.5-million contract.

1. Shawn Horcoff, EDM, $6 million

Horcoff’s production plummeted the moment he signed a six-year, $33-million contract. This is the fourth year of that deal and the bright spot is the final two years pay out just $4M and $3M, which will make dealing him to open more cap space and budget for the young guns more of an option.

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

Adam Proteau is writer and columnist for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His Power Rankings appear Mondays, his column appears Thursdays and his Ask Adam feature Fridays.

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