Ray Emery returned to the NHL after spending a year in the Kontinental League, but struggled with injuries and was limited to 29 games. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Adam’s off for one more Friday, so for the final time this summer THN staffers will tackle the mailbag.
A new hockey season is on the horizon, but there are still plenty of rumors swirling, trades to be made, free agents to be signed and rosters to be completed. As we wait to see how all these scenarios play out it’s a perfect time to make predictions. You can check out our prognostications for 2010-11 as we release them one-by-one on THN.com.
Do you see the Capitals going after UFA goalie Antti Niemi?
Chase Pyke, Frederick, Md.
Capitals GM George McPhee has made it clear he wants to give young goalies Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth the opportunity to make it happen this season. Both are 22 and highly regarded. Yes Niemi proved himself last season and helped the Chicago Blackhawks win a Stanley Cup, but there’s no reason Varlamov and/or Neuvirth can’t establish themselves as premier goalies this season. That’s less likely to happen if Washington were to sign Niemi, relegating one young Cap stopper to backup and the other to the farm team.
Moreover, the Capitals are sure to have salary cap issues in the next 12 months as Alexander Semin, Tomas Fleischmann, Mike Knuble and Brooks Laich are unrestricted free agents in 2011, while Varlamov and Neuvirth, along with Karl Alzner are RFAs. As a UFA, Niemi is sure to want a multi-year deal worth close to $3 million annually and it doesn’t make sense for the Capitals to stray from their game plan now. – BC.
Hey Adam, I was wondering whether you had any thoughts on who could be a surprise team this coming year and which team may disappoint with their production?
Alex M., Thornhill, Ont.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I really believe the Carolina Hurricanes will shock some folks. The team’s history is littered with up and down years and when you consider they only won five of their first 27 games last year and still missed the playoffs by just eight points, they weren’t all that bad in 2009-10. They have offense, a goalie who could potentially win a Vezina and an underrated defense, so everything about them points to “surprise team” to me.
As for a disappointment, I fear for Montreal fans. After a Cinderella run to the Eastern Conference final, excitement in the city is high, so it’s easy to forget just how close the team came to missing out on the post-season altogether. The Jaroslav Halak trade is an obvious point of contention and Carey Price has to convince a lot of people he can be a No. 1 starter in the NHL. Carolina and Tampa Bay are two non-playoff teams from last season I think you need to keep an eye on and the Rangers with Henrik Lundqvist are always dangerous as well. Can the Habs hold off those teams coming from behind them? I have a hard time believing it. – RB
Hi Adam, Exactly how does the "buyout" of contracts work? I know that the team that buys out a contract gets a smaller cap hit and that they will have to carry that cap hit for an extended period. But I’m more curious about how the actual paying works. Does the player get all the money transferred to his account all at once? For example, did Alexei Yashin get $17.5 million in one payment or is the payment more spread out, like a downpayment? Also, how do the clubs usually pay their players? Is it the same for all teams?
John Marnell, Stockholm, Sweden
Hey there John, great name!
The buyout process is pretty simple. Every summer from July 23 to 5:00 p.m. EST July 29, teams can buyout contracts (those players cannot rejoin that team for the duration of the upcoming season). Clubs are then on the hook for two-thirds of the salary cap hit over twice the length of the contract. So a player scheduled to cost $1 million on the cap for a season would cost $333,333 for two seasons to buyout.
As for how the player is actually paid his bought-out salary, it’s like any other – every two weeks during the regular October to April pay period, i.e. during the regular season only – and it’s the same for every team.
Thanks for asking. – JG
Hi Adam: Help me try and understand something. Correct me if I am wrong, but Marc Savard’s seven-year contract extension was just agreed upon last winter. So why exactly are the Bruins trying to trade him less than six months after signing him to the deal? All I keep reading and hearing is how the Bruins would love to unload that contract. Shouldn’t they have thought of that before agreeing to terms on the deal? I know the NHL isn’t always the most forward thinking, but this just really makes my head hurt and I’m not even a Bruins fan. Please oh please help me understand.
DJ, Richfield, Minn.
When the Bruins signed Savard to his extension last December, they were probably not expecting the Maple Leafs to finish as poorly as they did and, therefore, that they wouldn’t be in a position to draft an elite center capable of stepping right into the lineup.
The signing also came before Savard’s concussion thanks to a Matt Cooke blindside hit in March.
The reason there are rumors Boston is looking to trade Savard is because Tyler Seguin gives them a young and fairly cheap option down the middle, though he probably won’t start scoring immediately at the same pace that can be expected of Savard. I’m as flabbergasted as you the Bruins would look to offload such a talent with as cap-friendly a salary, but a lot has happened to both player and team in the past eight months that has blurred the situation. This is a perfect example of why players, like Savard, ask for no-trade clauses in their contracts. – RB
Hey Adam and friends, any news on Ray Emery? Is he available to play next year somewhere?
Sean P., Stratford, Ont.
Ray Emery is still very much available. Obviously things didn’t go as he and the Flyers had hoped – OK, things actually turned out pretty well for the Flyers – last year, though he did play reasonably well before being forced to shut it down for the season with abdomen and groin problems.
It’s hard to imagine a guy who led Ottawa to the Cup final just three years ago and is still doesn’t turn 28 until September has seen his last day in the sun, but every time somebody gives Emery a chance, he ends up having more to prove instead of less at the end of the experience.
When a Stanley Cup champion like Antti Niemi and a former – albeit eight years ago – league MVP like Jose Theodore are still available on the UFA goalie market, it’s hard to believe clubs are lining up to ink Emery. One thing is for sure; if we do see him in the NHL this year, it won’t be for anything close to the $1.5 million he drew from Philly last season. – RD