After the lockout, the NHL put in a rule that said over the next two summers, every team can use an amnesty buyout for players they made mistakes on. Some teams used it more than others, but the Philadelphia Flyers used it to rid themselves of Danny Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov so they could sign Vinny Lecavalier and Ray Emery. There are still 19 teams have yet to use either of their amnesties.
The New Jersey Devils have already used one of their amnesties. When they traded for Cory Schneider, they used their amnesty on backup goalie Johan Hedberg. The entire situation was a huge surprise, as no one expected the trade, especially Hedberg. Will the Devils make another move to get a bad contract off their books?
The Devils are in no way in cap trouble, with Josh Harris and his firm holding down ownership duties without having the troubles that Jeff Vanderbeek had financially. On top of that, with the loss of the albatross Ilya Kovalchuk contract, now the Devils have $25 million in cap space for the upcoming year. There isn’t a money problem in New Jersey, but that won’t stop them from using their buyout.
Sometimes, a team will use this to get a player who is bad for the locker room out. However, this does not seem to be a major issue, as the locker room in New Jersey seems to be one of the more cohesive in the league.
Now, you have to look at players who are signed for multiple years that are just in the way; players who just aren’t playing up to the level that the team needs. There are a few players who could fall into this category.
The last reason is the player who has an injury history that may be too much to risk for the next few years. According to that, there are a few players who could be amnestied, the first of which looked obvious last season, but has played better this season. That is Anton Volchenkov, who is on the books for the next two years, at $4.25 million each year. He was awful last season, but has improved this season and is back to the defenseman the Devils thought they were getting. He is getting left alone on a little too many two-on-ones, but of course that isn’t his fault.
Another player who could be amnestied is captain Bryce Salvador. The captaincy makes this more complicated, but not impossible. He is only on the books for next year at $3.166 million. Salvador has been hurt a few times over the last few years, and it has severely slowed him down. This year, it was a fracture in his foot, and what was supposed to be a week long injury ended up losing him two months; that’s what happens when you’re 38.
The last would be a huge surprise. Ryane Clowe was a surprise signing by the Devils this offseason; they gave him a deal that will pay him just under $5 million until 2017-18. He got yet another concussion this season and missed a bunch of time because of it, and it could be an issue the rest of his career. He has played well lately, but how bad is this contract going to look towards the end of it?
I don’t see anyone getting bought out by the Devils, but if it was anyone, it would be one of those three. Beyond that, the Devils love what they are getting out of most of their team. Expect a big offseason from Lou Lamoriello and the Devils.