Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Buyouts show GMs should be wary of UFAs
By Scott Burnside
What’s the over/under on the number of times you’ll hear or read the phrase "free-agent frenzy" in the next 24 hours?
We’ll start at 134,567 and take the over.
But let’s imagine a year or two from now. What are the chances teams will say, "We paid that much for that guy? Oy. What were we thinking?"
In other words, free agency has come to be the time when NHL general managers, desperate to fill a hole in their lineup, generally blow their brains out financially, throwing common sense to the wind and offering way too much money and way too much term to a player they will soon have serious buyer’s remorse about.
We should start calling it the "Days of Future Regret."
Don’t believe us? Take a look at the players who were bought out of their contracts this offseason.
This was the second opportunity for teams to use the compliance buyout introduced in the collective bargaining agreement coming out of the 2012-13 lockout, and the results are quite startling.
Of the 10 compliance buyouts exercised since the buyout period opened after the Stanley Cup finals, 80 percent (or for the math challenged, 8 of 10) were players signed by their teams as unrestricted free agents.
Only two, Shane O'Brien, bought out by the Calgary Flames after being acquired from Colorado, and David Booth, who was acquired by Vancouver from Florida, were players that weren’t picked up via free agency.
Even more damning is that when you throw in the other three players bought out (not using compliance buyouts) this spring -- Martin Havlat of San Jose, Tim Gleason of Toronto (both of whom were acquired via trade) and Mike Ribeiro of Arizona (who signed a big four-year deal a year ago as a UFA) -- none of the 13 players bought out this offseason were homegrown talent.
Think about it. Of all the players whose contracts were deemed for various reasons to be too onerous to continue paying, none belonged to a player who was drafted and developed by the team doing the buying out.
If we go back to last offseason, the results are only slightly less dramatic. Of the 17 compliance buyouts, three were homegrown talent, although they included two former No. 1 overall draft picks -- Rick DiPietro, who was bought out by the New York Islanders, and Vincent Lecavalier, who was bought out by Tampa Bay. Jeff Schultz of Washington was the third homegrown player to be bought out.
None of this will stop GMs from succumbing to UFA madness, and we’re guessing that by next summer we’ll see teams slapping themselves in the forehead and cutting a big check to get out from under the very contracts they will happily lavish on players this summer.
Brad Richards - signed as a UFA by New York Rangers
Christian Ehrhoff - signed as UFA by Buffalo Sabres
Ville Leino - signed as UFA by Buffalo Sabres
Anton Volchenkov - signed as UFA by New Jersey Devils
Ed Jovanovski - signed as UFA by Florida Panthers
Ryan Malone - signed as UFA by Tampa Bay Lightning
Shane O’Brien - traded to Calgary from Colorado Avalanche
Aaron Rome - signed as UFA by Dallas Stars
David Booth - traded to Vancouver from Florida Panthers
Jordin Tootoo - signed as UFA by Detroit Red Wings
Mike Ribeiro - signed as UFA by Arizona Coyotes
Martin Havlat - traded to San Jose from Minnesota Wild
Tim Gleason - traded to Toronto from Carolina Hurricanes