It’s buyout time in the NHL and a number of teams are looking to divest themselves of bad contracts. Montreal’s Georges Laraque was the first and Edmonton is rumored to be the most active with as many as three players on the cusp of becoming cap casualties.
Buyouts are a two-way street though, as the Islanders can attest to. Their highest paid player next season is, ahem, Alexei Yashin and they’d have to pay Rick DiPietro until 2042 to cut ties with the oft-injured, perennially erstwhile No. 1 goaltender.
Free agent season always yields its share of head-scratching, hair-losing deals, but invariably a bargain or two always slip through the crazy cracks. While we don’t yet know what will happen this year when July 1 rolls around, we do know there are some very team-friendly deals already out there for next season.
(Note: contracts must have cap hits below $4 million, only one player per team can be listed and entry level deals aren’t eligible.)
10. Jonathan Quick, G, Los Angeles, $1.8 million
Set a franchise mark with 39 victories this season and earned a berth on the American Olympic team. Signed for three more seasons and even if he’s relegated to No. 2 by the fast-rising Jonathan Bernier, Quick will still be a well-priced backup.
9. Mikko Koivu, C, Minnesota, $3.25 million
The Wild’s captain and Mr. Everything led the squad in assists, points, shots and time on ice among forwards. If he had anyone of note to work with (and, no, we didn’t forget Martin Havlat), he’d be better than a point-per-game player.
8. Keith Yandle, D, Phoenix, $1.2 million
A rising offensive star, the 23-year-old finished fourth on the team in scoring this season with 41 points, led the Coyotes in plus-minus and played 20:13 per game.
7. Craig Anderson, G, Colorado, $1.8 million
Along with the rest of the Avs, Anderson trailed off some as the season wore on. But he still finished 12th overall in save percentage and won 38 games. His play gave the young Avs skaters a chance to mature.
6. Jimmy Howard, G, Detroit, $717,000
A Calder Trophy nominee, Howard was fifth in save percentage and goals-against average. He notched 37 wins in 61 starts and stabilized the Detroit goal when veteran Chris Osgood faltered.
5. Alexandre Burrows, LW, Vancouver, $2 million
The fleet-footed Burrows was No. 10 in the NHL in goals (35), ninth in plus-minus (plus-34), 27th in penalty minutes (121) and is the best combination of annoyance and offense in the league.
4. Patrick Sharp, C, Chicago, $3.9 million
The priciest guy on our list, Chicago’s No. 2 center tied ‘Captain Serious’ for second in Hawks goals, was fourth in team scoring, first in shots, tied for first in plus-minus and played in all situations. His game only got better in the playoffs.
3. Tuukka Rask, G, Boston, $1.25 million
First overall in GAA and SP, Rask knocked reigning Vezina Trophy-winner Tim Thomas from his perch atop the Boston depth chart and is looking like a future star.
2. Mark Giordano, D, Calgary, $892,000
Despite all the big names on Calgary’s blueline, Giordano was effectively the Flames’ No. 1 defenseman by season’s end. He made Dion Phaneuf expendable en route to leading the D-corps in goals and points and the team in plus-minus.
1. Zach Parise, LW, New Jersey, $3.1 million
Parise had his fourth consecutive 30-plus goal season on a team known best for its defensive schemes. He was ninth in the league in goals (38), 16th in points (82, 15 more than his closest teammate), 13th in plus-minus (plus-24) and second in shots (347). He also scored the goal that sent the gold medal game in Vancouver to overtime.
The THN.com Top 10 appears Wednesdays only on TheHockeyNews.com.
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