Buying out a contract is the ultimate form of admitting you made a mistake in professional sports, management and ownership would rather pay the player to disappear rather than trade or waive him. North American professional sports are all about profit at the end of the day, and if a player seems to be more of a hindrance than a help you can bet it is being discussed how to release him from the team. This past week marked the end of the first year of compliance buyouts in the NHL, which lets a team buyout a player and not have the subsidized cap hit count against their salary cap total. We bring you the top 10 NHL buyouts.
10.) Sheldon Souray
Souray was coming off a career year after quarterbacking the Montreal Canadiens to success on the powerplay, with 26 goals and 54 points he inked a 5 year $27 M contract with the Edmonton Oilers. His first season in Edmonton he was limited to just 26 games, he bounced back in 2008-09 with an impressive 53 points. After struggling through the 2009-10 season he was sent to the AHL for the entire 2010-11 season before the final two years of his contract was bought out. Souray has since revived his career after a season in Dallas and now found a home in Anaheim.
9.) Chris Drury
Chris Drury was one of the many huge New York Rangers free agent signings that was meant to put the Rangers over the top and win them the Stanley Cup. The 2007 summer Drury signed a 5 year $32.25 M contract. Drury put up solid numbers but could not regain the dominate clutch offense he had with Buffalo. After struggling with just 32 points as the Rangers then captain, knew his time was nearing an end. After a hard 2010-11 season in which he saw just 1 goal in 24 games, he was bought out in the off season. The Rangers had to have a cap hit of $3.3 M for two seasons.
8.) Darcy Tucker
Darcy Tucker developed himself into a top 6 winger who played with passion and always wore his heart on his sleeve with the Maple Leafs. After putting up 61 points in 74 games and 43 points in 56 games Tucker was signed to a 6 year $12 M deal in the 2008 summer. After just one season in which he had 34 points in 74 games Tucker was bought out as the new front office did not have faith in Tucker. Tucker went on to play two seasons for the Colorado Avalance before retiring. The Toronto Maple Leafs are still paying Tucker ($1 M for 6 years 2008-2014).
7.) Scott Gomez
Scott Gomez will go down in infamy as the poster boy for free agency overspending. Gomez had 3 top seasons with the Devils before signing a 7 year $51 M contract with the New York Rangers in 2007. After just two seasons with the Rangers he was traded to Montreal, where he famously went one calendar year without a goal. Gomez was bought out by the Habs at the beginning of the 2012-13 season. Montreal will be paying him until 2015, however as a compliance buyout it won’t count against the cap.
6.) Todd Bertuzzi
Bertuzzi signed with the Anaheim Ducks for 2 years $8 M, yet after just one season with 40 points in 68 games the Ducks were in a bad spot financially and he was bought out. Anaheim had to pay $1.3 M for two seasons while Bertuzzi has gone on to play 5 more seasons in the NHL including 3 straight with 40+ points.
5.) Mikhail Grabovski
The most recent buyout on the Leafs, after developing into a legitimate top 6 forward he was given a 5 year $27.5 M contract for the start of the 2012-13 season. After one bad 48 game season in which he had 9 goals and 16 points in a reduced checking role, he was bought out. The Maple Leafs will be paying Grabovski $1.79 M until 2021.
4.) Alexei Yashin
This one is just special, always an inconsistent player whos work ethic never matched his talent Yashin was handed one of the largest NHL contracts at the time. Yashin was bought out in 2007, yet will still be paid $2.2 M until the end of the 2014-15 season. His contract has counted against the cap since 2007.
3.) Vincent Lecavalier
Lecavalier was finally developing into the franchise player everyone was hoping for in 1998, signing an 11 year $85 M contract in 2009. He was bought out in 2013 and will be paid $32 M over the next 14 years, however wont count against the cap because of the compliance buyouts. Lecavalier quickly found a new home with the Flyers inking a 5 year $22 M contract.
2.) Ilya Bryzgalov
Bryzgalov was brought in to end the rotating door of Flyers goalies but instead turned into the whipping boy of media and fans. After signing a 9 year $51 M contract he was bought out after just 2 years. The Flyers will be paying Bryz $23 M over 14 years, luckily not counting against the cap.
1.) Rick DiPietro
You can’t help but feel for DiPietro, started to show the potential that made him the 1st overall pick but a rash of injuries stunted his career. His 15 year contract become a hindrance. DiPietro was limited to 26 games or less for 5 straight seasons before being bought out this summer. DiPietro will be paid $24 M over the next 16 years at $1.5 M a season.