For the real world and the gaming world, there's a great deal of uncertainty about where certain players will fall now that the NHL lockout has ended. Lots of players are shuffling in from around the world (Switzerland, Sweden, KHL), although some players, like "magic hands" Kyle Wellwood, are probably trying to shed a few pounds about now.
Still, the option that teams now have to buyout two contracts at the end of this season (at no cap hit) remains incredibly appealing, especially for some albatross contracts that certain clubs are burdening themselves with. Some teams could look a lot different soon, which makes for interesting times on the ice and for NHL 13 and NHL 14.
Here are three players that I think are most likely to receive the buyout treatment:
1) Roberto Luongo
Ah, Bobby Lu. He's a great goalie, to be sure, but the Canucks have grown wary of his inability to close the deal in the playoffs. With Cory Schneider doing good work and waiting in the wings, it's seems likely that he'll either be traded outright before the season or bought out this summer. And at a cap hit of just over $5.3 million (on a very long contract), the Canucks will be able to use that extra money in a different direction.
2) Scott Gomez
Good ol' Scott Gomez. Unfortunately for his team, the Montreal Canadiens, he's kind of turned into the poster child for an overpaid NHL floater. That's all well and good sometimes, but when said poster child costs you $7.3 million in cap space, and you're trying to re-sign PK Subban, it's likely that Mr. Gomez will find himself elsewhere in the near future.
3) Wade Redden
Unfortunately for Wade, when you make as much money as he does ($6.5 million cap hit) at 35 years of age, and you're compared against teammates like Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards -- you know, guys actually worth that kind of coin -- you seem like a prime candidate for a buyout.
Other notable players in the crosshairs for possible buyout include: Shawn Horcoff (Edmonton, $5.5 million cap hit), Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders, $4.5 million cap hit), Ed Jovanoski (Florida, $4.125 million cap hit).
It'll be interesting to see how these teams use their two get-out-of-jail-free cards, especially since it's basically telling these players that they were "mistakes."
This seems like it could be much ado about nothing, but Ilya Kovalchuk has still been recently suiting up with St. Petersburg SKA of the KHL, making some wonder if he'll actually come back to the NHL.
According to TSN, NHL deputy commissioner Billy Daly doesn't think so, as the NHL and KHL have some sort of tenuous understanding on who gets to stay and go between each league in these sorts of situations.
Still, there's been no official word on when Kovalchuk will head back to New Jersey, so the question remains open.