Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Buy Outs All Around!

Joe O'Connor filed a story in Today's National Post (14/06/06 - Registration required) suggesting the Leafs may be have more players lined-up for buy-outs. The story, Maurice says Leafs must play to contend (who writes these headlines? What's next, Leafs must wear skates to play) ends with this thought:

But while Maurice may have been tight-lipped about what, exactly, the Leafs roster is going to look like next season, he preached the gospel truth in describing what style he wants his team to adopt for 2006-07.

"We are going to play the game that we believe you have to play to win the Stanley Cup," he said. "It's the game that you are seeing now: It's a two-man forecheck ... it's a two-man neutral zone. It's all transition and speed."

It is everything the Leafs, on most nights, were not in 2005-06.

The lumbering Leafs featured a lead-footed Jason Allison, a disinterested Jeff O'Neill and an injury-prone Nik Antropov at forward, while the defence corps boasted a trio of tortoises in Aki Berg, Wade Belak and, before he was traded to New Jersey, Ken Klee.

Belak and O'Neill are among the 12 Toronto players currently under contract for next year. Mats Sundin, Tomas Kaberle, Darcy Tucker, Domi, Chad Kilger, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Mikael Tellqvist, J.S. Aubin, Alexander Steen and Staffan Kronwall are the others. O'Neill, who butted heads with Maurice in Carolina, is rumoured to be headed for a buyout, along with Domi. [emphasis added].

Mark Zwolinski of the Star covered the same event but he only mentions Belfour and Domi as buy-out candidates - no mention of O'Neill.

In an interesting wrinkle, Zwolinski claims the Domi buyout cannot be reduced by a third or split over two seasons, as per my earlier reading of the CBA.

Reports have floated for over two weeks now that the Leafs will buy out the last year of Domi's contract, an option that will cost them $1.25 million (all figures U.S.).

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the total sum would go against the salary cap for 2006-07, since Domi signed his current deal after he was 35 years of age.

Not to be outdone, the Sun got in on the projected buy-out action too with an article by Bill Lankhof that is so goofy I didn't even want to link to it. It's like Lankhof needed an additional 85 words for his column and assembled a blurb, ransom-note style, from previous Leaf headlines. One thing I'll give him credit for is the blurb's closing line. It really should be the new end piece or "-30-" for every sports column in the Sun. Seriously.)

So where does that leave the Leafs and the buyouts? Will they be throwing around buy-out money like Charles Barkley introduces bar patrons to windows or will Domi be back with the Blue and White?

Personally, I can't see JFJ buying out anyone beyond Belfour and I'd give even odds on Domi. He's a GM in desperate need of good news and quick wins. When you consider the McCabe contract negotiations are proceeding about as smoothly as most middle-east peace plans; the Owen Nolan decision is likely to be announced right at the deadline for buy-outs; and the over-riding fact that JFJ is the guy who tendered and signed off on all of these potential buy-outs in the first place, each "correction" he makes just puts another bullet in the gun to his head.

We'll know soon enough. Buy-outs can be tendered from June 15 or 48 hours after the final game of the Stanley Cup final to the end of June.


1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh! Did you write my blog, too?