Lecavalier tops 25 most expensive NHL buyouts

Vincent Lecavalier spoke for the first time about his buyout by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The 2014 NHL buyout season is in the books, and so is the second and final summer in which general managers were permitted to use compliance buyouts.

While we once thought Alexei Yashin’s deal would be the long-standing No. 1, he’s not even in the top three anymore. My how the times change.

Without further ado, here is a look at the 25 priciest buyouts of all time. All figures are according to CapGeek.

25. Tomas Kaberle, Montreal Canadiens
The Carolina Hurricanes signed Kaberle to a three-year, $12.75-million deal, then dealt him to Montreal after just 29 games. Kaberle played just 53 games over two seasons in Montreal before Marc Bergevin and Co. used a compliance buyout for two years and $3 million. Kaberle played in Kladno of the Czech Republic League this past season.

24. Sheldon Souray, Edmonton Oilers
Folks might remember Mr. Souray as the last big-time free agent to sign in Edmonton, but Oilers fans will remember him as a colossal bust. Souray signed for five years at $27 million but only played 144 games over three seasons in Edmonton. The Oilers spent $3 million to buy out his final two years, yet Souray has since caught on with the Ducks.

23. Scott Gomez, Montreal Canadiens
Canadiens fans could quip that Gomez burned them twice. After Montreal traded Ryan McDonagh to pick up the former all-star, Gomez registered only 108 points in 196 games. Gomez’s contract is worth $3 million over three years.

22. David Booth, Vancouver Canucks
A 31-goal season landed Booth a fat six-year, $25.5-million contract from the Florida Panthers after the 2008-09 season. Yet, in Year 3 of that deal, the Panthers offed Booth to Vancouver, and he netted just 26 goals in 134 games in his new uniform, winding up on Vancouver’s fourth line before the Canucks burned their second compliance buyout on the deal’s final year. Booth will make $3.167 million over the next two years.

21. Danny Briere, Philadelphia Flyers
The first of two Flyers. Philadelphia bought out the veteran who had spent his previous six seasons in Philadelphia. Briere was minus-13 in 2013 and was bought out for $3.33 million. But the playoff hero caught on in Montreal and guided the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference final this season.

20. Wade Redden, New York Rangers
Many remember Redden’s deal, a six-year contract worth $39 million, in which the Lloydminster, Sask., native played just 156 games before being cast off to Hartford/Connecticut of the AHL. Redden’s final three years were erased as part of New York’s first amnesty buyout. Still, he will get paid for nothing as he announced his retirement on Jan. 9 after failing to catch on with an NHL team in 2013-14.

19. Chris Drury, New York Rangers
Ah, the Rangers portion of the program. With the Buffalo Sabres, Drury helped eliminate the Rangers in the 2007 postseason, and New York signed the Trumbull, Conn., native to a fat five-year, $35.25-million contract. Yet Drury scored only 62 goals in three-plus years, and his deal was bought for $3.33 million over two years.

18. Martin Havlat, San Jose Sharks
The former 30-goal scorer signed a six-year, $30-million deal in Minnesota after the 2008-09 season. He was the centerpiece of the Dany Heatley trade from San Jose — quick aside, how did that deal work out for both sides? — but netted just 27 goals in three seasons in the Bay Area. The winger will make $4 million over two years to not play for the Sharks. He wasted no time finding a new job with the Devils.

17. Bill Guerin, Dallas Stars
Guerin signed a five-year deal worth about $40 million in 2002 and recorded 159 points in three seasons. The Stars bought the final two years out for $4.49 million, yet Guerin wasn’t finished, as he helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 2009.

16. Mike Commodore, Blue Jackets
Commodore’s tough play and intriguing hair made him a fan favourite with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Still, Commodore only played 77 games over the final two seasons of his five-year, $18.75-million deal and was bought out for $4.56 million after the the 2010-11 season.

15. Tim Gleason, Toronto Maple Leafs
Needing to shore up its defence, Toronto dealt John-Michael Liles to the Hurricanes for the stay-at-home defenceman. Yet the 31-year-old was minus-14 in only 39 games and could be considered one of the scapegoats for the Leafs’ epic late-season collapse. Signed through 2016, Gleason was bought out for $5.33 million over the next four seasons and rejoined the Hurricanes at a lower rate.

14. Mark Parrish, Minnesota Wild
Parrish signed a five-year, $13.25-million deal with the Minnesota Wild before the 2006-07 season but only registered 69 points in 142 games. Parrish’s final three years were bought for $5.56 million over six years after the 2008 season — he’s still on the Wild payroll for next season.

13. Keith Ballard, Vancouver Canucks
The Florida Panthers extended the hard-nosed defenceman with a six-year, $25.2-million deal before 2009-10 but then dealt him to Vancouver after just one season. And while points were not Ballard’s game, he managed just 16 in three seasons in Vancouver while falling to the ranks of the healthy scratch at age 30. Vancouver used a compliance buyout on Ballard, choosing to pay him $5.6 million over four seasons.

12. Anton Volchenkov, New Jersey Devils
The Devils signed “The A Train” to a big six-year, $25.5-million deal in the 2010 off-season, but Volchenkov could not stay healthy in the Garden State, missing at least 11 games in every season with the Devils. With a wealth of young defence prospects in their system, the Devils bought out the 32-year-old defenceman for $5.67 million over the next four seasons. Volchenkov signed on with the Nashville Predators less than a week later.

11. Darcy Tucker, Toronto Maple Leafs
Tucker had his share of controversial moments as a Maple Leaf, but after the second year of his four-year, $12-million deal with Toronto, his shtick had run thin. The Leafs bought out Tucker for $6 million over six years, which finally came off the books this season.

10. Vinny Prospal, Tampa Bay Lightning
Prospal prospered in two prior stints in St. Pete, so the Lightning signed him for four years and $14 million before the 2008-09 season. That move backfired, as Prospal recorded 45 points and was minus-20 in 82 games. The Lightning still owe Prospal $1.16 million — against the salary cap, too — for next season, even though he’s now a scout in the Rangers’ organization.

9. Ville Leino, Buffalo Sabres
Hoping to make a splash, the Sabres signed Leino to a six-year, $27-million deal before 2011-12. Buffalo got exactly 10 goals and 46 points in 137 games over three seasons, as Leino did not even net a goal in 2013-14. The Sabres, well below the salary cap, decided to pay Leino $7.33 million over six years to wipe out the winger’s deal.

8. Mike Ribeiro, Arizona Coyotes
Ribeiro’s four-year, $22-million contract was among the Coyotes’ first under new ownership. His $11.6-million buyout over six years is the club’s first under the Arizona Coyotes moniker. Ribeiro was brought in to aid a slumping offensive club, but he actually managed more points in Washington in a 48-game season (49) than he did in an 82-game season in the desert (47).

7. Christian Ehrhoff, Buffalo Sabres
After posting a 50-point season in the Vancouver Canucks’ run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011, Ehrhoff signed a 10-year deal with the Sabres. As Buffalo moved to a youth movement in 2014, it bought out the 32-year-old defenceman with its second compliance buyout — $12 million over the next 14 years. Ehrhoff quickly signed to the Pittsburgh Penguins as a free agent.

6. Mikhail Grabovski, Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs forward had the right brand of skill and truculence during the Brian Burke era in Toronto, and consecutive 50-point seasons earned Grabovski a five-year, $27.5-million deal after the 2011-12 season. Grabovski gained just 18 points in 55 games — including all seven playoff games in 2012-13 — and was bought out for $14.33 million over eight years.

5. Alexei Yashin, New York Islanders
Mike Milbury, the genius, decided it’d be a cracking idea to sign Yashin to a 10-year, $87.5-million contract after trading Zdeno Chara (yes, that Zdeno Chara), Bill Muckalt and the draft pick that became Jason Spezza for the Russian superstar. Yashin never scored more than 32 goals or recorded more than 75 points with the Isles and was subsequently bought out for $17.6 million over eight years after the 2007 season. Yashin will still be on New York’s payroll in 2014-15. And that still looks sane compared to…

4. Brad Richards, New York Rangers
It was a mild surprise when Richards was not bought out last summer after his dreadful playoff performance. However, this year the guillotine fell hard on the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner’s nine-year, $60-million deal. Despite significant talk of his revival this season, Richards’ regular-season numbers were worse than last year’s — his point-per-game totals have dropped every season since 2009-10. He ended up on the Rangers’ fourth line by the Stanley Cup Final. It was only a matter of time. Richards will be 46 when he stops receiving checks from the Rangers, who are out of compliance buyouts.

3. Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia Flyers
Bryz, who was a stalwart in Phoenix, signed a nine-year, $51-million deal with Philadelphia and played decently in 2011-12, winning 33 games and backstopping Philly to the playoffs. However, the wheels came off in 2013, as Bryzgalov posted just a .900 save percentage and a 2.79 goals-against average. Philadelphia will pay Bryzgalov $23 million over 14 years to keep him from acting like a space cadet in a Flyers uniform. Do the math: he’ll be on Philadelphia’s payroll until 2028.

2. Rick DiPietro, Islanders
Dipietro’s contract spawned the mid-2000s mega contracts — though to be fair, DP’s deal was 15 years, $67.5 million with a $4.5 million salary every season. DiPietro spent 10 seasons with the Isles and signed his contract before the 2006-07 season. He led the Isles to the playoffs that year, but various injuries limited him to just 50 games over the final five seasons of his deal before New York bought him out after the 2013 season. DiPietro will make $24 million over 16 seasons until the 2028-29 season, which means his Islanders tenure will span 28 seasons.

1. Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning
The franchise’s captain, all-time leader in games, goals and shots was told after the 2013 season that his services would no longer be required. Lecavalier signed an 11-year, $85-million deal with the Lightning before 2009-10, then just four seasons — and a trip to the conference finals — later, he was a victim of a compliance buyout. Lecavalier caught on with the Flyers, signing a five-year deal last summer, but the forward will be on the Lightning’s payroll until he is 47.