We were just shy of $125 million in total buyouts on Thursday afternoon, with former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski joining the list of players paid to go away.
And that number should settle nearer to $150 million spent, as the final compliance buyouts are executed on the likes of Hal Gill, Eric Belanger, Greg Zanon and Johan Hedberg today. Meanwhile Danny Briere, who will cash a $3.75 million cheque from his buyout by the Flyers, agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal with Montreal, while freshly bought-out Keith Ballard signed a two-year deal in Minnesota worth $3 million.
Yes, those NHL owners really must be hurting. And the lockout? All those missed gates to take money away from the players — only to give it back to the players.
It turns out the only people who truly suffered financially from the lockout were the little people whose jobs were eliminated for half a season. Nice.
SILENCE SPEAKING VOLUMES
The longer we wait for Roberto Luongo to speak to the people of Vancouver, the more we begin to wonder: What will he actually say when he does?
Luongo has reportedly cancelled an interview on Vancouver FM radio, and also speaking engagements tied in with the upcoming World Series of Poker. Several members of the Vancouver media who are close enough to have cell phone contact with Luongo have all gone down swinging, with nary a quote for their efforts.
Obviously, any type of holdout would result in Luongo being suspended without pay. But Luongo has put more than $20 million in his jeans over the past three seasons. If there is a player in hockey who could afford to force a trade, it is he.
We suspect he’ll have his time in the quiet room, and by the time Luongo attends the August Olympic camp in Calgary he’ll be saying all the right things. But he’d be saying them already if he could spit the words out — and he can’t, despite some homecare visits down in Florida by GM Mike Gillis and ownership.
That’s got to have Gillis a tad nervous, because after Luongo there is not a proven NHL goalie in the Vancouver system. And it is evident that dealing Luongo’s contract is a near impossibility.
SEGUIN SEEING STARS
Finally, after all of those big trades we were promised at the draft, something to really sink your teeth into. Boston and Dallas swung a seven-player deal Thursday afternoon, the first real example of a capped out team dumping salary on a team with more space, as Boston shed $3 million in cap room on the Stars.
“That’s kind of the dynamics of the new CBA. Money is part of (it),” new Dallas GM Jim Nill said on a conference call with reporters. “We’re talking some pretty good players here. Tyler Seguin is a big part of this trade, but Loui Eriksson from our end is also a very good player.”
Eriksson, who may well fill Nathan Horton’s first-line right wing spot, is the best player in the trade — right now. Seguin could change that however. He’s six-and-half years younger than Eriksson, and if the charge from former GM Peter Chiarelli is that Seguin has to grow up, often that first big trade is a catalyst in that process.
Seguin gets to play centre in Dallas. A big tell that Boston head coach Claude Julien had lost confidence in Seguin at centre came when Patrice Bergeron went down in the Stanley Cup final and Julien played newcomer Carl Soderberg in his spot, rather than elevate Seguin from third-line wing.
“We’re looking at somebody who can play with (Jamie) Benn. It’s a natural position for Tyler,” Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said.
“I feel like I can generate a lot more speed when I’m coming out of the zone,” Seguin said. “I’m very excited … to get back into my natural position at centre.”
Seguin wouldn’t bite when asked about the maturity issues. If they are truly a problem however, we’ll know soon enough, as Dallas is a tempting town in many fronts.
“I come to the rink every day always professional work my hardest,” Seguin said. “The first three years of my career have been a big learning curve.”
The next cap team forced to make deals will be Philadelphia, and Edmonton GM Craig MacTavish has had Philly GM Paul Holmgren on speed dial. MacTavish promised “bold moves” and “seven or eight” roster changes for next season, but so far he has whiffed.
Edmonton is counting on dealing with the Flyers. MacTavish will face some heat at home of another team cashes in on Holmgren’s cap troubles.