With the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs, the start of the off-season comes. At the very start of the off-season is the buy-out window, which will also feature compliance buy-outs for the second season in a row. For a team like Edmonton, that needs so much help, could a player that gets bought out help fill some holes? It’s possible, and there is going to be some talent out there this year.
Let’s look at the most likely buy-out candidates and if they could help this Oilers roster.
Chris Kelly – Boston Bruins – Center: The Bruins are entering a bad spot cap wise, and could be inclined to dump one of their overpaid bottom-six forwards. The B’s will have to re-sign a number of players, and make upgrades on an estimated $9 M in cap space. Add in rumors that bonuses put them over the cap last year and they will have to pay those this year, and it’s clear to see they need relief here.
Kelly is a good player, but at $3 M per season he is overpaid. He’s decent offensively, and is very good defensively, is great in the circle, great on the PK, and is a good guy in the room by all accounts. The B’s considered buying him out last year, and the team proved it could survived without him, as he missed time with injury this year.
If Kelly were to get bought out, he’d be a decent bottom-six center for Edmonton at the right price. He’s still a good NHL player.
Brad Richards – New York Rangers – Center: Richards is the biggest name on this list, but there is a reason he is on the list for a second season in a row. Richards has a ton of talent, but he is starting to slow down, and he struggled for stretches during the Rangers run to the Cup Final this spring. Richards has a massive contract and has declining point production, a bad mix.
The Rangers need some cap space, and will need to add a big gun offensively this summer, and the cash tied up by Richards could give them that player. A buy-out is likely here.
This is a player that could very well help Edmonton out, but only at the right price. Richards would be a great role model for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and is still producing at a top-six rate. He’s not the player he once was, point wise or advanced stats wise, but he is still a good player that can play top-six minutes. Again, if the money is right, Edmonton should be all over him.
Ville Leino – Buffalo Sabres – Forward: Maybe the worst contract in Sabre history, Leino has been one of the biggest busts in free agent history after signing a monster deal a few July’s ago. He scored a grand total of zero goals in 58 games this season, and finished with just 15 points, an awful year by anyone’s standards.
He’s been terrible since signing on with Buffalo in nearly every regard, maxing out at just 25 points in 71 games in his first year. His Corsi For % has been in the low 40’s as well the last two years, and he is barely a solid NHL’er at this point.
His career has fallen off of the cliff, and he will likely have to rebuild it on a short term contract, or even in Europe next season. The Oilers don’t have room for a small player who has bad possession numbers and can’t score. This is one buy-out candidate with no use for the team.
Marty Havlat – San Jose Sharks – Winger: Whether he is a buy-out or a trade we aren’t sure, but Havlat is done in San Jose, the Sharks have said as much. Havlat is on the down-swing, and hasn’t been the same player since he left Chicago a few years back. He had only 22 points this year, with twelve of them being goals, but it came in 48 games.
His Corsi For % was pretty good at 50.3%, but playing for the Sharks makes it better than it looks, and to be honest that isn’t a great number for a team that was a juggernaut during the regular season. He was awful in the one playoff game he got into, and he clearly was no longer a trusted option in San Jose.
He was a healthy scratch at times and wasn’t trusted like he used to be, while his Corsi For % and point totals started to decline. Marty Havlat was a good player, but it’s clear he is on the back nine. He doesn’t exactly help the Oilers anywhere, and the team should pass on him.
David Booth – Vancouver Canucks – Winger: Seen as a major get when he was acquired, David Booth has struggled in a big way offensively in Vancouver. His Corsi For % is pretty good, as he was at 52% on a non-playoff team in 66 games this past season. He was over 60% in 2012-13, but only played in 12 games that year.
Offensively, he’s struggled. During an injury riddle 2013 shortened season, he scored three points in 12 games, and this past year registered only 19 in 66 games. That’s ten goals total (one in 2013, nine this year) in his last full season. Injuries have also played a big factor here as well, as Booth just can’t stay healthy anymore.
That all being said, Booth has decent size and isn’t exactly an old player, in fact he is only 29 years old. He’s still got talent, and his advanced stats are pretty good. He could use a change of scenery, and could be a good bounce-back bet on a small, low-risk deal.
To me, a guy like Booth, with good offensive potential, size and other intangibles is a decent risk contract, and I’d consider him for a bottom six role in Edmonton.