A gathering of News and Views for your Friday dining and dancing pleasure, keeping in mind that it is indeed the dog days of summer:
NEWS: The New York Islanders announce goaltender Rick DiPietro has been removed from the team’s injury reserve list.
VIEWS: From this corner, this move has more to do with financial matters and a looming lockout than it does with DiPietro’s health. With respect to the possibility of a lockout, the Islanders would have had to pay DiPietro through the duration of the lockout if he were still on the injury list when the season would have started in October. Hence the sense of urgency to make sure he’s 100 percent healthy this summer.
And even if an accord on a new CBA is reached without any interruption in training camps or the regular season, there is speculation it will allow an amnesty buyout period during which teams will be able to buy out the contract of one player without it counting against the salary cap. But NHL rules also stipulate that injured players cannot be bought out, so if DiPietro were still on the injury list, his contract wouldn’t apply.
If the Islanders were to buy DiPietro out of the final nine years of his 15-year, $67.5 million contract at two-thirds of the amount remaining, they would be on the hook for $27 million, which would represent a savings of $13.5 million over the life of the contract. Under the current rules which allow the cap hit for the buyout to be spread over double of what is left on the contract, the Islanders would have to absorb a cap hit of $1.5 million for each of the next 18 seasons, which would take them through the 2029-30 season.
The Islanders have never been a cap team and a hit of $1.5 million per year wouldn’t crush them in terms of the salary cap, but it’s doubtful they’d want to have that kind of millstone hanging around their necks for the next 18 years.
Coincidentally, DiPietro’s contract was one of the first deals the NHL is trying to kill in the future by negotiating for term limits.
NEWS: The Montreal Canadiens offer defenseman P.K. Subban a two-year deal worth $5.5 million.
VIEWS: Not to disparage my colleagues at RDS who first broke this rumor, but those who know what the offer is maintain it was nothing even close to what was reported in either money or length of term.
But it does trigger an interesting discussion on exactly what Subban should be worth. He’s 23 years old with no arbitration rights and his only real leverage is to sit out of training camp and/or the regular season until a deal gets done to his satisfaction. And history has proved time and again that a young player who misses that kind of time often does himself more harm than good.
Subban is a dynamic young player with a ton of great qualities and the best thing about him is he wants to be a difference maker every time he hits the ice. Once he learns to temper his style and pick his spots, there is little doubt he will be a dominant defenseman.
But in terms of salary and term, he’s clearly not in the Drew Doughty or Erik Karlsson level yet. When it comes to comparables, where does that leave him? Well, somewhere in the neighborhood of John Carlson of the Washington Capitals, who’s also a restricted free agent that has yet to sign a deal.
Is he on par with Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres, who signed an extension that kicks in this season that will pay him $38.5 million over the next seven years? (Not sure if anyone has noticed, but Myers picked up a $10 million signing bonus July 1 and will make an additional $2 million in salary this coming season.)
Well, Myers’ Calder Trophy season notwithstanding, the two players have been fairly equally productive over the first three seasons of their career. Myers has averaged 0.5 points per game in 217 games and Subban has averaged 0.48 per game in 160. Neither player had what could be considered a great season in 2011-12, but Subban outscored Myers by 13 points.
Still, it would be a stretch to argue that Subban is worth the $5.5 million Myers is getting on a long-term deal. But he’s also worth more than $2.75 million on a short-term contract. Somewhere in between sounds right.
NEWS: The St. Louis Blues decide to not offer a contract to 37-year-old free agent Jason Arnott.
VIEWS: As long as he’s willing to sign for one or two years at about the same money he made last season ($2.9 million), Arnott could be one of the steals of the summer. He is clearly no longer a 30-goal man, but he has proved the past couple of years that he can get somewhere in the upper teens. He’s good on faceoffs, still has a lethal shot and can play on the power play. He keeps himself in good shape and possesses tons of leadership qualities. He would be a good pickup for a team looking for a third-line center who can move up and down the depth chart as needs change.
Ken Campbell is the senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com with his column. To read more from Ken and THN's other stable of experts, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.