It's the fourth of July, the day Americans celebrate freedom. Freedom from tyranny. Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech, which includes our comments section. And today, for our purposes, freedom from bad contracts.
When the NHL lockout ended two years ago (thanks to me, and this video), the cap dropped, necessitating the shedding of a handful of poor contracts signed before the stoppage. Now, mormally, buyouts count against the cap, but Gary Bettman took pity on his teams, and gave each club two buyouts that wouldn't.
Of the 60 possible amnesty buyouts, 28 were used, for a total of $176.9 million, although these numbers would have been way higher if teams were allowed to trade their unused buyouts to the Philadelphia Flyers. Or, in a much cooler twist, just exile all these players to a 31st team, which, for our purposes, we'll call The Las Vegas Compliance. Here is their sweater:
And here is their roster.
Ryan Malone - Mikhail Grabovski - Daniel Briere
Ville Leino - Vincent Lecavalier - Rostislav Olesz
Jordin Tootoo - Scott Gomez - Aaron Rome
I like the center depth of the Compliance. Brad Richards isn't really first line center material anymore, but Richards, Grabovski, Lecavalier, Gomez? I'm fine with that depth chart.
Plus you've got the skilled Havlat and possession wizard David Booth on line 1. They may not score, since scoring isn't what gets you on this team, but they're better players than most people think, especially now that they're out from under the contracts that called for more production than they could muster.
I converted Aaron Rome to forward to flesh out the lines. Whatever. That fourth line isn't getting off the bench.
Christian Ehrhoff - Tom Gilbert
Jeff Schultz - Keith Ballard
Ed Jovanovski - Shane O'Brien
I like this top pairing a lot. Ehrhoff is a decent first-pairing guy, and Gilbert is an underrated puck-mover. This team won't have trouble getting into the offensive zone, so long as those guys are on the ice.
Granted, when they're not, the Compliance won't be leaving the defensive zone. Keith Ballard in your top-four is never a good sign, Jovanovski appears to be out of gas, and Shane O'Brien? Well, he's really only there to keep the room light.
Not much choice here for my goalie tandem. Bryz and the Moose were the only two goalies to receive buyouts. But I'm happy about that. Hedberg is a career backup, and the Las Vegas Compliance gets Bryzgalov quotes. This is the best team ever.
Well, not really. They're pretty mediocre. But they might be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference.