LEBANON, N.H. – Good Thursday to you all. As I type, I’m watching a 1987 Kiss concert on YouTube with my lifelong buddy Chris, at his house here in the Live Free or Die state. It’s this concert, from the Animalize Tour. Yes, I saw that tour in person, in Worcester, Mass., with Chris. But it’s time to talk some hockey, even though the season officially ended last night. We’ll start with something on the NHL buyout window that starts tonight:
- Indeed, later tonight, at about 9 p.m. mountain or so, NHL teams can buy out players, for whatever reason they deem necessary. The “buyout window” lasts until 3 p.m. mountain on July 27, one day before the start of NHL free agency. The Avalanche have a guy, Erik Johnson, who is the likeliest candidate to get bought out – but will they actually do that to him?
- If the Avs buy out EJ, who has two years left on his contract at $6 million per, they would take a $2 million hit to the cap for the next four seasons. (Two-thirds the value of the remaining deal, spread out double over the length of the existing term).
- That could solve two “problems” for the Avs: it would free up more cap space to sign other players (Cale Makar, Gabe Landeskog, Philipp Grubauer, maybe Brandon Saad) now, and it would eliminate the need to protect Johnson – who has a full no-move clause – for the July 21 expansion draft. Johnson, 33, would immediately become an unrestricted free agent.
- This is a debate-worthy topic, for sure. I can see both sides. (For the record, too, Johnson has to be deemed fully healthy, not subject to concussion symptoms or anything else, to be bought out.) My hunch is…I don’t know. Nobody has said much of anything on this one.
- While it would seem like a cold-hearted thing to do to EJ, this is also a tough business. Personally, I still think he has good value as a player, when healthy. But, yeah, there are those two words again: when healthy.
- If EJ is to be bought out, I suspect we’ll know shortly after the window opens. That would be to everyone’s benefit, to make the decision as soon as possible.
- What do you guys think the Avs should do? I have a feeling the majority of you will say “buy him out.” And, I get that. Yet, I think if there is one guy the Avs might want to do a favor for, it’s EJ. He’s been a loyal player, through thick and thin, with the team and is well-liked in the dressing room. And, big, experienced defenseman. He’s still a good player.
- When healthy.