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Potential Buyout Targets

Last Mondays, I'm looking at all things cap related. Last week, I looked at the cap numbers of recent entry level deals signed by some new faces with the Avalanche. We have one more bit of clerical tidying this week before we start jumping into the meatier subject matter of RFAs and UFAs. That starts next week. This week? A look at who the Avalanche might buyout this offseason. This is going to be really quick.

Under the NHL CBA, teams can buy out a bad contract. When they buy out a contract, they are responsible for paying just 2/3 of the remaining money owed and they spread that cap hit out over a longer period (twice the duration remaining on a contract). Teams get short term cap relief, but do extend the length of time that player is on the books. The Islanders will have Alexei Yashin's buyout on their books for 5 more seasons. Andrew Raycroft and Darcy Tucker both counted towards the Maple Leafs cap numbers last season, and Tucker will still eat $1 million of cap for 4 more seasons.

With regards to the cap, the Avalanche are in good shape. Great shape, really. There are currently 15 players who played with them last year currently under contract for next season. 8 of those have cap numbers of $1 million or less (Cody McLeod, Ryan O'Reilly, TJ Galiardi, David Jones, Ryan Stoa, Justin Mercier, Kyle Cumiskey and Ryan Wilson. No need to buy out any of those names. The remaining names are Paul Stastny ($6.6 m), Milan Hejduk ($3 m), Matt Duchene ($3.4 m), Scott Hannan ($4.5 m), John-Michael Liles ($4.425), Tom Preissing ($2.75) and Craig Anderson ($2.1).

There really is only one buyout candidate there, and that's Tom Preissing. And really, there's not much incentive to buy him out. Actually, it would be a detriment to the cap to do so. Preissing spent most of last season in the AHL and figures to repeat that in 2010-2011. While he's in the AHL, he does not count against the cap (although the Avalanche still have to pay him his full salary). A buyout would cost $916,000 against the cap this year and next year - a healthy cap hit just to save $900,000 from the bottom line.

The Avalanche haven't bought out a player since Chris Gratton was let go when the current CBA was implemented back in 2005. This year won't see a change in that status. Preissing is the only name the Avalanche would consider, and it doesn't make any sense to do so in his case. Expect him to be back with Lake Erie next year, working alongside whichever Avalanche blueline prospects that don't make the big club.

Next week, we start hitting the meat and potatoes portion of the dinner. Do you folks want me to start with RFAs first or UFAs?