Today is a special day for a lot of people. Those people are General Managers who can try to fix the mistakes of Free Agency Past.
Sadly, despite the numerous terrible no good very bad contracts on the books (Matt Stajan, Ales Kotalik, and Niklas Hagman to get started) it doesn't seem likely that the Flames will partake in the festivities this year. So what does it mean for Calgary that various players around the league will be saying goodbye to their teams and paid to not play?
Well, depending on who gets bought out or not and how Calgary addresses the inevitable cap crunch this year, it will mean a hell of a lot to the Flames. First, here's the list of the top ten buyout candidates according to The Hockey News:
1. Chris Drury , Rangers (not happening due to a knee inflammation)
2. Sheldon Souray, Edmonton Oilers
3. J-P Dumont, Nashville Predators
4. Mike Commodore, Columbus Blue Jackets
5. Rostislav Olesz, Florida Panthers
6. Cam Barker, Minnesota Wild
7. Jason Blake, Anaheim Ducks
8. Nikolai Khabibulin, Edmonton Oilers
9. Jody Shelley, Philadelphia Flyers
10. David Clarkson, New Jersey Devils
Now it's clear the Flames are going to have to place someone in the minors at the very least. Cap space is an absolute necessity, and depending on the contract we're all assuming Alex Tanguay is going to sign, it might even be more of a necessity. So how do you replace a replacement level player (which all the usual suspects for reassignment to minors are)? By signing one who's significantly cheaper. Say, for instance, Cory Sarich is sent to the Heat to make cap room. While Sarich is certainly worth nowhere near his cap hit, he's still a capable defenseman that needs to be replaced on the team by someone. Brodie will likely get a call up, but nonetheless, someone has to come in for cheap.
That leaves free agents and players who have been bought out. So why the bought out players? Simply put, they have something to prove. They obviously won't be getting the same salary they last received, and they know it too. So they'll be cheap, available, and angry.
Imagine Sheldon Souray being bought out- think he'll want to show Edmonton they're full of it? Damn straight he will. Think he might sign a cheap contract with a rival to prove it? It's entirely possible. Souray might not be a top end D anymore, but he'd certainly be worth a $1M contract. Cam Barker and Mike Commodore are two other defensemen likely to have a chips on their shoulders.
As far as forwards go, David Clarkson might not be a bad bet on a cheap contract to fill out the bottom of the roster, Rostislav Olesz is someone I'd be a little more hesitant about, but Jason Blake and JP Dumont could be good signings at the right (very cheap) price.
Keep an eye out on the unconditional waivers today- those are the players that will be bought out. And after that- who knows?