Three Harts for the Great 8
For the sake of argument, let’s say the Capitals and center Mike Ribeiro cannot come to terms on a long-term contract for the 33-year-old veteran and are looking for a one- or two-year bridge before breaking in Evgeny Kuznetsov as their No. 2 center.
Would they explore the amnesty market to bridge that gap?
The amnesty buyout period will begin 48 hours after the final game of the Stanley Cup Final and will continue until July 4, one day before the July 5 start of unrestricted free agency.
Each team is allowed two amnesty buyouts that can be used this season or next. Amnestied players under the age of 26 receive one-third of their salaries from the team that signed them; players 26 and over receive two-thirds of their salaries.
The amnesty buyout period will create a new and unusual unrestricted free agent market in which star players may be willing to take one-third of their current salaries because they are already being paid by their former clubs.
With that in mind, here are three centers who might draw interest from the Caps, along with what remains on their contracts:
Danny Briere, C, Flyers, 35, [2 years, $13 million]
Briere signed a front-loaded, eight-year contract with the Flyers back in 2007, earning $47 million in the first six years of the deal but just $5 million in the final two. Briere’s production had dipped dramatically the past two seasons, from 34 goals in 2010-11 to six this season, but he’s excellent on the power play, excellent in the locker room and he’s a proven playoff performer. If Briere is completely over his concussion he may be the perfect alternative to Ribeiro.
Tuomo Ruutu, C, Hurricanes, 30, [3 years, $15 million]
Looking for some nastiness down the middle? Ruutu can stir things up as well as anyone in the NHL and he’s got some skill as well, netting 19 goals and 57 points in 2010-11 and 18 goals and 34 points the following season before hip surgery cut short this season after just 17 games.
Shawn Horcoff, C, Oilers, 34, [2 years, $7 million]
Although he’s nearing the end of his career, Horcoff netted 13 goals and 34 points in 2011-12. A neck sprain and a broken knuckle limited him to 31 games, seven goals and five assists this season but the Oilers captain could be a serviceable bridge until Kuznetsov arrives for the start of the 2014-15 season.