Colin White, Trent Hunter

Trent Hunter and Colin White clear waivers; How the inevitable buyouts will affect all sides

The New Jersey Devils made a brilliant move when they sent Brian Rolston’s $5.06 million salary cap hit (and a conditional draft pick) in exchange for injured New York Islanders forward Trent Hunter. At the time, the savings seemed simple: the Devils received +3.06 million in space in 2011-12 and then would take on Hunter’s $2 million in 12-13. Either way, it seemed like a great way to clear up space for Zach Parise.

While the Devils did indeed find a way to get Parise to come back for at least one more year (at $6 million), GM Lou Lamoriello decided to tidy his team’s salary structure up a bit more. As Joe speculated when the Devils placed Hunter and Colin White on waivers, the duo of players did indeed clear waivers and thus seem primed for a buyout in the near future. Lamoriello himself admitted that would be the case on Monday. (We’ll update this post once it becomes official.)

Here’s a quick review of what each buyout will cost the Devils and how much they’ll receive in savings.

White, 33, has one year left on his contract at $3 million. The buyout cap hit for White will be $1 million for each of the next two seasons.

Hunter, 31, has two years at $2 million per season remaining. The buyout cap hit for Hunter will be $666,667 for each of the next four seasons.

Robust cap space for the Devils

So White and Hunter will cost the Devils $1.67 million for the next two seasons and then Hunter’s penalty will be $667K for two more. On the other hand, New Jersey sees significant cap relief this season; they’ll save approximately $3.33 million by essentially paying White and Hunter to go away.

If that buyout takes place, the Devils would have $5.87 million in excess cap space, according to Cap Geek. With the free agent market as slim as it is right now, I imagine that cap flexibility will be more beneficial around the trade deadline than anything else.

What’s next for Hunter, White

As far as the two players being bought out, both White and Hunter told Colin Stephenson of the Newark Star-Ledger that they want to find an NHL job.

White might be the saddest of the two, considering the fact that he’s been with the Devils organization since they drafted him in 1996. White was a useful member of the 2000 and 2003 Stanley Cup winning teams and while he has his flaws and limitations, his crease-clearing ways might convince a team to add him as a depth defenseman. There might be some questions about injuries here and there, but it wouldn’t be shocking if someone decided to give the sizable 33-year-old blueliner a chance.

Trent Hunter might have a tougher go of it, although he’s only 31 years old. Injuries have been the biggest problem for Hunter, who only played in 133 out of 246 regular season games during the last three seasons, scoring 37 points in that span. Those are the numbers of a player who barely belongs at the NHL level, but Hunter does have 25 and 20 goal seasons to his name, so maybe he can convince a team to give him one last chance. (Or at least a training camp tryout?)

With those buyout amounts already going their way, Hunter and White could be willing to take bargain deals to stay in the NHL. We’ll see how that it goes, but it could be far more interesting to follow what the devious Devils have planned with their suddenly robust cap space.

Matthews to sit out preseason tilt versus Sabres, as Maple Leafs give him ‘a little break’

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Auston Matthews poses for a portrait after being selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. But No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews won’t be in the lineup, according to multiple reports.

“Sooner or later, he’s going to get in, but not tonight,” said assistant coach Jim Hiller, as per the Toronto Sun.

“The lineups are day by day. They (World Cup players such as Matthews, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk) went through a solid three weeks. It’s a little break, a little down time. There are tons of games coming. They’ll get a lot of ice time. They’ll get in shortly.”

(The report also notes that Matthews is not dealing with a health issue, which is obviously good news for the Leafs.)

On a night when the No. 2 overall selection Patrik Laine is slated to make his preseason debut for the Winnipeg Jets, fans wishing to see Matthews don a Maple Leafs jersey in his anticipated debut will have to wait.

Matthews played for Team North America at the World Cup held in Toronto. He had two goals and three points in three round robin games, but the young North American team was unable to advance to the semifinal round.

The Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at home on Sunday.

McLellan: Maroon’s lower-body injury not considered serious

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It appears Patrick Maroon‘s injury from Wednesday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks looked worse than it is.

The Edmonton Oilers forward was in obvious pain immediately after he went hard into the boards from an awkward hit delivered by James Sheppard just past the midway point of the third period. Maroon needed help to the bench and was unable to put much, if any, pressure on his left leg.

He left the game and didn’t return.

Good news, however, from the Oilers: Head coach Todd McLellan told reporters on Friday that the injury — lower body — is not serious, as per the team’s Twitter account.

According to Mark Spector of Sportsnet, the 28-year-old Maroon is expected to be ready for Edmonton’s season opener against the rival Calgary Flames on Oct. 12.

The Oilers acquired Maroon at last season’s trade deadline, a move that certainly added size and an element of grit to their group of forwards.

In 16 games with Edmonton, he scored eight goals and 14 points. In 56 games with Anaheim that same season, he registered only 13 points before the trade.

Patrik Laine to make highly anticipated preseason debut for Jets

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Patrik Laine gives an interview after being selected second by the Winnepeg Jets during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)
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Anticipation has been building since the Winnipeg Jets officially took Patrik Laine with the second overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

On Friday, Laine, the highly coveted Finnish forward, will make his preseason debut for the Jets when they play the Edmonton Oilers in Winnipeg, as the home fans get the chance to take in the occasion.

The Jets have done a nice job of amassing good young forwards in their organization. Laine, who has the gifts to be a prolific scorer in the NHL, is at the top of that prospect list.

Winnipeg’s roster tonight also includes forward prospects Kyle Connor, Nic Petan and Brandon Tanev, not to mention more NHL experienced forwards like Alex Burmistrov, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele.

Laine enters this season with high expectations placed on him from fans and media, after coming to the NHL following a standout career in Finland as a teenager. He’s aware of the expectations, but toned down the hype with the usual statements of just playing his game.

“Just be brave on the ice and show everybody I will earn my spot on the team,” he told reporters.

Laine has already seen game action this month. Not with the Jets, but with Finland’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey.

Following offseason knee surgery, Laine wasn’t happy with his performance in Finland’s first pre-tournament game. In three tournament games, Laine failed to register a point, despite a team-best 10 shots on goal, as Finland was quickly eliminated in the round robin.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Patrik Laine

Murray: Ristolainen’s good-faith gesture unlikely to sway talks with Sabres

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 22: Rasmus Ristolainen #55 of the Buffalo Sabres makes a pass during the game against the Detroit Red Wings on January 22, 2016 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray tells The Associated Press he doesn’t believe defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen‘s decision to join the team for practice without a contract will have any effect on thawing negotiations.

With a big laugh, Murray on Friday said the only way Ristolainen could speed up contract talks is if “he got all lovey-dovey” and elected to take the Sabres’ latest offer.

Ristolainen is a restricted free agent whose rights were retained by the Sabres in June. After representing Finland in the World Cup of Hockey, Ristolainen reported to the Sabres on Thursday in what was regarded as a sign of good faith.

Though he’s not allowed to play because he’s not under contract, Ristolainen is practicing with the team and also taking part in meetings. Ristolainen is not making himself available to reporters.

Murray says he didn’t see anything wrong with allowing Ristolainen to practice, saying he’d rather the player be in Buffalo than working out elsewhere.

Murray says the two sides are still negotiating.

In three seasons, Buffalo’s 2013 first-round draft pick has established himself as the Sabres’ top defenseman. Last year, Ristolainen led the team in averaging more than 25 minutes of ice time per game, and led Buffalo defensemen with 41 points (nine goals, 32 assists).