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.

Ducks add Konowalchuk, Morrison to Carlyle’s staff

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Anaheim has added two assistants to Randy Carlyle’s coaching staff — longtime NHLer Steve Konowalchuk, and AHL Manitoba assistant Mark Morrison.

Konowalchuk, 44, comes over after a successful stint as the bench boss in WHL Seattle. Last year, he led the Thunderbirds to a league title and a spot in the Memorial Cup. He has history with Carlyle from their days together in Washington — Konowalchuk as a player, Carlyle as an assistant coach.

Konowalchuk also has NHL experience, having served two years as an assistant in Colorado.

Morrison, 54, has spent the last six years with the Moose/IceCaps, Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate. Prior to that, he was the head coach of ECHL Victoria.

Today’s moves after the Ducks parted ways with Paul MacLean. He’d been with the organization for two seasons, serving under both Carlyle and Bruce Boudreau.

Report: Senators plan to keep Phaneuf, after asking him to waive NMC

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It’s been an interesting few weeks to say the least for the Ottawa Senators and Dion Phaneuf.

He was asked to waive his no-movement clause ahead of the expansion draft, which would’ve left him unprotected had he agreed to that request. There were also reports of trade interest in Phaneuf, who is 32 years old and with four years remaining on a pricey seven-year, $49 million contract.

Phaneuf denied Ottawa’s request to waive, and the Senators ended up losing Marc Methot to Vegas, which then flipped him to Dallas in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick and prospect goalie Dylan Ferguson.

Now, it’s been reported, the Senators plan to keep Phaneuf after the market for him apparently to cool off.

What has transpired over the past few weeks likely makes for some awkward conversations down the road.

“They’re not easy conversations when you ask someone (to waive a no-move clause), but he understood,” Senators general manager Pierre Dorion told Sportsnet.

“It was a man-to-man conversation. There was no bulls**t. When we talked to him I explained to him: ‘I said it’s not that you’re the fourth-best defenceman on this team, Dion.’ It’s ‘we want to try to top keep our top-four intact.’”

Phaneuf played in 81 regular season games for Ottawa in 2016-17, scoring nine goals and 30 points. He scored one goal and five points in 19 playoff games.

The Senators currently have six defensemen under contract for next season, with their star Erik Karlsson facing a four-month recovery from offseason foot surgery. With Methot gone, prospect blue liner Thomas Chabot should also have quite an opportunity to crack the Senators’ lineup next season.

Preds’ Ellis says he underwent ‘minor procedure’ after Stanley Cup Final

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Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis made an appearance on a Hamilton, Ont., television station Wednesday, sporting a large brace running almost the full length of his right leg.

Ellis left Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final with an undisclosed injury and didn’t return in what was a blowout loss to the Penguins. He did, however, return to the lineup for Game 6, but Nashville’s playoff run came to an end on home ice with a stunning 2-0 loss.

During his appearance on CHCH, Ellis said he had a “minor procedure” done on his right leg.

“It looks worse than it probably is,” he continued. “Hopefully be back on the ice in no time.”

Predators general manager David Poile had acknowledged in the days following the Stanley Cup Final loss to Pittsburgh that Ellis undergoing surgery was a possibility.

From The Tennessean:

Ellis played in each of Nashville’s 22 playoff games, but coach Peter Laviolette said following the team’s season-ending loss Sunday that Ellis’ ailment was “pretty serious.” Poile said that more should be known next week.

The Predators made the playoffs as the second wild card team in the West, but swept Chicago in the first round and surged all the way to the final. Their top-four defensemen, including Ellis, played such a pivotal role in the team’s historic postseason. Ellis finished third on the Predators in playoff scoring, with 13 points in 22 games.

Carolina re-signs ‘physical, smart’ McGinn — two years, $1.775 million

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After a breakout campaign, Brock McGinn has cashed in with the Hurricanes.

McGinn has signed a two-year, $1.775 million extension, the club announced on Wednesday. The deal carries a $887,500 average annual cap hit, and comes on the heels of a campaign in which he scored 16 points in 57 games, averaging 12 minutes per night.

“Brock took a step forward last season and was a regular presence in our lineup,” GM Ron Francis said in a release. “He is a young player who plays a physical, but smart brand of hockey, and can contribute offensively.”

McGinn, 23, is the youngest of the McGinn brothers. Tye spent last year with Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse, while Jamie wrapped the first of a three-year deal in Arizona.