NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 11: Mike Richards #10 of the Los Angeles Kings and Brad Richards #19 of the New York Rangers battle for the puck during the second period of Game Four of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Madison Square Garden on June 11, 2014 in New York, New York.

Compliance buyout process begins Monday

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The unrestricted free agent market won’t open until July 1, but some big names could be available sooner. That’s because the window for exercising teams’ remaining compliance buyouts will start Monday and run through June 30, per CSN Washington.

Compliance buyouts are a special option that teams were granted as part of the new CBA to help them cope with the fact that the new agreement was lowering the cap. Each franchise was allowed to buy out the contracts of up to two players over the summers of 2013 and 2014 without suffering any cap penalty.

That led to players like Vincent Lecavalier, Daniel Briere, and Mikhail Grabovski becoming free agents last summer. In total, 18 players were bought out, per Cap Geek.

For some teams, this summer’s compliance buyout window represents their last chance to safely get out of long-term contracts that could hurt them down the road, especially given the recapture penalty that punishes teams when players signed to long-term, heavily front-loaded deals retire with years remaining.

One prime example of that is New York Rangers forward Brad Richards, who is 34 years old and comes with a $6,666,667 annually cap hit through 2019-20. Los Angeles Kings forward Mike Richards might find himself in the same boat as his role has diminished despite the fact that he’ll cost $5.75 million annually against the cap through 2019-20.

Not all the compliance buyouts will be on big names though. It seems likely that Detroit will buy out the contract of Jordin Tootoo while San Jose’s Martin Havlat and Buffalo’s Ville Leino will also probably be wearing new uniforms in 2014-15.

It’s worth noting that while these buyouts don’t count against the cap, those players will still receive two-thirds of what was owed, with the payments spread out over double the remaining length of his contract. For example, the Flyers are also paying bought out goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov roughly $1.6 million annually through 2026-27 in addition to consistently spending to the cap.

So while compliance buyouts are a helpful tool for teams to utilize, they also require that owners make a financial sacrifice.

Video: Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have spoken out against a late, high hit that Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik threw on Olli Maatta early in the first period of an eventful Game 2 on Saturday.

Maatta left and didn’t return. He played only 31 seconds, and the Penguins were reduced to five defensemen for a large portion of the game. Orpik was given a minor penalty on the play, but the league’s Department of Player Safety may see it differently.

The hit occurred well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck. He struggled on his way to the dressing room for further evaluation.

Based on multiple reports, Orpik wasn’t made available to the media following the game, which went to the Penguins as they earned the split on the road.

But the Penguins have taken issue with the hit.

“I thought it was a late hit,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, as per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I thought it was a target to his head. I think it’s the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game.”

Game on: Penguins even series with rival Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.

Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.

Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.

It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.

For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.

Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.

Video: Penguins’ Letang was furious after Capitals tie up Game 2 with power play goal

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Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.

Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.

The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.

Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:

Video: Hagelin goes top shelf to give Penguins the lead in Game 2

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In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.

Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.

Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.