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.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.

Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand

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John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

First, take a look at the hit:

Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.

Leafs’ Nylander puts on show with breakaway goal, assist on Matthews’ 33rd

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Update: OK, so Nylander’s really stealing the show. This is stupendous.