Four years ago, the Devils kicked off free agency by signing Anton Volchenkov to a six-year, $25.5 million deal.
Today, they made the first move in getting it off their books.
The Devils have waived Volchenkov for the purpose of using a compliance buyout on his deal, per NorthJersey.com. The move will free New Jersey from his $4.25 million cap hit next season and the one following, but the club will pay Volchenkov $1.4 million per year in salary until 2018.
While GM Lou Lamoriello has repeatedly played coy about the possibility of amnestying a contract, Volchenkov always seemed like the most probable candidate given his plummeting ice time (he averaged the least of any Devils defenseman last year) and the fact he missed extensive time over the last two years with a myriad of injuries.
What’s more, his foot speed has been called into question and at 32, there are major concerns he’ll only get slower.
As such, it’ll be interesting to see where Volchenkov lands. A team could take a one-year flier on him to fill out the roster (Buffalo, anyone?) but it also seems like a return to Russia could definitely be in the cards. Volchenkov played for Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo of the KHL during the 2012-13 lockout, and has represented Russia on numerous occasions at both the World Championships and Olympics.
This marks the second of two compliance buyout the Devils have used, having already amnestied Johan Hedberg’s contract last summer. It’s worth noting that, once the Volchenkov transaction is complete, New Jersey will have $13 million in available cap space.