The NHL buyout period begins just 48 hours after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final, and continues until July 4. During this time, teams have the option of buying out up to two contracts in order to free up space for a salary cap that is dropping significantly next season.
With the Dallas Stars going through a rebuilding process and still transitioning to a younger and more inexperienced group of players, buyouts become a very affordable method of improving the team in the short term without breaking the bank in free agency.
The trick with any of these players is they are being bought out for a reason. While it might just be about a big contract, most players on this list are older veterans whose best years are behind them. The question becomes, however, just what sort of value they'd have to the Dallas Stars and whether they'd be the right fit for the team that Jim Nill and Lindy Ruff are hoping to build.
Brad Richards - Center, 33 years old, 11 goals, 23 assists, 34 points, plus-8, 46 GP
Before John Tortorella was fired by the New York Rangers, there was a very good chance that Brad Richards would have been bought out of the remainder of his insane contract that was signed back in the summer of 2011. With Alain Vigneault behind the bench now, there's speculation that the Rangers could give Richards one more season to prove that perhaps it was the coach and not so much his own play that was the reason for his being scratched in the postseason.
If Richards is indeed bought out, the question become whether a) he'd be willing to return to Dallas and most importantly b) whether he's capable of still playing at a high level as a top six center. The problem with Richards possibly returning to Dallas is that Lindy Ruff is now behind the bench, a coach that preaches defensive responsibility and two-way play for his top six and it's clear that Richards just doesn't have the speed to really play that sort of game these days. This is a big reason why he struggled under Tortorella.
Would Richards possibly be a good fit, though, if he's able to be put between Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson on the top line? Would Ruff be able to get him the offensive time he needs to truly succeed? It's an interesting debate and there are many, many other factors involved -- the least of which is how Richards departed the Stars back in 2011.
Vincent Lecavalier - Center, 33 years old, 10 goals, 22 assists, 32 points, minus-5, 39 GP
The veteran center has seven seasons left on his 11-year, $85 million contract that carries a cap hit of over $7 million. Once a prolific scorer, Lecavalier's production has steadily dropped the past five or six seasons, producing just 49 points in 64 games in 2011-12. He came alive a bit more in the truncated 2013 season and certainly had a respectable year in that regard, but there is still a general feeling that he just won't be able to live up to the remainder of this monstrous contract.
With the Stars desperately needing centers, Lecavalier could certainly be an intriguing option -- a leader on the ice who plays his heart out every game who might not have the skill to justify such a contract but could certainly be a more valuable option on a better contract. He's strong on the faceoff dot, he can still play a physical game and he can still be a difference maker on the right team.
Yet the politics of the Lightning buying him out might negate the finances of such a deal. He's the captain of the team and the emotional center for the Lightning, and while the contract is exorbitant the top two centers for Tampa Bay continue to be some of the more prolific tandems in the NHL.
Tomas Kaberle - Defense, 35 years old, 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points, plus-4, 10 GP
This is a defenseman that Stars fans highly coveted just a few seasons ago, who seemed primed to be the top pairing blueliner the team desperately needed. After being traded in 2011, however, Kaberle has now played for four different teams in two years and word has come that the final year of his contract will be bought out by the Montreal Canadiens.
Is this a veteran defenseman the Stars should target? With the signing of Sergei Gonchar and the defensemen coming up through the system, it seems that Kaberle just wouldn't be a good fit these days. At 35 years old his best days are well behind him and it's unlikely he'd be able to provide what three other players on Stars blue line already contribute.
Carlo Colaiacovo - Defense, 30 years old, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, minus-4, 6 GP
It's unknown if the Detroit Red Wings will take advantage of the amnesty buyouts this summer, but Carlo Colaiacovo's name continues to come up in such discussions. Signing a two-year contract with Detroit last summer, the maligned defenseman played in just six games after suffering an injury just two games into the regular season.
Constantly plagued by injuries, Colaiacovo nonetheless has proven capable of being successful against top competition. For the Blues under Ken Hitchcock, Colaiacovo made a big jump in his career and earned a solid contract from the Red Wings because of it -- despite the injuries this season, it seems he's still more than capable of taking care of tough minutes when asked. For a team like the Stars, who might still be revamping a defensive unit that struggled mightily last season, he could be a solid option if he could be signed for the right price -- depending on any other moves made by Jim Nill on defense.
Mikael Samuelsson - Left Wing, 36 years old, 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, minus-3, 4 GP
Like Colaiacovo, Samuelsson's season was maligned by injury and there's a chance his injury status might preclude the Red Wings from buying out his contract. Samuelsson has never been much of a prolific scorer but in theory could still be a very solid third line option on the right team and for the right price. He's proven to be a very good two-way player in his career and he spent four seasons with Detroit from 2005 to 2009; the question is whether he'd be healthy enough for a buyout and more importantly -- healthy enough to sign to a contract this season.
Danny Briere - Center, 35 years old, 6 goals, 10 assists, 16 points, minus-13, 34 GP
Coming off a monster season, Briere signed an eight-year contract worth $52 million in 2007 with the Philadelphia Flyers and now his time with the team has come to an end. Paul Holmgren has informed the respected veteran he will be bought out, and Briere instantly becomes the name that gets the most attention when it comes to the Stars and their attention to bought out players.
Briere received significantly protected minutes in 2011-12 and struggled; in 2013 he was a bit more sheltered against easier competition and still had trouble having the same impact he did just a few years earlier.
Briere's best years came with the Buffalo Sabres under coach Lindy Ruff and there's a belief that, with the lack of depth at center for the Stars, Briere could find success being reunited with the coach that got the most out of him. He's a highly-respected and classy player and would, at the very least, bring the sort of leadership to the Stars locker room that they are wanting as the team continues to build moving forward.
The only issue would be, once again, the addition of a veteran player with the hopes he regains the form of just a few years ago. It's true the Stars need centers, but would Briere still be capable of a top six position with the right wingers? Would the leadership and intangibles he'd bring to the locker room be enough to offset any shortcomings on the ice?
Word is that Briere wants to stay close to family on the East Coast, but with Lindy Ruff in Dallas there's certainly a connection already there.