The NHL list of free agents is growing, with five veterans, including Nashville forward Sergei Kostitsyn, placed on unconditional waivers on Wednesday.
Detroit defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo, Minnesota Wild defenseman Tom Gilbert, Vancouver defenseman Keith Ballard and Buffalo forward Nathan Gerbe were also placed on waivers. The person revealed the list of waived players to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the NHL does not announce these moves.
All five players could have the remaining years of their contracts bought out. The moves were made before the NHL free-agency period opens at noon today.
Former New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro cleared waivers and had his contract bought out by the team. Washington defenseman Jeff Schultz also cleared waivers and is expected to have the remaining years of his contract bought out.
The Philadelphia Flyers issued qualifying offers to retain the rights to defensemen Erik Gustafsson, Oliver Lauridsen, Brandon Manning and forward Eric Wellwood. The Flyers declined to make offers to defenseman Blake Kessel and forward Mitch Wahl, allowing both to become unrestricted free agents.
In a separate move, the St Louis Blues said they have re-signed defenseman Jordan Leopold to a two-year contract.
Teams had until Wednesday to place players on waivers in order to buy out their contracts. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, teams are allowed to buy out contracts of two players over the next two years.
The clause was included to allow teams to free up space under the league’s salary cap, which is dropping from US$70.2 million last season to US$64.3 million. Contracts of bought-out players will not count against a team’s salary cap, though the players will be paid two-thirds of their remaining salary over double the years remaining on their contracts.
The Predators confirmed Kostitsyn had been placed on waivers. He had one year left on his deal and was scheduled to make US$3 million next season.
The move didn’t come as a surprise after Kostitsyn landed in coach Barry Trotz’s doghouse last season, his third with Nashville. Kostitsyn is a six-year NHL veteran who had three goals and 12 assists in 46 games.
Kostitsyn has hinted that he could be open to playing in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League next season.
Gilbert is a seven-year veteran, who was set to make US$3 million in the final year of his deal. The Wild have one of the NHL’s most expensive payrolls and needed to make the move to free up space.
Gilbert failed to make much of an impact with his hometown team after the Wild acquired him in a trade with Edmonton last year. Gilbert managed just three goals and 15 assists in 63 games.
Ballard was scheduled to make US$4.2 million in each of the final two years of his contract. He is an eight-year NHL player, who managed just two assists in 36 games with the Canucks last season.