Todd Bertuzzi has cleared unconditional waivers and the Ducks will now buy out the final year of his contract.
According to the terms of the collective-bargaining agreement, the Ducks are responsible for paying two-thirds of the $4 million Bertuzzi was due to make this year. The team is allowed to spread that payment over the next two years, meaning they are responsible for $1.33 million against the salary cap each of the next two seasons.
The 33-year-old Bertuzzi, who signed with the Ducks last offseason, missed 14 games with a concussion and finished with 14 goals and 40 points in 68 games.
“Todd Bertuzzi is a quality person who we believe can still play at the NHL level,” said Executive Vice President/General Manager Brian Burke. “Unfortunately, we are handcuffed by our salary cap situation. We thank him for his efforts last year and wish him the best of luck in the future.”Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Brian Burke spoke to the media Friday afternoon about the Bertuzzi waiving:
It’s a tough day for me. Obviously, I’ve been through a lot of battles with Todd Bertuzzi. He played some great hockey for me. We reacted a year ago to a couple of situations. Our success and our desire to win got us into a jam financially. This is dictated by our cap situation and our budget situation. Nothing more or nothing less. I think Todd came to camp in phenomenal shape. He worked hard for us. He was good with our kids. At the end of the day, given where we are, I can’t justify him being on the team at that number. I predict he will play in the NHL next year for someone else and will play well.
On if Bertuzzi would not have been waived if the team had better financial flexibility:
Yes. There’s no beef with the player whatsoever. I do this with a heavy heart.
On the chance of Bertuzzi getting picked up off waivers:
I think he’ll pass because of the financial side of this. I believe he’ll sail through. I hope for his sake he doesn’t. Then, we intend to kick in the buyout provisions. This has been communicated to his agent. I called Todd to speak to him myself this morning. I didn’t reach him. I left him a voicemail. I think someone will sign him. He will be in the NHL and he will be an effective player. I don’t think it will be at $4 million.
On the cap hit if Bertuzzi is bought out:
The payment and cap hit are over two years. It will be roughly $1.3, $1.35 million this year and next. It improves our cap situation around $2.7 million this year. It goes from $4 million to $1.333 million. That’s our improvement on cap side. He gets paid like a player over the next two years, I think.
On the possibility of re-signing Bertuzzi at a smaller salary after being bought out:
The league has told me that they would view that as a suspect transaction, akin to a renegotiation. The league has said from their perspective, the answer is no.
On addressing voids among the team’s top six forwards:
Right now, obviously our first priority is to sign Corey Perry. Then we have to find out what Teemu is going to do. Then we’ll see. Bobby Ryan we view as a top six forward. We think he’s on our team and he’s in our top six. We view it as we have one potential hole there if we get Teemu back. That means second line center is a void right now if Teemu comes back.
On addressing that second line center void via free agency:
I doubt we’ll do much on July 1. I said that last year and we ended up signing a couple of guys. Right now, having profiled the guys there and what they might get, there’s a good chance we won’t do anything on July 1. We might have to get this player the old fashioned way and trade for him. A hockey team works on several levels. I’m really happy with what just happened at the draft. Having seven picks in the top 85 picks, I think we restocked with a really solid group of kids for the system. There is trade bait in the system too, in terms of what we have to do. To me, if we can’t get this guy on July 1 and we have to get it the old fashioned way, then that’s what we’re going to do. The old fashioned way is trading for him.
Cash is in an asset too. On July 1, you tend to see overpayment. You see guys in the two hole get one hole money. You see guys in the four hole get two hole money. There tends to be a good inflationary factor on the 1st. Now, you get those guys without assets. You don’t give up a pick or a player for him, but cash is an asset and it’s always been an asset. In a cap system, cash is an asset and cap room and tagging room are an asset. If John Smith, the player, you can get him on July 1 at $4 million a year or you can trade for his twin brother a week later and give up a third round pick and get another guy that is comparable who is making $750,000, both those transactions have appeal. One is asset free. You don’t give up an asset to get the first guy, but the twin brother comes at a better price and saves you cap room and cash. There are a lot of ways to put players on your team and the old fashioned way may be what we have to do here. If we don’t like the price tags on July 1, we’ll wait. We don’t play a game that counts in the standings until October 11. We don’t have to address this July 1.
On the likeliness that a move will be made to free up more salary:
We’re still looking to move some money. I’m not going to identify the players. I think if you look at our team, it’s not hard to figure out what else might move, but we’re still looking. I have not enjoyed the last couple of years where we’ve been right up against the cap the whole year and not had any flexibility at the trade deadline. We’d like to have a little more flexibility, so we are still in the market to possibly move somebody.
On the possibility of bringing in second-tier free agents for a lower price:
Absolutely. I’ve used this analogy before and I think it’s a good one. The first few guys that go, you’re shopping at Neimann Marcus. Sometimes you still get a good value at K-Mart. You don’t have to be in that first wave.
You’re going to see a rash of signings between now and 1st as well. I’ll bet you 40 or 50 guys sign between now and the 1st. There’s some motivated parties trying to sign guys.