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Clearing of waivers should kick-start Avery process

by Staff
According to the Dallas Stars, Sean Avery cleared waivers Monday at 12 p.m. ET, setting into motion the next chapter in a saga that has captivated the hockey community for the past three months.

Although Avery went unclaimed, the options for the Dallas Stars increase significantly.

None of the League's other 29 teams made a waiver claim, likely scared off not only by the player's combustible personality, but by the onus of taking on the remaining value of the four-year, $15.5 million contract he signed as a free agent this summer.

One thing that definitely will not happen is Avery rejoining the Stars.

The club's management has made it quite clear since his NHL suspension and Avery's enrollment in anger-management sessions that the troubled forward has no future with the organization despite being in the first year of his deal.

"We're not changing our stance at all," Stars co-GM Les Jackson told last week when asked about Avery's possible return to Dallas.

Avery, who has been skating on his own in preparation of making a return to hockey, will not be allowed to report to the Stars under any circumstances.

As a result, the most-likely option involves Dallas assigning Avery to a team in the American Hockey League in order to allow Avery play his way into hockey shape, as well as provide him a platform to audition for the 29 other NHL teams.

Dallas is one of the few NHL teams that does not have an AHL affiliate, so that task is not as easy as it would be for most teams. According to published reports, the Stars were still looking for an interested AHL team as of Monday afternon.

Until he is assigned to the AHL -- or any other professional team, for that matter -- Avery will be carried on the Stars' roster, just as he was in Sunday's win against Nashville. He was listed as a healthy scratch in that game, a designation that will continue as long as Avery remains with the Stars, says Jackson.

Now that Avery has cleared waivers, the Stars have the option of putting him through re-entry waivers at any time. At that time, Avery will be exposed to claim again by the League's 29 other clubs, in inverse order of the standings.

This time, though, the claiming club will only be responsible for half the cost of the contract and half the salary-cap hit; the Stars would pay the other half of the salary and take half of the salary-cap hit.

Under those constructs, Avery becomes a more palatable gamble for opposing GMs. In fact, several sources have reported the New York Rangers, the team from which Avery joined Dallas, could make a claim for Avery on re-entry waivers.

For Avery to be eligible for the playoffs, any re-entry deal would have to be consummated by the March 4 trade deadline.

Dallas has a few other options at its disposal in regards to Avery, but none are as appealing as shedding at least half of their financial commitment to a player that will never again see the ice in a Stars' uniform.

The Stars could trade Avery to another NHL team, but almost certainly would have to take an even more onerous contract back in exchange; the Dallas Morning News has reported that Jackson is not amenable to this option. 

The other option is for Dallas to carry Avery as a healthy scratch for the rest of this season and buy out his contract at two-third its value, $11.625 million, spread over the next six seasons. If that happens, Avery would become an unrestricted free agent, but the he would still count for $1,937,500 per year on the Stars' salary cap through the end of the 2014-15 season.
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