The buyout brigade
The list of NHLers who have been or are expected to be bought out (or released) is rising by the day: Darcy Tucker, Kyle Wellwood and Andrew Raycroft from Toronto; Ray Emery from Ottawa; Jeff Hamilton and David Tanabe from Carolina; Marc Denis from Tampa Bay; Ben Clymer from Washington; and poor ol' Dan Cloutier out in Los Angeles.
And more are likely on their way.
Being put into hockey's unwanted bin isn't always a career killer, but in some of these cases, it's likely to be. Tucker and Wellwood will catch on with other NHL teams, and I imagine so will Emery given his recent trip to the finals and his relative youth.
Greg Wyshynski seems to think Raycroft will find a home, but given the dearth of available netminding jobs, that strikes me as incredibly unlikely. He hasn't been a decent starter since his Calder Trophy season, a span of four years in which he's posted NHL save percentages of .879, .894 and .876.
It's frankly amazing he lasted as long as he did. (And the chances of him going to Ottawa are nil.)
No, for he, and the likes of Denis and Cloutier, it's probably a pretty long road back into the NHL. Goaltending's always been a funny position in that even some of the brightest lights can go out quickly and without warning, and sometimes when puckstoppers lose it, it's gone.
Cloutier's contesting the buyout on medical grounds, but either way it's incredibly unlikely he sees NHL action.
At 28, Raycroft's older than you'd think given the number of years on his career, while Denis will turn 31 come August. It's a big drop to the buses of the AHL, but where else can these two catch on? There are very few openings given the deemphasis on backups under the salary cap, and the fact the Red Wings won the Cup with an $800,000 netminder isn't going to do wonders for the market.
Colorado and Washington are ironing out their starting situations, and teams like Buffalo, Vancouver, San Jose and Dallas need cheap backups.
Those are the openings, and I suggest the availables jump at them given there are quality options in free agency (Ty Conklin, Olaf Kolzig, Alex Auld, etc.) and supply far outstrips demand.
Beggars can't be choosers.