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nhl off-season

Toronto Maple Leafs' Mike KomisarekDarren Calabrese/The Canadian Press

The Stanley Cup has been handed out, the champagne drunk and it's time for Step 1 of the NHL off-season.

No, not the parade. It's time for the compliance buyouts.

One key part of the new collective bargaining agreement was this tool to allow teams to toss a contract or two overboard and get under a shrinking salary cap. They were last allowed back in 2005 when that full-season lockout ended, and now they're here again in 2013, with teams given two get out of jail free cards to be used either this summer or next.

Unlike regular buyouts, compliance buyouts do not count against the salary cap, which is why there will probably be about a dozen of them when the buyout window opens late on Wednesday night.

Buyouts have to be completed by 5 p.m. on July 4, and the players bought out will then be available to other teams when free agency opens at noon the next day.

1. Ilya Bryzgalov, Philadelphia Flyers

Years left on contract: Seven

Buyout cost: $23-million

Breakdown: What a disaster. The Flyers signed Bryzgalov after two terrific seasons in Phoenix to a mammoth nine-year, $51-million deal that went bad quickly, as he flamed out in the 2012 playoffs and posted just a .900 save percentage this past season. In all, Bryzgalov's contract was so heavily front loaded that he will have made nearly $40-million for playing two seasons for the team, which has already confirmed he will be bought out.

2. Rick DiPietro, New York Islanders

Years left on contract: Eight

Buyout cost: $24-million

Breakdown: There has been no official announcement on this one, but DiPietro's contract remains an anchor, even for a team that's perennially trying to reach the salary floor. The Isles have wanted to trade his deal with an asset but haven't found any takers, leaving them on the hook for what would become the largest buyout in NHL history.

3. Mike Komisarek, Toronto Maple Leafs

Years left on contract: One

Buyout cost: $2.33-million

Breakdown: One of the biggest mistakes Brian Burke made in his tenure with the Leafs was giving a massive $4.5-million a season deal to Komisarek in free agency, as he struggled right from Day 1 and suffered through injuries and inconsistency in all four years in Toronto. Komisarek will likely catch on as a depth defenceman elsewhere but has had a difficult road since 2009. The Leafs haven't announced it, but this is one buyout that's coming.

4. Tomas Kaberle, Montreal Canadiens

Years left on contract: One

Buyout cost: $3-million

Breakdown: It's been a precipitous fall for the 35-year-old defenceman, who has bounced between three teams in two and a half seasons since leaving Toronto and has barely been able to get in the lineup of late. This one is a done deal, and it could be the end of the line after nearly 1,000 games.

5. Danny Brière, Philadelphia Flyers

Years left on contract: Two

Buyout cost: $3.33-million

Breakdown: Brière's eight-year deal back in 2007 was one of the first to come with a tail on the end of it, and it's those low salaried final two years that the Flyers are doing away with. Briere was set to be paid just $5-million over the final two seasons of the deal, but his $6.5-million cap hit was creating massive problems for the cap-strapped Flyers. He is only two years removed from a 34-goal, 68-point season and at 35 can still play a reduced role somewhere. It'll just be for a lot less cash.

6. Shawn Horcoff, Edmonton Oilers

Years left on contract: Two

Buyout cost: $4.67-million

Breakdown: The undeserved scapegoat for what has ailed the Oilers after signing a six-year deal for $5.5-million a season in 2009, Horcoff is on the trade block and has permission to talk to other teams. With the cap coming down, however, he may not find a taker, which would force Edmonton to go the buyout route. At 34, he still has some ability as a checking centre, but obviously at a much smaller cap hit.

7. Rostislav Olesz, Chicago Blackhawks

Years left on contract: One

Buyout cost: $2.83-million

Breakdown: No, he's not a household name. In fact, you probably wouldn't know he was under contract with an NHL team if he showed up at your household wearing his jersey. But Olesz is scheduled to make $4.25-million next season as part of a six-year deal the Florida Panthers gave him in 2008. It didn't work out very well, obviously, and he's spent most of his time recently in the minors and battling injuries.

8. Keith Ballard, Vancouver Canucks

Years left on contract: Two

Buyout cost: $5.6-million

Breakdown: The Canucks desperately need some room under the cap but have been very quiet about what their plans entail in getting that space. Moving Roberto Luongo is one area they can free up space, but buyouts are another, and Ballard, who has been relegated to being a sixth defenceman, is one candidate given his $4.2-million cap hit. Still a useful player, Ballard was never a favourite of former coach Alain Vigneault.

9. Ville Leino, Buffalo Sabres

Years left on contract: Four

Buyout cost: $10-million

Breakdown: Sabres GM Darcy Regier has given every indication that he won't be making any buyouts this off-season, but that has to be seen as a mistake with Leino, even if they've already paid a huge chunk of his $27-million contract in the first two years. The good news is that Buffalo will still have the option to pull the trigger on a buyout a year from now.

10. Mikael Samuelsson, Detroit Red Wings

Years left on contract: One

Buyout cost: $2-million

Breakdown: There's a complication with buying out Samuelsson in that he's been battling injuries all season. Injured players aren't eligible to be bought out, meaning he will be back with Detroit next season if he's not fully recovered by the July 4 deadline. That would then turn GM Ken Holland's buyout attention to someone else on the roster, with defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo the most likely candidate.

Honourable mentions: Vinny Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Roberto Luongo, Carlo Colaiacovo, Ryan Malone, Steve Montador