Islanders Free Of Alexei Yashin

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PHILADELPHIA - MARCH 24:  Alexei Yashin #79 of the New York Islanders enters the ice during the NHL game against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center on March 24, 2007 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Islanders defeated the Flyers 4 to 3.  (Photo by: Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

Remember Alexei Yashin? That’s an absurd question, because of course you do. How could you forget?

Yashin was initially a beacon of hope when the New York Islanders acquired him from the Ottawa Senators before the 2001-02 season. The acquisition was not at a cheap price – an under-developed Zdeno Chara, the second-overall pick in the 2001 draft (Jason Spezza) and Bill Muckalt – but Yashin, one of the most dominant NHL players at the time, was expected to be worth the price.

Of course, then general manager Mike Milbury’s idea of said price probably differed from most. Upon his arrival, Yashin, who was coming off an 88-point season, signed a 10-year contract worth $87.5 million. At the time, this contract was the biggest in NHL history.

And of course, the rest is history.

Yashin never went on to meet those expectations. While the Islanders did make the playoffs in four of the five seasons he played on Long Island, Yashin compiled a respectable, but not $87.5 million respectable, 290 points over 346 games before the Islanders captain was bought out following a fourth first-round exit in 2007.

Chara went on to become one of the NHL’s best defenseman of his era, captaining the Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup in 2011. Spezza has gone on to collect 749 points over 768 career games with the Senators and Dallas Stars. And while both players are still playing at high levels in the NHL today, both of them, plus Yashin, were getting paid by NHL teams…until today.

As the 2014-15 season came to a close, so did Yashin’s cap-hit on the Islanders’ payroll. Fourteen years after signing his albatross contract, and eight years after getting bought out by the team, Yashin will no longer affect the Islanders under the salary cap. This past season, the Islanders paid Yashin the final $2.2 million of his buyout.

So today, Islanders fans celebrate what is truly a clean slate. The Islanders are undefeated, and they are officially free of Yashin’s contract.

-CT (@christriants)

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