Jonathan Cheechoo’s NHL career could be over.
The Senators placed the underachieving winger on waivers Monday at noon, ready to buy out the remaining one year left on his contract, at $3.5 million. They’d have to pay him two-thirds of that — $2.331 million.
Acquired with winger Milan Michalek in the deal that sent Dany Heatley to the San Jose Sharks last September, Cheechoo, 29, had five goals and nine assists in 61 games with the Senators.
If, as expected, he clears waivers at noon Tuesday, the Senators will wipe part of his contract off the books and will take a cap hit of $1.165 million for two years.
Trying to entice someone to pick him up, the Senators put him on waivers at the lowest price available ($125). Any team claiming him would have been on the hook for the final year of the contract.
Once the buyout period is complete, Cheechoo, who led the NHL with 56 goals in 2005-06 playing in San Jose, will be an unrestricted free agent and can shop his services elsewhere. The buyout period ends Wednesday.
Cheechoo finished the year with the Senators’ AHL affiliate in Binghamton.
If he wants to continue playing in North America, he’ll likely have to accept a two-way deal (that includes a minor-league clause). Otherwise, Cheechoo may get interest from teams in the KHL and Europe.
“There might be someone who gives him a chance,” said a league executive.
Not having his salary on the books will give GM Bryan Murray a bit more wiggle room when the UFAs hit the market Thursday. The Senators don’t have a lot of cap room, but would like to add a forward and defenceman. The club is still negotiating with UFA forward Matt Cullen and defenceman Andy Sutton. Blueliner Anton Volchenkov will go to the market and winger Shean Donovan is studying the possibility of playing in Europe.
Monday was also the deadline for the club to extend qualifying offers to restricted free agents. Those were sent out last week to roster players Peter Regin, Nick Foligno, Jesse Winchester and Chris Campoli.
Kids coming in
The Senators will welcome 31 of their top prospects to Ottawa Tuesday for the development camp. Swedish blueliner David Rundblad, acquired from St. Louis for the 16th pick in Friday’s draft, won’t be here. He just got home from the Blues’ development camp and wants to stay overseas to train. “He felt it would just hurt him. He wants to dominate the Swedish Elite League, so we just respected his wishes,” Senators director of player personnel Pierre Dorion told Team 1200.
No Savard here
As reported Monday, the Senators likely won’t be chasing Boston C Marc Savard. Dorion said the club can’t fit his $4-million cap hit onto the roster. “How could we put him under the cap? That would be our biggest problem,” said Dorion. “With the cap, I’m not sure I see that being an option.”