NHL GMs have an interesting tool at their disposal this summer to use as a means of shedding unwanted Salary.
NHL clubs have two Compliance Buyouts which they may use just as they would a normal buyout with the exception being that no amount of Cap Hit would be assessed to the NHL team. This was, naturally a big sticking point at the end of the Lockout as it had been determined that the Salary Cap would artificially be set at the low number of 64.3 Million dollars. The lower salary Cap would naturally make any pending UFAs or RFAs feel the squeeze when it came to getting that big pay day. It also highlights the existence of bad contracts on a good club.
Most of the players that will be bought out, IMO, will still be useful players but they will have contracts that pay them too much money. There will be a few legitimately good player. Roberto Luongo, for example, may be bought out because his contract is so prohibitive. There will also be a few poor players that may be bought out (I can think of a few Oilers). However, most of the guys who will be bought out will be the middle of the road players who can still help clubs, just not at the salaries they used to command. This category I would call the “Keith Ballard” category.
To answer the Caption for the Image above, No. I seriously doubt the Oilers buy out Horcoff. Horcoff is NOT Ethan Moreau. Moreau was done as a player. He was a 4th liner who could no longer handle the 4th line and was ditched. Shawn Horcoff is a fine 3rd line player and a respected Captain in Oilerville. He is also a MacT guy. When MacT was head coach Horcoff was in his prime and a very good player. He may not be as swift of foot and the onetimer may be distant dream, but he can still play, and his contract will run out as the kids really need to start getting paid.
The two Obvious choices as Compliance Buyouts for the Oilers are Ben Eager and Eric Belanger. Eager is in the AHL because of his ineffectiveness and Eric Belanger has been a train wreck as an Oiler. It also frees up spots for 4th liners to come in like Hartikainen or Lander.
The Oil arent in a Cap bind where they need to shed salary. They have a lot of their bad contracts already expiring naturally this year. Whitney (4M), Khabi (3.75M), and the Souray Buy Out (1.5M) are all off the books. That’s 9.25M right there and the Oilers havent made a single trade yet.
I’m not suggesting this needs to be done or should be done, but for the sake of throwing shit against the wall and seeing if it sticks, what about this Buy Out Scenario?
The Oilers and Canucks make a trade of Ballard for Horcoff. Horcoff is bought out by the Canucks with two years at 4 and 3 million remaining on his contract. Ballard is bought out by the Oilers with two years at 4.2 and 4.2 remaining on his contract. Now both of those players are free to re-sign with their original teams at significantly lower salaries.
The Canucks just bought out Horc so they cannot re-sign him, but the Oilers are free to do just that. Horcoff (Wink Wink) was very happy with his old contract that the Canucks are now paying him 2/3 of, so the Oilers offer the missing 1/3 to make him happy again. The Canucks are free to do the same with Ballard.
In this scenario I used Ballard because his remaining Salary is in the same range as Horcoff and Mike Gillis is a creative guy who might not be opposed to working around the fringes of the CBA to benefit himself. Also, the Canucks will pay slightly less Buyout money this way.
As I said though, Belanger and Eager are my obvious choices to be bought out.