Most of the talk in the next month or so will be about teams adding players. Whether it is through the draft or free agent splurges, the majority of players leaving teams will be doing so by choice (some might say because of greed). There is, however, one big exception: buyouts.
The contract buy-out window starts tomorrow and – while I haven’t heard many rumblings from across the league – TSN reports that three Canadian teams might be looking to lose what they view as some dead roster weight.
First, there are the rumors swirling around the Edmonton Oilers.
According to Jim Matheson of The Edmonton Journal, the Oilers could be considering buying out a trio of forwards – captain Ethan Moreau and forwards Patrick O’Sullivan and Robert Nilsson.
O’Sullivan will make $2.95 million next season, while both Moreau and Nilsson are slated to make $2 million each.
Next, we follow the downward spiral of a former Maurice Richard winner who now plays for the Ottawa Senators.
Meanwhile, The Ottawa Citizen reported that the Senators are expected to buy out the final year of forward Jonathan Cheechoo’s $3.5 million contract.
“I think Jonathan knows that when you’re making $3.5 million, you have to be seen to be justifying that salary,” Cheechoo’s agent Thane Campbell told the newspaper last week.
Ouch, when your agent provides quotes like that, you know things aren’t looking very good.
Finally, TSN discusses the possibility of the Habs officially cutting ties with a big bruiser after more or less doing it earlier during the season.
The Montreal Canadiens will also head down that path with now-departed forward Georges Laraque. The team parted ways with him in January and will buy out the final year of his three-year, $4.5 million contract.
Players above the age of 26 can be bought out for two-thirds of their remaining contracts while younger ones can go for one-third. Either way, the cap hit is moved to double the amount remaining, so if a player has two-years left it will be broken up into four annual segments.
The advantage of a buyout is that it provides a team with some salary cap (and straight-up salary) relief while getting rid of a player who either was unproductive, a locker room issue or some combination of the two. The minus is that the team pays the player to not play for them while they waste salary cap space (the latter reason explains why Chicago would be foolish to buy out Cristobal Huet or Brian Campbell). One other possibility is that the bought-out player could come back to haunt them if they sign with a different team.
Will these buyouts actually happen? Could other teams take advantage of that two-week window? We’ll find out, beginning tomorrow.