The NHL has deemed that trading a player, having the acquiring team buy him out and then re-signing him is a form of CBA/salary cap circumvention, according to the New York Post.
As per The Post’s Larry Brooks, the league notified general managers on Monday it was closing the potential loophole, two days before the NHL’s compliance buyout window was set to open (Wednesday, 11 p.m. ET.)
What’s more, Brooks reports one such deal was already on the table:
It is believed the Lightning and Maple Leafs had discussed such a maneuver regarding Vincent Lecavalier, who has seven years and $45 million remaining on his contract, with the buyout thus worth slightly more than $30 million.
The clubs theoretically would have concocted a swap in which Tampa Bay would have sent an asset — perhaps a draft pick — to rolling-in-dough Toronto along with Lecavalier, who would have re-signed a more modest deal with the Lightning after being bought out by the Leafs.
Such a scheme would have saved Tampa Bay’s ownership a substantial sum while easing a cap squeeze for general manager Steve Yzerman, whose club currently faces a charge of $7.727 million per for Lecavalier through 2019-20 and the danger of significant cap-recapture penalties should No. 4 retire while still under contract.
The Leafs would have received an asset while the 33-year-old Lecavalier would at least have been made whole.
Lecavalier has been the subject of buyout talk for a while.
“We understand this is a difficult contract in a difficult cap environment,” Lecavalier’s agent, Kent Hughes, told the Tampa Bay Times of his client’s current deal. “We recognize (a buyout) is within the club’s right. One way or another there will be clarity in the next seven to nine days.”
Earlier this month, the Bolts captain admitted he’s contemplated being bought out.
“It’s obviously something you think about,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “At the same time, there’s nothing I can do about it.”
It should be noted teams are still allowed to trade players for the sole purpose of the acquiring team buying them out, so long as there’s no plan to re-sign the bought-out player.
The best example of this would be the New York Islanders and Rick DiPietro.
According to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman, Isles GM Garth Snow will reportedly “try to make it worthwhile” for teams to stomach DiPietro’s contract (the buyout would put him on the books until 2029) by possibly taking a bad contract in return, or sending picks and/or prospects.