Like it or not, the Edmonton Oilers are stuck with their captain Andrew Ference.
Ference was listed as a possible buyout candidate with the window opening today, but the health caveat in that post apparently matters; his agent confirmed that Ference can’t be bought out for health reasons, as the Edmonton Journal reports.
“He’s not cleared to play ice hockey and a cartilage repair takes a long time,” Kurt Overhardt said. “He’s nowhere near being cleared so it’s not even an issue. If you are hurt, you’re hurt. He has to be able to run, he has to be able to skate.”
There’s no denying that it hurts to eat that $3.25 million cap hit and salary in 2016-17. Even when Ference has been healthy, he hasn’t been very effective, even compared to other members of the Oilers’ leaky defense.
It’s not as dire as other “albatross contract” situations for one reason: the light at the end of the tunnel approaches. Ference’s contract runs out after next season, so one can look at this as the Oilers being forced to pull off the Band-Aid quickly.
If they bought the veteran defenseman out, there would be savings … but they would need to spread the damage over two seasons. Here’s what the math would look like according to Cap Friendly’s buyout calculator:
It’s easy to say “that’s not that big of a difference” when it isn’t your own money but … it could be worse, right?
Even if the Oilers believe that the difference is significant, they’re stuck with Ference’s cap hit for one more season either way.