NHL, NHLPA have ‘conceptual agreement’ on Despres buyout

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Yesterday, Anaheim announced it was waiving d-man Simon Despres for buyout purposes — which raised a few eyebrows, given Despres was sidelined for nearly all of last year with concussion problems.

There are rules that prohibit buying out contracts of injured players. But now it appears as though both the NHL and NHLPA have reached an agreement on the Despres situation.

From the O.C. Register:

“There have been a number of unique aspects related to Mr. Despres’ situation and we and the Players’ Association have worked together to help define the appropriate collectively bargained rules that can be applied to his contract,” Daly wrote in an e-mail. “We now have a conceptual agreement on treatment and we are in the process of documenting that resolution.”

The union has apparently signed off on it, with NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon saying, “The NHLPA is engaged in settlement discussions with the NHL regarding Simon Despres contract and the parties hope to have this matter resolved soon.”

Despres, 25, has missed 131 games over the last two years combined while dealing with concussion problems, and suited up for just one contest in ’16-17.

Acquired in a trade with Pittsburgh two years ago, Despres had a good initial showing in Anaheim. He scored seven points in 16 playoff games during the ’15 postseason, averaging nearly 21 minutes per night. Ducks GM Bob Murray rewarded that showing with a five-year, $18 million extension — one that kicked in this past season, and carries a $3.7 million cap hit through 2021.

In October, Murray suggested that Despres’ career might be in jeopardy due to the aforementioned concussion problems.

“The Despres situation is one that is a very sensitive issue and it’s one that my whole goal hopefully is make it that Simon at the end of all this lives a happy, healthy, normal life,” Murray said, per ESPN. “It’s going to take some time before we get to that point. Really, it’s all I want to say at this time on that because it is sensitive and I feel real bad for Simon.”

The timing of this buyout is crucial for the budget-conscious Ducks. It was their last chance to get Despres for one-third of his contract:

Per the Register, Despres was activated from long-term injured during the playoffs but never participated in a team practice.