This week's Capped looks around the league at some other possible buyouts coming this off-season.
The Capped article from two weeks ago outlining the Dallas Stars’ options with their goaltending moving forward was well-received, so the next step is to look around the rest of the league at other possible buyout options.
The best place to start is with the players that the fans think will be bought out (or at least who they’re hoping and praying for). CapFriendly has a fun little window up that shows who the most common players are that site users are using the buyout tool on. Some of them are a little ridiculous (like Connor McDavid appearing on it in early April), but others actually have some weight behind the idea. Here are a few of the names present on the list, and how we might expect their teams to deal with them in the offseason.
Marc-André Fleury – Pittsburgh Penguins
Current Cap Hit: $5,750,000 (Expires in 2019)
Buyout Cap Hit: $1,916,667 (Expires in 2021)
It seems strange that a Cup-winning goalie with solid regular season numbers who produced a good run in the first two rounds of this year’s playoffs would be a buyout candidate, especially with one year left on his contract. That salary is a fairly standard rate for a good starting goalie, and teams are always willing to listen on upgrading their goaltending.
The problem is Fleury’s no movement clause (NMC), the presence of Matt Murray, and the Vegas expansion draft. At this point it is well known that the Penguins are stuck, and one way or another one of their goalies will be moving elsewhere. The worst-case scenario for Pittsburgh would be having to buy out Fleury. However, it shouldn’t have to come to this, as they should be able to either find a trade partner for Fleury, or convince him to waive his NMC to be selected by Vegas. It is possible that Fleury gets bought out, but it seems unlikely, as it is not the best situation for anyone involved. Losing a talented piece for nothing is not ideal for any team, let alone in the Metropolitan division.
Andrew MacDonald – Philadelphia Flyers
Current Cap Hit: $5,000,000 (Expires in 2020)
Buyout Cap Hit: $1,833,333 (Expires in 2023!)
If Andrew MacDonald were not already under contract, it would be a surprise to see him get a decent contract this summer in free agency, let alone one above $2-million. He is currently being paid $5-million a year by the Philadelphia Flyers to be carried by his rookie defence partner Ivan Provorov. Philadelphia’s cupboard of prospect defencemen is just brimming with talent, so clearing MacDonald out of the way would be doable for them.
The combination of paying under $2-million for MacDonald not to play, and paying a rookie like Travis Sanheim or Samuel Morin their entry-level $925, 000, would both be more cost effective, and put a better product on the ice. Philadelphia is a team on the playoff bubble right now, and they need to make a few moves if they are to keep up in the ultra-competitive Metro. With a buyout of MacDonald, and Steve Mason seemingly also on the way out, the cap space is available to make a play for some scoring help up front to complement the incumbents; T. J. Oshie perhaps?
Current Cap Hit: Too high (AKA $5.5 Million & $5.7 Million, expiring in 2020 & 2021)
Buyout Cost: $1,111,111 (Expires in 2023) & $1,433,333 (expires in 2025) Respectively*
The New York Rangers may be in a decent position around the salary cap for the 2017-2018 season, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have anchors on their books. The defence pair of Dan Girardi and Marc Staal is a slow-footed duo, and neither fits the bill of a puck-moving defenceman. With puck movement and speed being the new direction of the NHL, Girardi and Staal are getting left behind.
A buyout of one of the two defence mentioned above would be tough to swallow, but it makes sense for two main reasons. First, it gives N.Y. more cap space for their current RFA forwards: Mika Zibanejad, Jesper Fast, and Oscar Lindberg. Two, it frees up more ice time for Brady Skjei and his offence. Skjei manged 39 points working with minimal ice time last season, and deserves to be pushed out more often. If the Rangers want to keep up with the rest of the Metropolitain (I feel like this is coming up a lot) then they should want to be creating ice time for Skjei.
Ideally one of Girardi or Staal would be pushed towards Vegas with a big cherry on top, or maybe out to Buffalo who needs a couple pylons on defence behind Rasmus Ristolainen. However, both Staal and Girardi would be a tough sell, even with a decent incentive, so a buyout is probably the last resort. It also may make financial sense in the long run, because with Rick Nash’s contract coming off the books next season, there will be an extra $7.8-million freed up. Nash may end up re-signing in New York, however it would be at a much-reduced cost.
The bottom line is that the Rangers just may have their hands tied in this case, and a buyout may be a lesser evil than leaving the roster as is.
*Cost was used here, as a result of their front-loaded contracts, the actual cap hit fluctuates with each season.
Current Cap Hit: $5,275,000 (Expires in 2021)
Buyout Cap Hit: $4,608,333 until 2021, then $333,333 until 2025
Buying out Marian Hossa would be a drastic measure for the Chicago Blackhawks, and it really isn’t necessary. Well, it’s not necessary if Chicago wants to continue with their status quo of paying their seven core players and insulating around that with miniscule contracts. If their dismantling at the hands of the Predators pushes them in another direction, then buying out Hossa would seem like a distinct possibility. Hossa is certainly the most expendable of Chicago’s core players, but with a bit of a deeper dive, we see that a buyout makes little sense here at all.
The major issue is that a buyout is a huge commitment. For the next four years, Chicago wouldn’t even be saving enough money to roster a replacement player, and at a league minimum price, would the replacement player be any better than Hossa anyways? It is very unlikely. As a result, Hossa will likely either be traded (with difficulty) or will continue to be a part of the core seven that uses up most of Chicago’s cap space. It should be status quo for Hossa moving forward.
Current Cap Hit: $4,000,000 (Expires in 2018)
Buyout Cap Hit: $1,333,333 (Expires in 2019)
This final name on the list appears for a similar reason as why Fleury appeared earlier. However, Kevin Bieksa wasn’t actually a name that appeared on the CapFriendly Popular Buyouts area. He makes this list though because he is one of the most likely names to actually be bought out. Bieksa owns a NMC that forces him to be protected in the Vegas expansion draft. Anaheim has a plethora of other defencemen whom they would rather protect, and as a result the Ducks find themselves in need of taking action in one direction or another.
Anaheim does have a few options here, but a trade would be tough to pull off without a large incentive going with Bieksa, even if he waives his NMC to simplify the process (and the general feel around the media is that he doesn’t want to). With the Ducks’ hands tied, a buyout seems ever more likely. With one year left on Bieksa’s contract, immediate benefit with the expansion slot freed up, and many long-term options to fill in, Anaheim has a lot to gain by going down this route. Those who still own Bieksa in keeper leagues may want to cut bait now (but even just based on his production you knew that already anyway). Anaheim’s defence core will have some turnover this offseason, and Bieksa is the most crucial piece that Anaheim has to move.
For those who have not heard about the status of this website’s legendary namesake, Darryl Dobbs, I recommend you read his statement here.
Our thoughts are with you Darryl.
You can find me on twitter @alexdmaclean where I will be voicing my thoughts on cap related moves such as these, as well as providing other (mostly) hockey related tidbits and musings.
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