If the Capitals have any interest in using their final compliance buyout on veteran center Brooks Laich, it’s news to his agent.
“I’ll be honest with you, I have not heard one whisper,” Roly Thompson said Wednesday en route to his office in Guelph, Ontario. “This is not because I represent Brooks, it’s just a general statement:
“He is the glue of the team. He’s the guy in the dressing room that’s the leader and when he’s not there or injured, things tend to not be as cohesive. So, if there is one guy you would not want to let go it would be Brooks.”
According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement between NHL owners and its players, if the Stanley Cup Final ends tonight with a Los Angeles Kings sweep, the clock will begin ticking on when NHL teams can use their compliance buyouts from last year’s labor settlement.
That buyout period begins 48 hours after the conclusion of the Cup Final, which could mean late Friday night, and ends on June 30.
Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan was attending GM meetings on Wednesday and was unable to comment.
Laich, who turns 31 on June 23, has three years and $12.5 million remaining on a six-year, $27 million contract he signed with the Capitals in 2011.
A series of groin injuries that began during the NHL lockout has limited Laich to just 60 of 130 games the past two seasons.
“Yes, he’s had some injury difficulties with the groin and they can kind of drive you crazy because they are recurring,” Thompson said. “But he has had the operation that has permanently fixed it and he’s as excited as all get out to go back to Washington. The last time he talked to me, he said, ‘Roly, we’re not as far off as many people think.’
“Does that sound like a candidate for a buyout? I’d be very surprised, but things happen in hockey.”
Laich ended this season on the injured list and failed a physical at the conclusion of the regular season. Thompson said Laich has not been asked to take another physical since then, noting he would need to pass a physical in order for the Caps to buy him out.
“That eliminates him from being bought out,” Thompson said.
If the Capitals asked Laich to re-take his physical and decided to buy him out, they would need to pay him two-thirds of his current salary over twice its length, setting his buyout cost at $8.33 million spaced over six years, or $1.388 per year [www.capgeek.com].
Caps defenseman Mike Green, who has one year and $6.083 million remaining on his three-year, $18.25 million contract, also is considered a buyout candidate for the Capitals. But because they are expected to be more than $13 million under the anticipated salary cap of $70 million, assistant general manager Don Fishman said the Caps are not under any pressure to buy out any players.
Laich said he completed his rehabilitation from abdominal surgery late last month and planned on beginning his normal summer workout routine last week. Thompson said Laich will be “absolutely 100 percent by training camp,” adding, “If there were games he could probably play right now.”