Now that the Stanley Cup has been awarded to the Chicago Blackhawks after a thrilling six-game series – please check out the incredible coverage of www.CSNChicago.com and www.CSNNE.com -- NHL teams can begin making their compliance buyout plans.
The window for compliance buyouts begins Wednesday night at 11 p.m. – 48 hours after the completion of the Stanley Cup Final – and ends on July 4, the day before unrestricted free agency.
Some teams have already told their players they will be bought out of their contracts. The Flyers have agreed to eat two-thirds of what remains on contracts for Ilya Bryzgalov and Danny Briere, equaling $23 million for Bryzgalov and $3.3 million for Briere.
In case you’re wondering, the Bryzgalov buyout is the largest in NHL history and there’s a good chance it does not sit well with Capitals general manager George McPhee.
“People view it different ways,” he said. “I wish we didn’t have [compliance buyouts]. I think in a lot of cases teams have done some real bad deals. They cheated a little bit and they shouldn’t be able to get out of them.
“But because we haven’t done a lot of bad deals here; we haven’t cheated on contracts; we haven’t had the backdiving deals; we just never did that. We didn’t think it was the right way to do business, but other teams did and they can get out of it. That’s life.”
McPhee met with Capitals owner Ted Leonsis on Monday to discuss, among other things, the possibility of using the team’s two compliance buyouts, which work like this:
Players 26 and older receive two-thirds of their salary in a compliance buyout. Players under 26 receive one-third of their salary. No part of their contracts is counted against the new $64.3 million salary cap.
Only contracts agreed upon prior to the new CBA can be amnestied and no player can return to the team that buys him out for at least one year.
“Ownership can view it different ways,” McPhee said. “Some owners don’t like it and some owners say, ‘Boy, this is exactly what’s needed. Let’s move this guy out and use that money to get somebody else.’”
The Capitals have just a few compliance buyout candidates.
Defenseman Jeff Schultz, who has one year and $2.75 million remaining on his contract, is the strongest. He has asked for a trade and if the Caps are unable to move him before July 4 they likely will buy him out.
Right wing Joel Ward has two years and $6 million remaining on his contract, but was one of the Caps’ most effective players in the playoffs, which makes buying him out a risky move.
Two other big price tags on the Caps roster may be worth considering.
Center/left wing Brooks Laich has four years and $18 million remaining on his contract with the Caps, while Martin Erat has two years and $9 million remaining on his deal, which was inherited from the Nashville Predators in deadline day trade that send prospect Filip Forsberg to the Predators.
McPhee is expected to take a deliberate approach to the compliance buyout period, possibly waiting until after Sunday’s draft before deciding which contracts, if any, are swallowed by the Caps.