NHL compliance buyouts: Who are the candidates for each team?

Could Cam Ward be a candidate for a buyout? (Getty Images)
Could Cam Ward be a candidate for a buyout? (Getty Images)

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Compliance buyout season has begun.

Starting on Monday and running through June 30, general managers across the league have two weeks to mull their options on their compliance buyouts. This is the leftovers of the last CBA in which the salary cap was brought down, making the compliance buyout a necessary tool for some teams to meet the decline.

Each GM was given two compliance buyouts to use either last summer or this so getting off the hook for bad contracts has to happen now, after this it will go back to all buyouts counting against a team's salary cap.

Already we have seen one buyout and another two in the beginning stages as Aaron Rome was released in Dallas and David Booth and Ville Leino have been waived in the intent of buying out their deals on Wednesday.

With some help from the terrific site Cap Geek, here's a look at what every team has to consider for their compliance buyouts. In some cases there are no more buyouts, making the decisions awfully simple for a few GMs as they just sit back and watch free agents join the July 1 class.

Compliance Buyouts
Anaheim Ducks Buyouts remaining: 2. The Ducks have both of their compliance buyouts left and they will probably finish that way. In a sign of good general managing, there are no obvious candidates begging for a buyout. Only four players are locked into deals with at least four more seasons, two of which are Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf while the others are Andrew Cogliano and Cam Fowler, so there won't be any there. Further, they aren't hurting for cap space and don't have a ton of players to re-sign. It should be quiet on this Western front.
Boston Bruins Buyouts remaining: 2. This is going to be an interesting call for Peter Chiarelli. The Bruins have two buyouts they can use but it's not clear if they will. They have plenty of players locked in for big bucks but they're players you figure they'll want to keep around. The most obvious target, though, has to be Chris Kelly. He's signed for another two seasons at $3 million per season, which is a lot for a bottom six player who had 18 points last season. They want to re-sign Jarome Iginla but money is very tight with overages from last season's cap to carry over. Freeing up Kelly and replacing him within the system would free up a few million to help keep Iggy.
Buffalo Sabres Buyouts remaining: 1. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the Sabres used their first buyout on Ville Leino on Tuesday (Nathan Gerbe was bought out last summer but that was a traditional buyout), or at least started the process because we're going to assume no GM goes near that contract with a 10-foot pole. The chances of the Sabres using their other buyout is slim to none. You could look at Tyler Myers' deal with five more seasons and $5.5 million per as a candidate but he's still young and perhaps more importantly you have to remember the Sabres have to meet the salary floor.
Calgary Flames Buyouts remaining: 2. You could look at the Flames and say perhaps they could consider a buyout on David Jones ($4 million each of the next two seasons) or maybe even Dennis Wideman ($5.25 million over the next three) but similar to the Sabres, one thing to remember is they have a lot of work just to reach the floor and we all know that young, rebuilding teams need to have a few veterans on the roster.
Carolina Hurricanes Buyouts remaining: 2. Ron Francis has some decisions to make here. It has been no secret that the Hurricanes would like to part ways with goalie Cam Ward as they have been exploring trade routes. But really, who is going to take a goalie coming off a terrible season who has a cap hit of $6.3 million for each of the next two seasons? It wouldn't be surprising at all to see the Canes try to trade him but ultimately buy him out after unsuccessful attempt to find a deal. He is a favorite in Carolina but they have Anton Khudobin and Justin Peters around and they have a few players already with high prices with a lot of players to sign. John-Michael Liles is also a candidate but much less likely as he was a help on D after a mid-season acquisition from Toronto.
Chicago Blackhawks Buyouts remaining: 0. After using their buyouts last summer on Rostislav Olesz and Steve Montador, the Hawks have no more get-out-of-jail-free cards. Not that they would really need one anyway.
Colorado Avalanche Buyouts remaining: 2. Whoever is in charge of these decisions in Colorado (Patrick Roy, Greg Sherman, Joe Sakic or all three?) probably won't decide to do much. The Avs don't have guys screaming to be bought out, the only options would really be Alex Tanguay and/or P.A. Parenteau but both were productive in the time they did play last season. There have been plenty of rumblings the Avs would like to deal Parenteau and if that's true, it shouldn't be too hard to find a match that way. Plus, the Avalanche aren't known for being care-free with their money.
Columbus Blue Jackets Buyouts remaining: 2. The process is already reportedly under way to trade R.J. Umberger and his $4.6 million cap hit for another three seasons, so you can take him off the buyout list (unless there is no deal to found, perhaps). Jared Boll jumps off the roster page with a $1.7 million cap hit for the next three seasons but as a recent signee, he's not eligible to be bought out. The only other candidate that you might even consider as a candidate would be defenseman Fedor Tyutin with $4.5 million per season for another four years but we'd put that on the very unlikely side; he just hit his 30s so he should have a couple more good seasons left.
Dallas Stars Buyouts remaining: 1. The Stars became the first team this offseason to use a compliance buyout, saying good bye to defenseman Aaron Rome. They have one more remaining but it wouldn't seem likely that they'll use it, especially with how quick the decision was made on Rome. They should have more than enough room to make the moves they need/want this summer as is.
Detroit Red Wings Buyouts remaining: 1. After buying out Carlo Colaiacovo last summer, the Red Wings only have one at their disposal now and they aren't likely to use it. Unfortunately for them, Stephen Weiss is free from a buyout after his abysmal first season in Detroit. Johan Franzen is an interesting option for the Wings as he is due nearly $4 million per season for the next six seasons, which takes him to the age of 40. He's still productive for now but it's fair to wonder if that contract still looks good in two seasons from now. Either way, it would be an utter shock if the Red Wings actually did that as Franzen is still a key part of the team. They might think about it, but not for more than two seconds.
Edmonton Oilers Buyouts remaining: 1. Edmonton is down to one buyout after using one on Eric Belanger last summer. Most all of the players the Oilers have signed are young and part of their future so they aren't going to push them by the wayside. There could be a debate on Sam Gagner or Boyd Gordon but it's rendered moot when you realize they are not eligible for compliance buyouts. About the only player that is even eligible is David Perron but at less than $4 million for two more seasons, that's not a deal they would look to get rid of at all after 28 goals last season; it might actually be a bargain. In summary: not using it.
Florida Panthers Buyouts remaining: 2. Dale Tallon bought out Filip Kuba last offseason but went the traditional route, which made sense for a team that lives on the floor. Looking at the roster now, the Panthers only have one player who is signed for more than the next two seasons and that's Roberto Luongo. Considering they traded to get him and he's the goalie for the foreseeable future, he won't be bought out, even if the contract is a bit dangerous with recapture clause potential. The rest of the lineup only has three players signed for even two seasons and only one, Brian Campbell could even be an option but he won't be. The most intriguing debate would have to be around Ed Jovanovski with one season left at $4.125 million but the Panthers value him as a captain and again, just getting to the floor is a concern. So no, they won't use.
Los Angeles Kings Buyouts remaining: 2. You're always going to be hesitant to break up a Stanley Cup champion, just as Dean Lombardi should be. Obviously this is a well-built team and that wouldn't lead to many candidates, if any at all. But there is one in Mike Richards. He is due to be paid $5.75 million for each of the next seasons, which is a lot of money for the player that Richards has become. He has been dropped into a bottom-six role for the Kings, playing on the fourth line this postseason. That's a lot of money for a fourth-line guy who had just 41 points this past season but the Kings have insisted they won't buy out Richards and there's no reason not to believe them. For better or worse, his contract will be staying.
Minnesota Wild Buyouts remaining: 1. Tom Gilbert was eschewed last summer for the first of their buyouts but that's all the Wild are likely to use. The quartet of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville and Ryan Suter are all signed long term but they are all also key components, they won't be bought out. Literally the only player they could use a buyout on is Kyle Brodziak but with just one season and less than $3 million on the cap, that's not really necessary.
Montreal Canadiens Buyouts remaining: 0. The Canadiens couldn't wait last summer to use their buyouts, bidding adieu to Scott Gomez and Tomas Kaberle faster than Ginette Reno could sing 'O, Canada.'
Nashville Predators Buyouts remaining: 1. Last summer the Predators bought out defenseman Hal Gill for their first buyout but on Tuesday GM David Poile said he has no plans to use the second buyout. He could have considered Paul Gaustad and his $3.25 million hit for another two years for a guy who is pretty much just a face-off ace but again, Poile has already said the buyout won't be used. It's not like the Predators are hurting for cap space.
New Jersey Devils Buyouts remaining: 1. Veteran goalie Johan Hedberg was compliance buyout No. 1 last summer and Lou Lamoriello will spend the next couple of days/weeks mulling over his second buyout and if he'll use it at all. The top target for the Devils is defenseman Anton Volchenkov, their highest-paid defenseman who is on the books for $4.25 million for the next two seasons. Lamoriello told Rich Chere that he's considering the options but won't use it just to use it.
New York Islanders Buyouts remaining: 1. It was perhaps a tougher decision for the Islanders to make than it should have been but they did do what was necessary and parted with Rick DiPietro last summer with one compliance buyout. They have a few very good deals up and down the pay roll, though, meaning the use of the second one is unlikely, even more unlikely when you consider they have tight purse strings.
New York Rangers Buyouts remaining: 1. This has been a decision oft-discussed for more than a year now in New York. Glen Sather used one buyout last summer on Wade Redden but left the second one in his back pocket to see another season of Brad Richards. The veteran carries a cap hit of $6.67 million for each of the next six seasons and given the cap crunch the Rangers have, that's a lot of free space they could use. Richards was OK for the Rangers but not productive enough to justify that cap hit. The safe bet is on Richards leaving.
Ottawa Senators Buyouts remaining: 2. The Senators still have the buyouts at their expense but if we're being honest, there's no way they use them. It's not that they couldn't use them but does anybody really think owner Eugene Melnyk will pay for a player NOT to play on his team? He already doesn't want to pay for the guys who are playing, it seems.
Philadelphia Flyers Buyouts remaining: 0. Ron Hextall doesn't have a lot to think about on this front as former GM, now President Paul Holmgren cleaned up a couple of his own messes last summer with buyouts on Daniel Briere and of course Ilya Bryzgalov. That was pretty effective use of the buyouts; of course Holmgren signed the players in the first place so let's not give too much credit.
Phoenix Coyotes Buyouts remaining: 2. The Coyotes are another team that isn't going to just spend money when they don't necessarily need to. Looking up and down the roster, the one name that does jump out is Martin Erat. In 70 games last season between Washington and Phoenix he had just three goals and 29 points, which is quite a lot for a player that has a $4.5 million cap hit at this point in his career. But remember the Coyotes traded for him at the deadline, one sign they see a fit and want him and plus he only has one season left on that contract. The Coyotes are likely to ride that one out.
Pittsburgh Penguins Buyouts remaining: 2. This could be an interesting setup for new GM Jim Rutherford to make an early mark but he's likely going to be more concerned about signing players, not exiling them. Rob Scuderi would normally be a candidate but he's not eligible as he was signed last summer by Pittsburgh. Having said that, it is kind of intriguing to think about the possibilities with Marc-Andre Fleury and James Neal. Now obviously both are key parts of the Penguins and before we go further we'll say that you shouldn't expect either to be bought out at all but the arguments can be made. Fleury's history is well documented and he's pricy at $5 million but there's just one season left and he was much better in this postseason. Neal is a goal scorer who clicks well with Evgeni Malkin but he also has $5 million per for the next four seasons and is a player who is frustrating at times, risky at others with some of his penalties and extracurriculars.
San Jose Sharks Buyouts remaining: 2. The Sharks have hinted they plan on making changes, but will any come via buyouts? None of the big names will be bought out; either they recently signed or are undoubtedly part of the future. However Martin Havlat is almost guaranteed to be bought out even if it hasn't happened yet. He is due $5 million for next season, the final year of his contract, but the Sharks already said he wouldn't be returning. Health has been a huge factor since he went to San Jose and his offense has been hit or miss. This past season he had 12 goals and 10 assists in 48 games. They aren't swimming in cap space but they also don't have a ton to spend ... right now.
St. Louis Blues Buyouts remaining: 2. Doug Armstrong has handled his roster pretty well in recent years, evidenced by the Blues being a consistent regular-season powerhouse. The only real candidates for a potential buyout would be on defense with veterans Barret Jackman and Roman Polak. Jackman has one season left at $3.167 million while Polak has two left at $2.75 million. Both of them are career-long Blues and both were still regulars on defense, averaging more than 17 minutes per game. Considering the Blues are a pretty good defensive team, there's not much need to disturb what's working well.
Tampa Bay Lightning Buyouts remaining: 1. The first of the two buyouts came last summer with Vincent Lecavalier. It was tough but necessary given the long-term deal he had and the price. The second buyout could be used this summer with Ryan Malone the likely recipient. He's dealing with legal troubles right now stemming from an arrest in which he was charged with DUI and cocaine possession. Those issues aside, Malone has also had injury problems and declining numbers. There is just one season left on his deal but it's for $4.5 million. It would be no surprise at all if Malone is given his walking papers.
Toronto Maple Leafs Buyouts remaining: 0. Gone are Mikhail Grabovski and Mike Komisarek, each of whom were bought out last summer. Leafs fans would probably love to see David Clarkson's contract disappear after a horribly disappointing first season but 1) we already cleared up they don't have any more compliance buyouts and 2) they couldn't use one on him anyway since the contract was signed after the CBA.
Vancouver Canucks Buyouts remaining: 0. The Canucks did have one buyout remaining but they began the process of using it when David Booth was placed on waivers Tuesday. Booth had one more season remaining but his exit frees up $4.25 million for the Canucks. Incidentally, both of the Canucks' compliance buyouts were used on players they acquired from the Panthers in trades (Keith Ballard the other). That should be a lesson to Jim Benning.
Washington Capitals Buyouts remaining: 1. For the first of their buyouts, the Capitals released Jeff Schultz, who went on to help the Kings win the Stanley Cup this season. We could speculate that Brooks Laich would be a prime option with three seasons left at $4.5 million per season but new GM Brian MacLellan already said that he has no plans of using the Capitals' second buyout. Instead they will hope that Laich can stay healthy and give them the production he showed glimpses of earlier in his career.
Winnipeg Jets Buyouts remaining: 2. We would start by saying that Ondrej Pavelec isn't only an option but should be bought out but GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has been insistent that Pavelec will remain his starting goaltender even though he has been brutal for the Jets since they moved to Winnipeg. He had three more seasons left at $3.9 million, which is a lot for a goalie who had a .901 save percentage last season and hasn't been above .906 since the Thrashers became the Jets. If they won't use a buyout on him and upgrade a big problem spot, they likely won't use one anybody else.
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