The trade deadline is the NHL's real silly season. The weeks ahead of us are a pretty close second, though.
Oh, the transactions you'll see. Offers tendered. Contracts extended. Players drafted. Players traded. UFA's lured.
Players bought out?
As we begin our preparation for the off-season festivities it's an avenue we at least must consider. The new CBA allows teams two compliance buyouts total, last summer and this one, to assist franchises in getting their cap numbers down to the new reality negotiated.
From NHL.com last year, teams "must pay two-thirds of the remaining contract across twice the remaining term of the deal. The bought-out players become free agents July 5 (2013, and July 1, 2014) and can sign with any team, other than the one that bought out the player."
It gives cap relief, but two-thirds is significant- And an owner gets nothing from that player ever again. It is quite literally flushing money down the metaphorical sports toilet.
Among shrewd front offices like San Jose, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Boston, Anaheim... No buyouts so far. In fact 16 of the 30 teams have abstained to this point and most will probably continue. The wild-arsed free-wheeling bastions of hockey insanity in Philadelphia and Toronto have already used both of theirs.
It's a fun thing to talk about, but like most fan-generated conversations we come up with to occupy our addled minds, it's not really much of a headline at all, more often that not.
Who from the Stars would be a candidate for such an action? Buyout conversations generally start and end with players who are under-performing in hefty contracts.
Such a description likely has you shouting one or two names in particular, and in chorus, from the rooftops. Consider the other possibilities, though.
Like Aaron Rome.
Trevor Daley, Alex Goligoski, Jordie Benn, Patrik Nemeth, Kevin Connauton, Aaron Rome. Jamie Oleksiak, if you like. There's eight right there. It's fairly crowded as it is, and it seems likely that Jim Nill will have his eyes open for improvement of what was a pretty challenged group overall last season.
That could include involve trading one or more of those, with prospects, etc. Even still, it's a crowded group that has young players pushing from below- Or so they hope. Aaron Rome had some bad luck with injuries last year- Repeatedly. He earned his way into just 25 games. He recorded a single assist and was at times trusted with only single-digit minutes.
They could believe that a resurgence aided by health is in his future. They could like his size and his experience. They could also decide that it's a spot best utilized in the name of development for the future of the franchise. They could decide that at this stage in his career (turning 31 in the pre-season) it is what it is.
His trade value seems quite low, if we're speaking honestly, and Jim Nill did not write that contract.
So that could be an option.
The more buzz-worthy candidates in the eyes of many do not share these characteristics. Sure, their cap hits are bigger, their actual salaries are larger, their ages more advanced- But these are Jim Nill guys. Guys brought here with the understanding that they would be a big part of this team.
They had poor starts. And... poor middles. But one could argue that Shawn Horcoff and Sergei Gonchar had found their useful places in the lineup (or rather Lindy Ruff had) by season's end heading into the post-season. That's not to say that their performances reflected their salaries compared to other comparable earners in the league- but they did find their places. The roster found a way to function well enough to make the post-season and give Anaheim a run for their money.
Paying two-third of those contracts just to watch them go would be painful. We don't know much of Jim Nill yet, but it doesn't sound like the kind of thing he would ask of his new owner. It doesn't sound like the kind of business in which any of them particularly want to engage.
Those are Nill's acquisitions and the guess here is that he's going to make them work. A trade with some salary retained? Maybe, if they could find someone interested for whatever reason- But we're talking buyouts here and I would be surprised.
And, oh-yeah-by-the way... Sergei Gonchar's contract, signed after the lockout, is not eligible for a compliance buyout. He could be bought the old-fashioned way, but that's an even uglier scenario. See CapGeek on that here.
What about Erik Cole?
There's a guy who was not acquired by Jim Nill. His age is up there. His contract is eligible for a compliance buyout. It would cost them $1.3M in consecutive seasons and his cap-hit would disappear immediately, per terms of the agreement in the new CBA.
Again, it's like paying on a car that you don't drive any more. But it could be an option.
Will the Stars use a compliance buyout this summer? Without knowing their trade and UFA targets- without knowing what they think of certain prospects and what will transpire in training camp- It's impossible to say, but it would seem unlikely that a big splash is made in that regard.
What, if anything, would you like to see done on this front? I bet we know...