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To Buy Out Or To Bury

Posted By Shane Hoopfer On Jun 17 2010 @ 2:26 pm In Calgary Flames | 1 Comment

Decision time is underway right now for NHL GM’s as the two week window is open to buy out players at 2/3 of their salary and have that cap hit spread over double the length of time. As an example if Player A has one year left on his deal at $3M he can be bought out for $2M saving the team a million dollars in real money. The cap hit would be $1M for the next two seasons.

So GM’s have to decide if they do want to part ways with a player is it worth the additional cash that their owner has to pay out, and do they want to kill some of their cap space for a player that is not with the team.

The other option is even uglier in some people’s minds (not mine but some) and that is to bury a player in the minors. How this works is again Player A gets sent to the minors on a one way contract. he is immediately placed on waivers and any other team can essentially pick that player up without giving up an asset.

However that team would then be on the hook for his salary and cap hit. Leaving our original team off the hook for Player A. This is actually rare because if you are sending a player down in this fashion they generally have a bad contract that no one else wants.

Now if Player A clears waivers after 48 hours he is assigned to the minor league team. The original team still have to pay his $3M to play in the minors, but he is completely off the teams cap space. He can also be recalled from the minors at any time. However he must go through re-entry waivers where another team could pick him up at half the salary! With your team paying the other half.

In my opinion the buy out is only an option for a player with a no movement clause in his contract, or for a team that is tight on money and wants to save a few dollars. If your team has the money and if willing to spend it I think burying the player in the minors is the way to go.

That brings us to the Calgary Flames and their situation with bad contracts. I am going to use four players as examples for this team. Daymond Langkow, Ales Kotalik, Cory Sarich, and Steve Staios. I have nothing against the players but they are all overpaid in terms of what they bring to the ice in a cap era.

Langkow, Kotalik, and Sarich all have two years left on their deals, which makes the buy out option not palatable. Only Ales Kotalik could be a possibility as he has 2 years left at $3M per season. So a buy out would cost you $4M in real money and one million dollars a year for four years on the cap. True it saves you $2M in cap space this season. But it is a long term penalty for a bad trade.

The only options for these three players are to either trade them at the draft for any pick you can get. Or you bury them in the minors and pay them a lot of money which isn’t practical. Or and in the Flames situation if they can’t trade them they will be stuck playing them this year, and reassess their situation next year. I think this will happen in the case of Kotalik. Sarich and Langkow should have some value to some team to only have to give up a draft pick for.

Which brings us to Steve Staios. I still don’t fully understand that trade but the fact of the matter is he has 1 year left on his contract at $2.7M. Honestly if he can not be traded at the draft, he needs to be buried in the minors for the season. The Flames can afford it, and there is no sense in wasting cap space in a buy out.

What will the Flames do if anything prior to and at the draft? I suspect that two of the four I have mentioned will be traded. As for the other two I would guess they will be in the lineup starting the season. I don’t believe that Flames management has the gumption to make a very hard decision as to burying a player in the minors.

What do you think?

Have a good one!

Follow me on twitter! www.twitter.com/shanehoopfer

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