NHL Rumor Mill – May 14, 2019
Five possible contract buyout candidates, plus the latest speculation on Phil Kessel, Nazem Kadri, and William Nylander in today’s NHL rumor mill.
POTENTIAL BUYOUT CANDIDATES
TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Karl Alzner, Edmonton Oilers winger Milan Lucic, Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera, New York Rangers blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk, and Vancouver Canucks winger Loui Eriksson could become contract buyout candidates next month. The buyout period begins June 15 and runs through June 30.
Alzner has three years remaining on his five-year, $23.125-million contract. He spent most of last season in the AHL. Lucic has four seasons left on his seven-year, $42-million contract while Sekera has two years left on his six-year, $33-million deal. Shattenkirk is two years into a four-year, $26.6-million contract, and Eriksson has three years remaining on his six-year, $36-million deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contract buyouts for those players count as two-thirds the remaining value over twice the remaining term. Of the five, Sekera could be the easiest to buy out. It comes with a $2.5 million cap hit in the first two years, dropping to $1.5 million for the remaining two seasons. Sekera, however, looked good in his recent return from injury. The Oilers could hang onto him for next season.
The others would be more complicated. Alzner’s buyout would count as over $1.069 million against the Canadiens cap, except for 2020-21, when it jumps to $4.19 million. Shattenkirk’s would be $1.43 million, except for 2020-21 when it would be over $6 million. That’s because a significant chunk of their respective salaries for that particular season is paid as a signing bonus. It’s a form of salary insurance for those two in case there’s a lockout in 2020-21.
Signing bonuses also affect the buyout structure for Eriksson and Lucic. An Eriksson buyout counts as over $5.55 million against the Canucks cap for the first two seasons, dropping to $3.55 million in year three, before falling to over $555K for each of the final three seasons. Buying out Lucic counts as over $3.625 million in 2019-20, $5.625 million in 2020-21, $4.125 million in 2021-22, $5.625 million in 2022-23, then tumbling to 625K for each of the final four seasons.
If the league or the NHLPA choose to opt out of the current CBA in September, there could be another lockout in the fall of 2020. Teams considering the buyout option this summer could opt to wait a year and see what happens with the CBA.
A new CBA could see each team allowed two compliance buyouts as they were when the current agreement was implemented. Those buyouts didn’t count against a team’s salary-cap payroll.
LATEST KESSEL SPECULATION
TRIBLIVE.COM: If the Pittsburgh Penguins trade Phil Kessel, Jonathan Bombulie believes it must be more than addition by subtraction. Despite his age and “quirky personality”, the 32-year-old winger remains a productive scorer. Replacing his scoring would be difficult. If Kessel’s traded, Bombulie believes the player they get back makes the Penguins better away from the puck and improves the chemistry on the second line.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel has an eight-team trade list, which could complicate things unless he’s willing to widen that list. The Penguins reportedly entertained offers for the winger last summer and could do so again this year.
Moving Kessel and his $6.8-million cap hit could be done to free up salary to bring in a more affordable, younger player. That player could come in the return for Kessel, or through a separate trade with another team, or via free agency.
NYLANDER OR KADRI?
TORONTO STAR: In a recent mailbag, Kevin McGran was asked if the Toronto Maple Leafs will consider moving center Nazem Kadri and winger William Nylander. Kadri’s undisciplined play cost the Leafs in the last two seasons while Nylander carries a big cap hit that could affect efforts to re-sign Mitch Marner.
McGran believes Kadri is more vulnerable to a trade. He points out Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas “went through a lot to sign Nylander. He’s not trading him.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I agree. Kadri is the more likely of the two to get traded. One can’t fully dismiss the possibility of a Nylander trade despite Dubas’ “promise” not to move him. Still, it would’ve been all for nothing to trade Nylander at this point. Kadri’s loose cannon act has proven too costly over the past two years.