NHL Rumor Mill – March 25, 2020

by | Mar 25, 2020 | Rumors | 31 comments

More compliance buyout speculation and how the Canadiens cap space could serve them well in the off-season in today’s NHL rumor mill.


SPORTSNET: Luke Fox reports the anticipation of the 2020-21 NHL salary cap taking a COVID-19 hit has generated speculation the league and the NHL Players Association could agree to the implementation of compliance contract buyouts. He listed 11 hypothetical amnesty buyout candidates, with Vancouver’s Loui Eriksson ($6 million annual average value through 2021-22) topping the list. With Jacob Markstrom, Chris Tanev, Tyler Toffoli and others to re-sign, a compliance buyout window would help the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks were rumored looking into trading Eriksson last summer, but couldn’t find any takers for his contract. Given the complications they’ll face if the salary cap remains at $81.5 million, he’ll be a prime compliance buyout candidate.

Others could include Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader ($4.25 million AAV through 2022-23), Chicago’s Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million AAV through 2023-24) provided he’s recovered from his recent surgeries, Calgary’s Milan Lucic ($6 million through 2023-24), Montreal’s Karl Alzner ($4.625 million through 2021-22), and the New York Islanders’ Andrew Ladd ($5.5 million through 2022-23).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fox points out the Wings can afford to absorb Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen ($5.25 million AAV through 2021-22), but general manager Steve Yzerman could avail himself of the opportunity to shed the expensive contracts of fading veterans.

if Seabrook hasn’t been medically cleared to return to action during the buyout period (whenever that might be), the Blackhawks won’t be able to avail themselves of that option. Lucic, Alzner, and Ladd are probably goners. The Isles attempted to trade Ladd to the Minnesota Wild as part of a complicated deal for Zach Parise at the trade deadline.

Could Florida Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky become a compliance buyout candidate? (Photo via NHL Images)

Buffalo’s Kyle Okposo ($6 million AAV through 2022-23), Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky ($10 million AAV through 2025-26), the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist (one year at $8.5 million), Edmonton’s James Neal ($5.75 million through 2022-23) and Anaheim’s David Backes ($6 million for one more season) round out this list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can see those guys receiving compliance buyouts. A couple of readers questioned Bobrovsky being a candidate when I wrote about this in an earlier Rumor update, claiming he’s the victim of the Panthers’ woeful defense.

That’s as may be, but there’s no denying the two-time Vezina Trophy winner has struggled over the last two years. His performance this season was not the Panthers’ front office banked on when they signed him to that whopping big contract.

There’s talk that ownership will want to slash payroll if they miss the playoffs this season. An amnesty buyout for Bobrovsky would be the easiest option.


SPORTSNET: Eric Engels believes the Montreal Canadiens could be well-positioned to use their cap space to their advantage once the salary-cap figures are determined for 2020-21.They have over $63 million invested in 16 players.

Re-signing restricted free agents Max Domi and Victor Mete and re-signing or replacing other free agents will have little impact upon next summer, when such notables as Tomas Tatar, Joel Armia, Jeff Petry, and Phillip Danault will become free agents. Engels suggested they’d have more flexibility if they traded Domi for a defenseman like Minnesota’s Matt Dumba. 

Engels believes it’s all but assured winger Ilya Kovalchuk will return to the Canadiens on a bonus-laden deal next season. He also anticipates they’ll look to the UFA market for a reliable backup for Carey Price. He doubts they’ll go the offer-sheet route this summer, but they could target cap-strapped clubs looking to make cost-cutting trades before the start of next season, like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens fans and pundits have been waiting for Bergevin to use his cap space to provide a significant boost to the roster. This summer could provide that opportunity if the cap remains flat and compliance buyouts aren’t implemented as a cost-cutting measure.

As for the suggestion of trading Domi for Dumba, the latter lacks no-trade protection, but it could be premature to believe Wild GM Bill Guerin will go that route. If he does, he’ll be shopping Dumba to the highest bidder, meaning Domi might not be enough to pry him away from the Wild. 


  1. No compliance buy out for jj? Huh pengy?


    • And still no mention of Bobby Ryan ($7.2 mil for 2 years). Don’t know what the ultimate cost would be to the club but for a tight-fisted owner like Melnyk it’s gotta be better than forking over $14.4 mil for essentially nothing.

      • Ryan Kesler may be worthy of a buyout. $6.875 mil for 2 more years.

      • @Gored 1970 You can’t buyout players that are on LTIR and careers or over the CBA forbids it.

    • JJ is a Penguin 4-Life…..lol

      • Definitely see his name in the rafters next to Mario.

      • Kesler will spend the rest of his contract on LTIR. As such, he will not be able to be bought out and it would really not be necessary.

  2. It’s good that the Habs have a lot of space in what will likely be a tight cap. But for this to work they actually have to try to spend it.
    I favor a true rebuild, trading Tatar and Petry for picks and prospects. But that’s obviously not going to happen. Bergevin still wants to make a playoff run next season. And the biggest ticket items like Hall or Krug are very unlikely.
    Given all this, I would give the youth a chance down the middle. Top three centers being Suzuki, Danault and Kotkaniemi. There will not likely be any better alternatives available and the young players have to be given a proper chance – and decent wingers. They would have enough cap space to shore up the right wing by going after Dadanov, Hoffman or Toffoli. And then trade Domi or Drouin for a Top 4 LD.

  3. I have noted it a couple of times. An amnesty buy out would save a lot of GMs and provide a get out of jail free card for a number of them. Not many missing from the lists above . Maybe J.Carter and definitely Black Jack Johnson
    Sad week . No Memorial Cup for the first time in 100+ Years.

    • Yeah, that is sad. And for local fans there was a good chance the Ottawa 67s could have brought the Cup here for the first time since 1999.

      • Unfortunately for Ottawa fans they would have lost to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

  4. LOL. Possibly Ray. But that would have been a great series.

    Ottawa with a record of 50 11 1 101 pts in 62gp with 296gf 164ga and Edmonton with a record of 42 12 6 94 pts in 64gp with 239gf 167ga

    • With one of Moncton, Sherbrooke or Chicoutimi likely representing the Q, the kicker would have been that neither of the consensus top 2 picks (Lafreniere with Rimouski & Byfield with Sudbury) would have been there.

      In fact, barring big upsets, the only two from the projected Top 10 picks likely to have been there would have been Rossi of Ottawa and Lapierre of Chicoutimi (9th and 10th on most lists)

    • Ya, I might be a little biased living in Edmonton, plus their coach is from my home town in Sask.
      Remember the name Dylan Guenther, right now predicted to go in the top half of the first round in next year’s draft.

      • indeed ….Guenther looks like the real deal.
        Oil Kings had an excellent year , only 1 kid ( Matt Robertson ) drafted to the NHL ….balanced and well coached team

      • Yes Mr Lauer has done a great job. They were ahead of schedule last year and kept it going this season.
        Neighbors might crack the first rd in these years draft. Likely lose Robertson to the AHL next year, but should still be strong next season.

  5. Ottawa 67’s were supposed to do big things in 2019 as well.
    Were up 2 games to 0 on Guelph in the finals and Guelph stormed back and thumped them 4 straight.
    Statistics are nice but you still need to play the games to see if they are accurate. Pressure sports out winners from pretenders.

    • Yes, Vinnie, I KNOW that. Everybody on the effing planet knows that. That’s why I said “good chance.” Nothing more – nothing less. Are the 67s also a bug up your sorry ass? Christ on a crutch you’re a negative SOB. Must be a joy to live around.

  6. Interesting news today that the WHL has, for the first time, granted exceptional player status to a 14 year old from North Vancouver named Connor Bedard. He’ll be playing in the Dub as a 15 year old.
    There have been others allowed this opportunity in the OHL and the QMJHL but never out west.
    The kid must be a player.

    • Must be BCLeafFan. Seem to be hyping these guys a little less since it didn’t work out for Sean Day. Give the kids some space.
      You don’t hear as much about Shane Wright as you did about McDavid, not that I am saying he is that good, but he definitely is playing great as a 16 year old in the OHL.

    • Swift Current must be happy.

      • I understand the Regina Pats have the first pick acquiring Swift Current’s pick in a trade last year with Lethbridge.

  7. My list of the most likely player from each team to be a compliance buyout. I’m not saying I think every one of these player would be bought out.
    Ducks – Kesler (if eligible), otherwise Backes
    Coyotes – Goligoski
    Bruins – Kremlin
    Sabres – Okposo
    Flames – Lucic
    Hurricanes – Gardiner
    Blackhawks – Seabrook (if eligible)
    Avalanche – Johnson
    Blue Jackets – Dubinsky
    Stars – Radulov
    Red Wings – Nielsen
    Oilers – Neal
    Panthers -Bobrovsky
    Kings – Quick
    Wild – Zuccarello
    Canadiens – Alzner
    Predators – Turris
    Devils – Schneider
    Islanders – Ladd
    Rangers – Smith
    Senators – Ryan
    Flyers – Niskanen
    Penguins – Johnson
    Sharks – Jones
    Blues – Faulk
    Lightning – Johnson
    Maple Leafs – Tavares
    Canucks – Eriksson
    Golden Knights – Marchessault
    Capitals – Oshie
    Jets – Little

    • Hmm, should have proofed closer. Kremlin = Krejci.

      • Ya, good list. Agree with NYR on Lundquist. Also the B’s don’t have an option for 2C and they are trying to win a cup, so I think Krecji stays.
        After they moved Backes they don’t have any glaring guys they have to dump. Unfortunately they gave up assets to do it and if we don’t have playoffs and a one time buyout, that would suck for us B’s fans as they are in a good spot to leverage that space.

    • good list Cliff , I agree on most ….not sure who Kremlin is on the Bruins ?
      I could see
      Benn over Radulov for the Stars
      Parise over Zuccarello
      Carter over Quick
      Vlasic instead of Jones
      Fleury or Stastny instead of Marchessault

      • and in case people are wondering

        A player with a NMC must be presented with the option to be put on unconditional waivers when being bought out, but the buy-out still goes forward if they say no. Players have 24 hours to decide when given this option.

        You cannot buy out an injured player without their permission. There is nothing explicitly about this in the buy-out rules in the CBA, but it’s something that has been widely reported over the years from multiple, reputable sources.It is very likely linked to the waiver requirements.

    • I’d say Lundqvist way over Smith. Not a chance NY doesn’t take that gift.

    • Solid list Cliff – makes a lot of sense in most cases. The only one I might question is Marchessault – a consistent 20+ goal scorer with both Vegas and Florida on a cap-friendly $5 mil deal for 4 more years. Fleury has been good for them up to now but the guy turns 36 in November and with two more years to go at $7 mil per. Not sure, however, what the ramifications are regarding the expansion draft and their situation with goaltenders, which might be a factor.

  8. As to the Salary cap what would be wrong with if the cap drops by 15% than all players Cap Hits take a 15% cut for the year and the player takes home 15% less salary. All outgoing years stay as are. this is a one time situation (the shutdown for Covid). That way no team gets an advantage of getting out from under their mistakes and teams and players are still getting a 50/50 split of income. Seems fair for all, just saying.

    • That does seem fair Dave, not sure the agreement allows for that. But if they increase the escrow % by 15% and the revenue isn’t there it is basically the same thing, which is what they are trying to avoid by spreading it over 3 years or compliance buyouts. That way the cap doesn’t drop and teams aren’t shedding players which I don’t think anybody wants.