Following the singing of Sam Gagner, Scott Howson explained that because Gagner had filed for arbitration that a second buy-out window would now be available to the Oilers. The wording in the CBA isn't very clear, but we've confirmed with Mr. Daly that this the case. For those interested in the nuts and bolts of why, Article 11.18 provides a starting point.
11.18 Ordinary Course Buy-Outs Outside the Regular Period. Clubs shall have the right to exercise Ordinary Course Buy-Outs outside the regular period for Ordinary Course Buy-Outs in accordance with Paragraph 13(c)(ii) of the SPC. Each Club shall be limited to no more than three (3) such Buy-Outs outside the regular period over the term of this Agreement pursuant to Paragraph 13 of the SPC. However, in the event that a Club has only one salary arbitration hearing pursuant to Section 12.3(a) in a given League Year, such Club shall not be entitled to exercise such an Ordinary Course Buy-Out outside the regular period. Moreover, a Club shall not be entitled to exercise an Ordinary Course Buy-Out outside the regular period for: (i) any Player who was not on the Club's Reserve List as of the most recent Trade Deadline, or (ii) any Player with an Averaged Amount less than $2,750,000. The dollar amount of $2,750,000 set forth in this Section 11.18 shall be increased on an annual basis at the same percentage rate of annual increase as the Average League Salary, with the first such increase occurring based upon a comparison of the 2014/15 Average League Salary to the 2013/14 Average League Salary. By way of example, if the Average League Salary for the 2014/15 League Year has increased by ten (10) percent from the Average League Salary for the 2013/14 League Year, then the figure of $2,750,000 stated in Section 11.18, shall be increased by ten (10) percent to $3,025,000.
I'm not a lawyer, but to me that language isn't very clear. In fact, "However, in the event that a Club has only one salary arbitration hearing pursuant to Section 12.3(a) in a given League Year, such Club shall not be entitled to exercise such an Ordinary Course Buy-Out outside the regular period" would seem to indicate the exact opposite of what Howson has told us. The key is the reference to Section 12.3(a) which covers club elected arbitration, which is not what happened in the case of Sam Gagner. The key is to read Article 11.18 in conjunction with Paragraph 13 of the Standard Player Contract (SPC) which I've included below.
The Club, in addition to other rights hereunder, at its option, by written notice delivered to the Player in accordance with Exhibit 3, may terminate this SPC on the following conditions:
(c) The notice of termination shall be effective if given in the form attached as CBA Exhibit 20, with a copy to the NHLPA and Central Registry as follows:(i) beginning the later of June 15 or forty-eight (48) hours after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals and ending at 5:00 p.m. New York time on June 30; and
(ii) For Clubs who have Club or Player elected Salary Arbitration filings pursuant to Article 12, within the forty-eight (48) hour period beginning on the third day following the later of: (i) the Club's receipt of its last salary arbitration award; or (ii) settlement of its last case (provided such award was received or such settlement occurred prior to 7:00 p.m. New York time; awards or settlements that occurred or were received at or after 7:00 p.m. New York time will be deemed to have occurred or received the following business day for purposes of this provision).
And there it is, starting on the third day following the settlement a 48 hour buy-out period starts. For the Oilers that means that as of 9AM this morning that buy-out window is open. A quick look at capgeek.com shows the Oilers with only $1.348M of available cap space right now. With that little available is a buy-out something the Oilers should be looking at? Let's break down the Oilers cap situation and see.
The first thing that needs to be pointed out is that capgeek doesn't limit a team's roster to 23 players like the NHL does. In the case of the Oilers this means the cap is being calculated with 24 men on the roster including nine defenceman. Depending on which of those nine (I'm assuming the team will carry eight defencemen to start the season at least) gets sent down the Oilers real cap space on opening day will range from $2.123M - $2.873M. The minimum represents sending Corey Potter down, the maximum Anton Belov. Because of the recapture rule that is now part of the CBA demoting anyone else will land the Oilers somewhere between these two numbers.
It's not a lot but it should be enough to give the Oilers a little bit of wiggle room. Certainly it's not so dire that they have to do something like trade Hemsky just to clear some cap space. Also because the cap is calculated daily the space that the Oilers do have almost seems to grow as the season progresses. $1.0M in cap space at the trade deadline is enough to add a player with a cap hit of $4.575M. So as it stands now the Oilers should be able to do just about anything they want to at the deadline with the space they've got. The only thing that could hurt the Oilers would be a rash of injuries forcing them to carry some extra bodies for an extendd period of time. But even then long-term IR should provide at least some relief.
The Oilers have the option to buy someone out but it's not something I think they have to do if they're happy with the lineup they have. That said, and because I'm not happy with the lineup, I'd be very tempted to buy-out Nick Schultz to help clear up the log jam on the blue line and open up the space needed to add some depth to the forwards corps.
What would you do?