Buyouts are a double edged sword. A club reaches an impasse with a player for whatever reason, and management decides that it’s best to pay the player to go away. The club usually picks up some cap relief by doing this, and the player is free to pursue a new deal in a new city. The caveat is that the buyou t remains on the cap for twice as long as the amount of years remaining on the deal.
For the 2021 season, the buyout period begins 48 hours after the Stanley Cup is awarded. In other words, we could start seeing some buyouts shortly.
Sometimes it works out with aplayer on new club after a buyout. Sometimes, not so much. The Oilers picked up Kyle Turris for two years prior to the beginning of the 2021 abbreviated season. Turris had previously been cut loose from the Nashville Predators after completing just two years of a six year deal valued at six million per season. It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Turris in Edmonton so far. Barring something near miraculous, his 2021-22 season will likely be his last in the organization.
There’s at least one, perhaps two Oilers that could be bought out this offseason. Certainly, there will be other clubs that will bite the bullet and cut some players free from their current deals. Can the Oilers capitalize on a castaway?
Frank Seravalli published his list of prospective buyouts for this offseason earlier today. If all ten of those players are bought out, it will be an especially busy free agency season. The Oilers could use a piece or two at the right price. Here are a few players who might fit Edmonton’s bill on a budget, if they are bought out.
- BEN BISHOP
Goaltender Ben Bishop did not suit up for the Dallas Stars this past season as he was rehabbing surgery from a torn meniscus that he sustained during the play-in series back in August 2020. Bishop is headed towards the fifth year of a six year contract in Dallas that’s valued at a notch under 5MM AAV, and it also includes a NMC. Due to his NMC, the Stars would automatically have to protect Bishop in the upcoming expansion draft instead of Anton Khudobin, who has a smaller deal and is not coming off meniscus surgery.
Bishop’s numbers were good in his last year (.920 in 2019-20,) they were stellar in 2018-19 (.934 SV)
There’s a fair chance that the Stars end up buying Ben Bishop out of his remaining two years in order to protect Anton Khudobin. With the relative uncertainty of what’s happening in the Oilers’ crease with Mikko Koskinen, the Oilers may show some interest to the 34 year old Bishop if the price is nice.
- KEITH YANDLE
I’ve had about enough talking about Duncan Keith over the past week. If the Florida Panthers decide to go on and buy out Keith Yandle, it could give the Oilers a chance to pick up a player without having to go through some song and dance about pedigree or intestinal fortitude or whatever quantifiers that try to justify the Oilers sending picks and prospects to Chicago. If Keith Yandle is bought out, it could potentially bring a second left defenceman into the mix should Oscar Klefbom not return. Normally, Keith Yandle would be really expensive, but I wonder if his price would come down after a potential buyout. Yandle’s underlying numbers hold up nicely when with Radko Gudas and Anton Stralman, but his cost would be prohibitive under normal :circumstances (he’s got two more years at 6.35 MM each). Yandle averaged 17:15 in ice time this year and had an abysmal 2.7 S% on the year. A chance for value could present itself if the Panthers cut him loose from the remainder of his deal.
- PAUL BYRON
A former 40 point scorer, Byron’s last two seasons have been somewhat forgettable in part due to a knee injury (and a back injury to go with it). Byron’s cap hit is a bit chunky at 3.4MM, and he’s got two more years to go on the deal. Byron averages just under thirteen minutes per game this season, he finished with 16 points in 46 total games on a line with Jake Evans and Artturi Lehkonen. I think he’d be an OK bet on an inexpensive one year deal to play left wing on the bottom six if the Canadiens cut him loose this summer.
Buyout season starts soon. If the Oilers cut ties with James Neal, they’ll pick up nearly four million in cap space for two years. Whether or not they pick up a previously bought out player, they could certainly use that cap space to upgrade the roster as they look to get out of the first round of the 2022 NHL Playoffs.