Closing the Second Buyout Window

The acquisition of Taylor Beck means a couple of things:
1. The Leafs have just made a huge upgrade dumping Jamie Devane for an actual
player with upside
2. They now have a player who elected to go to arbitration, thus opening the
Leafs up to potentially having a second buyout window (occurs after the Leafs last arbitration case.)

According to NHLNumbers.com, the Leafs are sitting on about
$7.5M in salary cap space, with only Beck and Bernier left to sign and before
taking into account the $5.3M in relief that comes from putting Nathan Horton
on the long term injured reserve, there isn’t any reason to consider this move
for the purposes of gaining cap space. Instead the need may come from the fact
that the Leafs have presently exhausted the number of Standard Players
Contracts and may want to gain additional space for flexibility in future deals
or to take advantage of waiver claims. The Beck and Bernier signings would put
the Leafs at the 50 contract maximum, with one space definitely being freed up
upon the return of Cody Donaghey to the QMJHL.

The problem with buyouts for the purpose of gaining contract
spaces are that you aren’t going to get those SPCs cheap. In the newest NHL CBA
there are more rules than ever before on buying a player out, and this one is
particularly limiting for the Leafs:

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.

So basically, you can’t
buyout any of the cheaper players in order to get a space back, in fact by the
letter of the law, it’s not even possible to buyout Stephane Robidas, who would’ve
been a painful buyout anyway. The players that are eligible are Dion Phaneuf,
Jake Gardiner, James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, and Joffrey Lupul. I think we
can forget about the first three and focus on whether it makes sense to buyout
Joffrey Lupul and/or Tyler Bozak.

Here is Lupul’s buyout
from General Fanager:

lupulbuyout

There’s a nice bit of cap
space gained immediately, that arguably the Leafs don’t really need, but there
are some savings for the next couple of years, that again aren’t really
critical as the Leafs will continue rebuilding. Paying $1.75M after Lupul’s
contract would’ve been up, and stacking that on top of Kessel’s retained salary
looks painful and unappealing. In short, it’s hard to make a case for doing
this and if you prone to optimism, you might believe that Lupul’s offensive numbers
may rebound now that Kessel is gone and he’ll be forced to provide more offence
when he’s healthy. Ideally this, and his more manageable salary after this
season might make him moveable in the future and buying him out could be poor
asset management.

Here is Bozak’s buyout
from General
Fanager
:

bozakbuyout

These numbers are pretty
much as appalling as Lupul’s numbers and the case for buying out Bozak is
limited to the factor that there’s seemingly no interest for him around the
league at the moment, and without Kessel and his likelihood of a reduced role
next season it’s possible that his numbers will decline depending on where he
slots into the lineup. Still there are other options, and the was some limited
rumoured interest in Bozak. Seeing Bozak’s name alongside Kessel’s in dead cap
space does seem fitting however.

So basically those are the
two options, and neither is one is good. The CBA prevents the Leafs from making
trades for the purpose of buying out another team’s player as a player needs to
be on the Leafs contract list at the previous trade deadline in order to be
buyout eligible, and honestly, for a team that’s already near the top of the
league in dead cap space, this isn’t an option we should be excited about
pursuing anyway.

Instead the Leafs need to
consider deals which are mutually beneficial with other organizations. Teams
can trade an expensive expiring contract to the Leafs, and in exchange they’ll
take on a handful of deals the Leafs may wish to rid themselves of, though
looking at the list of Leafs, it’s really hard to identify anyone beyond Matt
Frattin as someone the organization is looking to move on from. This also
likely prevents deals like the Ashton and Broll for a conditional 7th
round pick deal, which would be a convenient way of regaining SPCs.

There’s also the possibility that the Leafs are perfectly
content with what they’ve built, and aren’t concerned about that flexibility
and will rely on one in, one out trades to get them through the season as
opposed to saving spaces. This may be a hurt come NCAA free agent season, but
since that follows the trade deadline it’s hard to imagine that will be an
issue. At the very least there’s nothing that suggests the Leafs should entire
the idea of a buyout and cripple their cap situation further. As unappealing as
the Lupul and Bozak contracts may be, seeing their cap hits for the next six
years without a significant acquisition occurring would be somehow be worse.

Update on the Arbitration Dates:

  • Benjamin

    We have a full roster, why would we worry about cap if we have 12 mil in space for this year. After Bernier is signed we’ll still have lots of room. Who are the LEafs going to get? The Sedins? why would they do that? Keeping Bozak and Lupul for this season will not hurt the cap,and, God willing, we have a better season than last yr, one year comes off the books and if bozak can stay about the same and Lupul rebounds, they’ll be easier to move from the deadline on. We might only get peanuts. We’re not winning anything next yr, that I’ll guarantee. So why not have Bozie and LUPIE on the books for one more season, to burn off one more year of their deals and make it easier to move one or the other, and then worse case, next yr, you buy one out. I don’t see the urgency to buy them out for this season, when as I speak, the have one RFA and 12 mil in cap space. There was also that rumor before Kessel left that they had a solid offer for bozak and turned it down. Now that Kessel is gone, Bozak should be easy to move now or during the season. We have 7-8 C’s on one way contracts, someone is leaving town.

  • Benjamin

    No more buyouts, please. Particularly none of the six year variety.

    Depending how camp goes they could also see about trying to shed a guy like Brennan or Frattin through waivers just before the season starts. Someone might want some free depth.

  • Benjamin

    Like the Kessel salary retention, I’m fine with a buyout – even both of Bozak and Lupul.

    A buy out of them will represent a small part of the cap. It is basically nothing.

    And most importantly we won’t contend until after these buyouts come off the books so the cap space doesn’t matter.

  • Benjamin

    GET RID OF BERNIER!!!!!!!!

    THIS IS SUPPOSE TO BE A COMPLETE RE-BUILD,,,,BERMIER HAS NOT PROVEN HE IS THE GOALIE TO TAKE THIS TEAM ANYWHERE, HES HAD 2 SEASONS AND ONLY PROVED TO ME THAT I WAS RIGHT HE;S NOT ALL THAT…DON’T SEE ANY OTHER TEAM BEATEN DOWN THE DOOR TO GRAB HIM….

    HE IS NOT WORTH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND IF YOU FANS AND LEAFS ORGANIZATION DO..THIS THIS IS A JOKE OF A REBUILD……HES NOT ANYTHING SPECTALER…REIMS HAS BEEN JUST AS GOOD AND JUST AS BAD A BERNIER AND AT ALMOST HALF THE SALARY…AND REIMS IS A REAL LEAF AT HEART AND DESERVES TO BE A PART OF THIS TEAM…HE IS ONE OF OUR OWN AND DID WHAT NO OTHER GOALIE HAD FOR OVER 10 YEARS…..AND IT WAS THE WHOLE TEAM THAT COST GAME 7 NOT REIMS ALONE…WASN’T FOR HIM YOU WOULD STILL HAVE BEEN OUT OF THE PLAYOFFS…

    • Harte of a Lion

      @REIMERFAN, please drop the caps. Capital letters are considered shouting or used when trying to make a SPECIFIC point.
      If Reiner could only learn to use his glove hand for something other than giving up rebounds, I would agree that he “might” be a bonafide starting goalie however his rebound control and giving up an early “cheap” goals have been his major weaknesses.
      I am not convinced Bernier is the right goalie moving forward yet up until Jan 2015,, he was spectacular more often than not.
      I suggested a few weeks ago in another comment that the Leafs should try and sign him for 2/yrs, 4-4.5 million per year. A “prove it” contract like Kadri’s, let him sink or swim.
      If he regains his form (spectacular when he is “on”), extend him. If not, trade him.
      Star caliber goalies do not come along every day!

      I watched Bibeau at a number of Marlies games and I think he has the highest ceiling of all the young net minders in our system. Like Bernier, when he is on his game he is unbeatable, making highlight worthy save after save. Goalies need different coaching/training as so much of what they do is psychological/mental/focus related.
      The Leafs need to bring in Sean Burke as goalie coach/Assistant GM without portfolio.
      After what he did with Dubnyk, I would love him working with Bernier, Reimer and our young goalies… (Maybe he can teach Reims to catch)

      • Benjamin

        Sorry didn’t mean to yell…stems from me a frustrated fan…

        I disagree, Bernier has been known time and time again to let in those early goals even more than Reims, he also has missed alot of g=glove shots as well….

        I feel that Bernier has not gone above and beyound the so called starter position and has not blown Reims out of the water with “OMG” numbers they are not far between and thats another reason I feel they over spent bringing Bernier in same age simarlir numbers ect… never understoond that at all…..and to use the excuse that it wasn’t Berniers fault but the team in front is a cop out just like blaming Reims for the game 7 lost….

        To say Bernier is worth another million or million and half is saying “Hey its ok, to play half ass and not be a superstar that we thought he was we we got him, but hey, why not better than nothing and cheaper than getting an actual proven starter!

        Sorry just a waste of money…again this is a rebuild team or was suppose to be…Reims is the better man all around and if they would have given him the starter rols to actually run with if, I beleive it would be a whole knew story…..but instead they hung him out to dry and again if Bernier had blown me out of the water with his star play…I wouldn’y even be writing this…

        Yes Reims has flaws they all do, but I also saw alot of improvement on his part..and hoepdully with a New coach that doesn’t show favourtisums and goes with the right guy he has a chance as well as a new goalie coach..there may be a whole new Reims…fingers cross

        I just don’t see Bernier deserving of a big new contract for a half ass job…

        I hope their smarter than that…but again we know their not…..remeber the words “REBUILD” Bernier does not fit that system….he will be over paid and again you already have a good goalir at half the price that will worker harder than anyone to make the rebuild work;