Why A Matt Martin Buyout Will Never Happen

With the Leafs signing fourth-liner Matt Martin to a contract worth $10 million, there’s been lots of talk already about how the Leafs will probably regret that contract in the future. By extension, there’s been lots of talk about how the Leafs might eventually get out from under that contract.

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The expansion draft is a possibility, though probably unlikely. As far as rules about which players you have to expose, two forwards must be exposed that both played at least 40 games the previous season, as well as be under contract for the 2017-2018 campaign.

I imagine the Leafs will protect Van Riemsdyk, Kadri, and Komarov for starters. As far as two forwards the Leafs have to expose, the team likely exposes one of Holland or Bozak along with Martin. And given the good defensemen that will likely be left unprotected, there’s a good chance Las Vegas chooses a forward from Toronto.

But, you’d have to think most GMs would prefer to have Holland or Bozak than Martin. So it’s probably not going to happen.

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Another option is buyout. We shouldn’t assume anything, but let’s do that anyways. Let’s assume that no matter how good or bad Martin is next year, the Leafs don’t buy him out one year into his deal. If he does perform poorly, the team probably gives him a second chance.

So maybe they buy him out after two years. The organization obviously likes him so this might be unlikely, but let’s just pretend. What would that look like?

First of all, the bulk of Martin’s contract is paid out in signing bonuses (($6.5M out of $10M) so it’s what we’d consider “buyout-proof”. Now that we recognize that, let’s get into the nitty gritty: Martin’s buyout would carry a cap hit of $2M for two years, followed by a cap hit of $250k for two years.

Not too pretty but not too awful either. So why will a buyout never happen?

Because if you send a player on a one-way deal down to the AHL, their cap hit on the NHL team becomes their NHL cap hit minus $925k. So here’s what a 2018 buyout would look like versus the Leafs just sending him down:

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Season Buyout Cap Hit AHL Cap Hit
2018-2019 $2,000,000 $1,575,000
2019-2020 $2,000,000 $1,575,000
2020-2021 $250,000 $0
2021-2022 $250,000 $0

So, it makes literally no sense for the Leafs to buy out Matt Martin’s contract at any point. They’d have a higher cap hit doing so in all four seasons than if they just placed him on waivers and had him report to the Toronto Marlies.

And, just for clarity, the same holds true if the Leafs ever decided to buy Martin out at an earlier or later date. If the Leafs were to buy Martin out in 2017 they’d be on the books for three seasons with a $2M cap hit, and three seasons with a $250k cap hit. If they bought him out in 2019, it would be one season of a $2M cap hit and one season of a $250k cap hit.

Of course, salary retention in a trade is another possibility. Given that you can retain up to 50% of a player’s salary in a trade, the Leafs could conceivably get Martin’s cap hit down to as low as $1.250M until his contract expires in 2020.

Put in another way, this is a really long-winded way of me saying, “yes, Matt Martin’s contract is indeed buyout-proof.

Hopefully this article isn’t taken as overly doom and gloom. “They’re already talking about buying Matt Martin out!? Calm down!”. This is more-so just an exercise in exploring the various options if the Leafs do in fact come to regret Martin’s contract. It also, hopefully, should serve to show people that if the Leafs end up regretting his contract the consequences aren’t that bad. Obviously you’d prefer to avoid that mess altogether, but a cap hit of $1,575,000 for two seasons isn’t that bad.

As we can see, while Martin’s contract is laden with signing bonuses and thus buyout-proof, the Leafs have other options as far as getting out from under his contract. Hopefully it never comes to that.

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  • Shhh

    Excellent observation! This basically negates the financial arguments against Martin.

    I actually think that Martin will be a huge benefit in that he can protect Marner, retrieve pucks, screen the goalie and play defense. He won’t be a 4th line player on the Leafs. And he will contribute a decent amount of offense pouncing on any rebounds Matthews and Marner lay out for him.

  • Shhh

    The current capologist on the leafs is as bad as Poulin Mr Celery Cap. I’m getting carlnonis flashbacks and I already hate Martin as much as Clarkson.

    Most of my friends don’t agree the signings were bad and I’m so glad I have friends like you to know that I’m sane and normal.

  • wallcrawler

    The way I see it is that people look at Martin’s penalty totals and think they’re stupid penalties to take. Sure fighting is on the way out but it still happens, as Martin was in 11 of them last year. So what? That’s 55 minutes out of 119 that the Islanders weren’t shorthanded which leaves 64 minutes which is 32 penalties they were. Now of them 32 penalties you have to think there were, for arguments sake 7 penalties which were offsetting roughing minors. So that leaves 25 penalties.
    Now for comparison, let’s look at Kadri. 73 minutes of which 1 I believe was for fighting. So 68 minutes or 34 penalties of which 4 were for diving. Now diving penalties are offsetting since the other player is whistled for hooking or tripping. Now that brings us to 30 penalties where you can take about 5 off, for arguments sake again and I’m being liberal here because Kadri is no where near the physical player Martin is, for those offsetting roughing minors. Which brings us down to 50 minutes or 25 penalties shorthanded. So what I would like to know, whose penalties are the stupid ones, Martin’s or Kadri’s.

  • Jeremy Ian

    Bozak will be traded this summer or by the deadline, I am pretty sure.

    So many of the non-core veterans roll off the books at the end of next year. Really, there is an astonishing turnover that has to be considered. EDIT: Michalek, Laich, Polak, Greening, Robidas, Hunwick, Bernier, Cowen (RFA but wouldn’t be qualified). That’s $25m presuming c. $2.5m for Polak

    So, that leaves Holland and Martin to be exposed.

    And yes, worst comes to worst, he might be a dragging anchor. He comes off the books just as the Leafs have to start signing up their real future.

    It’s just not that bad. I know that doesn’t make for drama. But did the Burke-Nonis era so marinate us in all-is-lost storytelling that all we can do is hope for saviours like Stamkos or prophesize the destruction of the Temple?

  • Trevor5555

    If Toronto is seeking cap relief for Martins contract in two years some major mistakes were made. Our best players are either locked up or on ELCs and once our bad contracts expire after this year and next we will have one of the most frugal rosters in the NHL.

    Personally I find it in bad taste to talk about buying a contract out 2 days after it was signed and before Martin even had a practice or game with the team. If you dont like the player or contract fine write an article about that but it seems like an underhanded cheap shot to talk about a buyout now. Give the guy a chance to earn the money before we bring that up. I mean were going to pay Laich 4.5M to play the same role next year and Greening 2.6M. Money aside they could be good players for us.

    I like Martins game and think he will bring a usefull dynamic to the 4th line and we can afford to spend an extra million here or there to get guys we like who bring a specific skill set. Cap space is only an asset when you spend it on players / assets.

    • SEER

      I concur 100%.
      The player hasn’t even stepped on the ice yet,
      and there is an article about a buyout…WTF???

      and the picture used on the article announcing Polak was signed….man o man.

      Why not the picture of when Polak took a puck in the face and shortly later he came back and set up a goal.

      It is small wonder the Leafs brass has frozen out Toronto Media.

      Think of the grief Kessel was put through here in Toronto by similar type derogatory articles,
      and all he did when he left Toronto and the media circus is win the Stanley cup and almost the Hart trophy.

      The Leaf brass has targeted that it needs to get bigger as indicated by the recent draft and by their recent free agent signings. Toronto has a lot of prospects with skill already and a winning team needs different kinds of players to succeed. Especially in the playoffs.

      Are you “diehard by definition” or are you trolls?

  • CMpuck

    All successful teams have at least one or two agitators who drive opponents crazy.

    The Leafs could have three/four: Martin, Komorov and Soshnikov/Brown.

    I think this $2.5M cap hit is just fine, just 3.3% of this season’s cap and that percentage will fall, presumably, as the cap numbers grows.

    I have no doubt Martin’s presence will help out the kids over the next few years.

    Nice job Lou & Co.

  • SEER

    W2AY too many people getting WAY too excited about this signing.. and forgetting it appears, that any player can be traded.. (even before the season starts..)

    We also will be adding (most likely) 5-6 rookies this season.. and their Cap hits are very small, so we also need to have some added money in vets.. (better than almost every other deal this FTD)


    Take your mind off of it for awhile.. My newest 2016 Draft Prospect video..

    Vladimir Bobylev / (a.k.a.: Vladimir Bobylov / Bobylyov) /
    Left Wing / shoots L /
    Born Apr 18 1997 / Lipetsk, Russia /
    19 yrs. ago /
    Height 6.02 / Weight 203


    2014-15 Vancouver Giants – WHL
    52 Games… 3 Goals… 6 Assists… 9 Points… -2
    2015-16 – Victoria Royals – WHL
    72 Games… 28 Goals… 39 Assists… 67 Points… * +45
    5 Games… 0 Goals… 7 Assists… 7 Points… +4 *PPG+

    Royal Rider: All Vladimir Bobylev’s 2015-16 Season Goals – TML

    –> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sutBr2aYM4

    • Capt.Jay

      What I like about this signing is that he won’t be out scoring a ton of goals causing us to win the odd game here and there hindering the rebuild. He will however provide protection to a young group that’ll be our core in the future.

      This is a smart move as we have no need for cap space this year and a boat load comes off next year.

  • Capt.Jay

    Holly Christ. The guy hasn’t even been signed for a day & the negative Toronto reporters are hitting this crap hard! It sounds like Simmons reporting. Great reason not to sign in Toronto. Next onto picking onto babies & old ladies.

  • Shhh

    The moment I saw the Martin signing I was overjoyed! Instead of immediately searching for numbers (term, dollars, points, penalty minutes, advanced stats) I simply recalled the last time I watched him actually play..you should try that sometime guys. Clarkson (who really has zero business being apart of this convo) had a 30 goal season.. Alot of good that number did us eh? Why? Because it was in the past. Sure people knew when we signed him the chances of him repeating that were slim..but tons more people gave him the benefit of the doubt based on the past. the only thing that matters is what Martin is going to do in the future and I think all of your precious numbers are fogging up your crystal balls over here at leafs nation.

    Yes.. It is possible that with different line mates he might be less effective than he was with NY but then doesn’t it follow that he could be far more effective aswell?

    I’m aware that any discussion about him before he plays is impossible to prove and honestly I’m not even trying to make a case in saying he will be great. All I’m saying is to present it in a way that is open ended instead of immediately throwing him under the bus. He surely doesn’t deserve it and I think it’s awful that his first taste of his new fans is so bitter.

    The writers on this site should smarten up and not use negativity as click bate and comment generation..because while the site may have had a good week the writers reputations have taken a big hit.

  • Capt.Jay

    I like this site, read it all the time. This article though reeks of pointless, unproductive toronto media nonsense.
    Here’s what I think will happen with Matt Martin…he’ll keep other players honest, he’ll knock some skulls around and make the leafs much tougher to play against, his attitude and hard-work ethic will be appreciated by fans and more importantly will be a measure for the kids as part of their development. I think he will quickly be a fan favourite.

  • Capt.Jay

    Must be a slow news week all this talk about a minor contract for a vetran 4th liner is getting boring. The toronto media hasn’t changed apparently, bloggers old school idiots like Simmons, just a bunch of negative nellys looking for attention

  • SEER

    Have one more smile for today.., I did double-duty..

    I really like the chemistry that already seems to be established, between Bobylev & Walker.., as they play regularly on the same line in the Victoria Royals.. Great 2015-16 assists and goals from both of them..! If you watch both of these videos I made for them, you will also see a lot of their assists.., as well..

    There’s also more Victoria Royals worth keeping an eye on.., imo… Soy is amazing..!

    Jack Walker/ (a.k.a.: Jonathan Walker) /
    Defense / shoots L /
    Born Jul 30 1996 / Edina, MN /
    19 yrs. ago /
    Height 5.11 / Weight 180


    2014-15 – Victoria Royals – WHL
    70 Games… 18 Goals… 37 Assists…55 Points… +18
    10 Games… 4 Goals… 7 Assists…11 Points… +4 +PPG+
    2015-16 – Victoria Royals – WHL
    72 Games… 36 Goals… 48 Assists… 84 Points… +30 *PPG+
    13 Games… 8 Goals… 8 Assists… 16 Points… +8 *PPG+

    Wheelin’ Walker: All Jack Walker’s 2016-16 Goal Highlights – TML (HD)

    —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKgWUURlPJs

  • StubbleJumper

    I agree with comments above, noting the fact that it is very lame to be talking about a buyout of this guy before he has even hit the ice. The way I see it, they are hoping for Martin to become a kind of Draper (or Helm) 2.0 – this would be consistent with Babcock’s approach to roster chemistry. He might get there, he has upside IMO – the Leafs obviously think he can, given the term they were willing to give him. In the mean time he is a very versatile player that can go up and down the line rotation – forechecking, agitating and intimidating all the way. He might also be a flop, but he is not Clarkson and this admin team has proven it can get out from under bad contracts, with or without buyouts (Cowen, for the moment, notwithstanding).

    While I’m here – and rather than go to comment on each recent post in other threads – just another reminder to everyone to relax. We are not seeing this management team “getting jitters” or “succumbing to pressure” or “abandoning analytics.” Yes, they are taking some chances but they HAVE to. (That is also why they got themselves lots of picks). But none of the “chances” they have taken so far are onerous, franchise killers.

    Martin – my comments above.
    Andersen – give him a legitimate shot at being #1, has competition for that job in Bernier (who has one last kick at the can this year). If he is a flop, then worst case scenario is, he becomes a (decent) backup after Bernier leaves town (for about the same price as Bernier) and they go look for another #1. They are still rebuilding so what’s the rush? Best case scenario, he IS the franchise goalie!
    Draft picks – Auston Matthews (no brainer) and some over age guys whom, you know, just might mature and be ready for primetime at the same time as Marner, Hyman, etc…. But, Matthews might be a flop, too …. however it is highly unlikely that Nylander, Marner AND Matthews will all be flops – so, you know, worst case scenario is this admin team has some built in contingency and best case scenario is that they ALL tear up the league (eventually).

    Bottom line – yes, the Shanaplan has some holes in it – but with so many variables at play that is a reality for all teams. But I do not see how the Leafs could not (quite easily) recover from any mistakes (erm, chances) that they have made (taken) so far in off season 2016.