It’s that time of year when fans prepare for playoff pushes and other fans go full Joffrey and demand heads on stakes.
By heads on stakes, I mean buyouts in this case. For any suffering supporter who can’t stand to look at an expensive star player’s face another second, there’s hope. Remember the compliance buyouts from last summer? They’re BACK, albeit not in Pog form.
The rules, per NHL.com:
Under the collective bargaining agreement signed last season, teams are allowed two compliance buyouts within designated time periods last summer and this summer. That’s two buyouts total, not two per summer, and the buyouts can be used at a team’s discretion. That means some teams can (and did) use both last summer, some used one and some saved both for this summer.
When using a compliance buyout, a team “must pay two-thirds of the remaining contract across twice the remaining term of the deal. The bought-out players become free agents July 5 (2013, and July 1, 2014) and can sign with any team, other than the one that bought out the player.”
A refresher of last year’s compliance buyouts can be found here. But here’s a short list of who does and does not have flexibility.
TWO BUYOUTS LEFT: Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Florida, Los Angeles, Nashville, Ottawa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Jose, St. Louis, Winnipeg
ONE BUYOUT LEFT: Detroit, Edmonton, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Washington
NO BUYOUTS LEFT: Chicago, Montreal, Philadelphia, Toronto
Factoring that list in, I’ve ranked my top five compliance buyout candidates below. My key criteria: (a) No one would want any part of this player’s contract in a trade; (b) this player wasn’t signed last summer, as sheer pride would likely stop most GMs from admitting their mistakes after just one year; (c) this player is not suffering from a long-term injury.
1. Ville Leino, LW, Buffalo Sabres
(Three years left, $4.5-million cap hit)
He scored in his first game as a Sabre Oct. 7, 2011 and it was all downhill from there. In the 132 contests since, Leino has nine goals. He has zero in 54 games this season. Calling him a buyout candidate is a gross understatement.