Five things you need to know about NHL buyouts

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The NHL’s buyout period opens Monday, June 16 and runs until the end of the business day on June 30. Who are the candidates? What are the rules? We give you the basics below.

1. How is a compliance buyout different from a regular buyout?
The buyout period comes at this time every year, but this will be the last opportunity for teams to use their compliance buyout option.

If a team wishes to buy out a player, they must first place the player on unconditional waivers and make him available to any other team in the league. If the player passes through waivers unclaimed, the buyout process may continue.

In a regular buyout, a team can terminate the contract of a player, but it doesn’t escape salary cap charges. If the player is younger than 26 years old at the time of the buyout, they will receive one-third of the remaining value of the contract. If the player is 26 or older at the time of they buyout, they will receive two-thirds the original value of the deal. The cap hit charged to the team after the buyout will be spread out over a period of twice the remaining the length of the contract.

Get that? You can figure out what the cap charge would be for any player yourself by using CapGeek’s buyout calculator.

In a compliance buyout, the team still has to pay the player the same amount he’d be owed under a regular buyout, but the team will never receive any charge against the salary cap for it. Compliance buyouts were written into the CBA after last year’s lockout. Each team has two to use, but there is a time limit to use them by. Compliance buyouts will no longer be available after this season.

2. So who still has one, or both, compliance buyouts to use? The following teams have one compliance buyout option left: Detroit, Washington, Rangers, Vancouver, Minnesota, Islanders, Tampa Bay, Edmonton, Nashville, New Jersey.

The following teams have both compliance buyout options remaining: Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Boston, Carolina, St. Louis, San Jose, Phoenix, Florida, Los Angeles, Dallas, Columbus, Calgary, Buffalo, Colorado.

3. Who are the top candidates to get bought out?
Adam Proteau has his list here and I’d add Ondrej Pavelec and Martin Havlat to it. Aaron Rome was placed on unconditional waivers by the Stars on Monday, so he’s also going to get bought out if no one claims him. What about Mike Richards? There will likely be some surprises on top of the expected ones.

4. Who will not get bought out?
Let’s stop with some of the madness here. Playoff power outage Rick Nash will not get bought out by the Rangers. If they don’t want him anymore, they’ll trade him because he has value. David Clarkson will not get bought out by the Leafs because they have used both of their compliance buyouts (his contract was signed too late for it to be compliance buyout eligible anyway) and his regular buyout would be way too costly. I doubt Mike Richards will get bought out because the Kings have plenty of cap space next season to keep everyone together, plus I think he still has enough value that someone would trade something for him. And, even though Adam included Marc-Andre Fleury on his list, I think it’s a long shot the goalie gets bought out. With one year left on his contract, you either trade him, or acquire a proven veteran backup to play behind him, much like they did when they picked up Tomas Vokoun.

5. What about Alexei Yashin?
This is a strange question, isn’t it? But Yashin will still make $2.2 million against the Islanders’ cap for next season. It’s the last year his 2007 buyout will be on New York’s books. These are the dangers you deal with when buying someone out. Yashin hasn’t played for New York in seven years, but he’ll be the seventh highest-paid forward against the cap next season. It may not impact a low-spending team like the Islanders too much, but imagine having to work around something like that if you’re a cap ceiling team.

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