Andrew Ference (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
The former team captain is reportedly still recovering from injury, so the collective bargaining agreement dictates that the Oilers aren't allowed to kick him to the curb. But with just one year left on his contract, would a buy-out have even been the way to go?
By all accounts, Edmonton defenseman Andrew Ference is a good guy. He's a veteran who sets a good example for teammates off the ice and he's quite involved with community causes wherever he goes. In terms of actually playing hockey at a high level…that shipped has probably sailed.
So it would make sense that the Oilers would have looked into buying their former captain out this summer, but apparently they're not allowed.
According to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, Ference has not been medically cleared to play and under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, an injured player cannot be bought out. Ference had hip surgery in March and had been dealing with labrum problems for quite some time.
But with just one year left on his deal, Ference doesn't seem like much of a buyout candidate anyways. Sure, it's no fun to waste $3.25 million on a guy that hasn't made much of an on-ice contribution to the team lately, but a buyout would mean that Edmonton is on the hook for some of that money for another year. According to Cap Friendly, Ference's buyout would mean the Oilers' cap would take a near-$2 million hit this year and next. Why not just wait a year and have him off the books altogether? Rip it off like a band-aid.
It's a moot point now, but this isn't a big deal for Edmonton regardless. The Oilers' big summer will come two years from now, when Connor McDavid needs his new deal. Spoiler alert – I doubt it's a bridge contract. It will probably be enough money to make Peter Pocklington faint and the Oilers will also have to re-sign Darnell Nurse and Brandon Davidson around the same time. Leon Draisaitl is up next summer, so the checks are gonna be flyin' around GM Peter Chiarelli's office. That is when the GM will have to be savvy, since he already has Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Andrej Sekera making at least $5 million each.
Of course, the current iteration of the Oilers is not complete. In all likelihood, a top-six forward or two gets shipped out for a top-four defenseman or two – but veteran blueliners don't come cheap either.
So in the grand scheme of things, not being able to buy out Andrew Ference is a minor blip for the Oilers. This summer holds bigger things for them.