A quick guide to the NHL's compliance buyouts

A quick guide to the NHL's compliance buyouts

May 1, 2013, 10:15 am
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Why can’t the Flyers just buy out Danny Briere, and then re-sign him to a new contract with a lower cap hit?

That question has been asked frequently since the veteran Flyer acknowledged he’s a likely candidate to be bought out (see story), because he has two years left on his deal with a cap hit of $6.5 million for each.

As it turns out, however, the Flyers cannot renegotiate a new deal with Briere – or any other player they might choose to buy out – because the new CBA prohibits it.

Let’s dig a little deeper into just what the NHL’s CBA permits teams to do, with regards to compliance buyouts.

Here’s what the CBA allows
Each NHL team has been awarded two compliance buyouts that can be used at the end of this season or following the 2013-14 season. The buyouts are meant to help teams adjust to the falling salary cap; the cap decreases to $64.3 million next season from $70.2 million this year.

Teams can use none, one or both of their buyouts after this season comes to a conclusion. The same goes for next summer. It’s up to each organization to decide whether and how buyouts are employed.

When a player is bought out, his salary will not count against his former team’s cap. He will, however, receive a salary worth either 1/3 or 2/3 of the original contract he signed, depending on his age. A player under the age of 26 at the time of his buyout is eligible to receive 1/3 of his salary, and a player over the age of 26 will receive 2/3 of the remaining value of his salary.

Here’s what the new CBA forbids
This is where things get a little tricky (and a little disappointing, to the many Briere fans who have sent e-mails to CSNPhilly.com).

Players who are bought out by a team cannot have their contracts renegotiated by that team. So, as stated above, the Flyers would be prohibited from buying out Briere or any other player whose cap hit might be undesirable and then re-signing him to a lesser contract.

When a team buys out a player’s contract, that player is not permitted to re-join that club for the duration of the season that follows the summer during which he was bought out. That means that a player bought out by the Flyers in 2013 cannot play for the Flyers during the 2013-14 season, and a player bought out by the Flyers in 2014 cannot play for the Flyers for the duration of the 2014-15 season.

Of course, that doesn’t mean a player bought out by the team will never return. As the Flyers have proven multiple times over the years (Simon Gagne, Brian Boucher … ) they aren’t afraid to bring players back into the fold.

When do buyouts occur?
As of now, compliance buyouts are scheduled to take place over the same brief timeframe as ordinary buyouts: Starting the latter of June 15 or 48 hours after the final Stanley Cup Final game, and ending at 5 p.m. Eastern on June 30. However, because of the late start to this abbreviated season, the latest the final playoff game could be is June 28 -- and 48 hours from June 28 is June 30 (which is also the day of the NHL draft).

Thus, expect the NHL to clarify the buy-out period at some point in the coming weeks.

If you're looking for more information of the NHL's new CBA, both the NHLPA and CapGeek.com have some more easy-to-digest information.

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