With the NHL’s buyout window now open until June 30, teams can decide to shed their bad contracts over the next two weeks. We’ve already seen the Philadelphia Flyers place Andrew MacDonald on waivers for a buyout and the Los Angeles Kings shed Dion Phaneuf.
The opportunity that this time period presents will get fans speculating about who their team could move on from in order to free up some cap space. In the case of the New York Islanders, the roster is clogged up by depth forwards, who block any prospects from coming up for a real chance with the team. Anyone hoping to see a buyout come from the New York Islanders though is likely to be disappointed.
The Islanders have some pretty iffy contracts. The likes of Andrew Ladd, Cal Clutterbuck and Leo Komarov are all on contracts worth far more than the value they bring and even Johnny Boychuk’s contract isn’t excellent by any means. But the fact is, a team shouldn’t use a buyout unless you have to because it puts you on the hook for more years than you signed up for, despite the yearly charge against the cap being lowered. The Islanders simply don’t need to use a buyout.
With over $22M in cap space and just Anders Lee and Robin Lehner as the significant pending free agents (I guess you can include Anthony Beauvillier too, though restricted), the Islanders have more than enough room to sign both and add a big name on top of that. In the worst case, the likes of Thomas Hickey can always be moved (which seems pretty likely) to free up whatever extra little bit of money is needed. More importantly to the buyout situation however, is that Lou Lamoriello likes what Cal Clutterbuck and Leo Komarov bring, despite the overpayment on the contracts. It’s the reason why Komarov was brought in to start with. Until Clutterbuck or Komarov become a significant deadweight– and we’re not they’re yet– they’ll remain on the team and it’s likely both will remain with the team until their contracts expire. Clutterbuck is also injured and would need to give his consent to be bought out anyways.
Meanwhile, though Boychuk’s contract isn’t excellent, if anything it’s tradeable with some cap retention, if the money is needed. Andrew Ladd, who comes with one of the league’s ugliest contracts, still has four years remaining at $5.5M and probably isn’t done regressing. But buying Ladd out would mean the Islanders are still on the hook for $4.83M for the each of the next four years, then $333,333 for the four years after that. Obviously, that’s not worth the savings of under $700,000 for each of the next four years.
Really, there’s no buyout situation which makes sense for the Islanders. Lamoriello either likes what the players with the bad contracts bring or in Ladd’s case, the contract, albeit an eyesore, is something that really just has to play out.