Friday, July 7, 2023

Building the cap era’s All Buyout Team

It’s the summer, which means I start taking requests. That doesn’t always work out well for me, but you guys tend to have some good ideas. And over the last week, there’s one that keeps coming up: In the wake of another window for teams to disappear their contract mistakes, a whole lot of you seem to want to know what an All Buyout Team would look like.

Sounds good, let’s do it. But first, a few ground rules™:

  • We’re going to build a 23-man roster, with 13 forwards, seven defensemen and three goalies.
  • This is cap-era only.
  • All flavors of buyouts count, including the standard version, the compliance version, and an odd one we’ll get to.
  • We’re basing the selections on the player’s entire career, with an emphasis on their peak – not on what they were by the time the buyout arrived. The actual buyout number isn't the main factor, but when in doubt we won't be able to resist it.

Can we find enough good players to fill a roster? And if so, what does that say about the job NHL GMs have been doing over the years? Let’s find out.


Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers, 2020

Right off the bat, we start with a guy who you may not remembering being bought out, even though it only happened a few years ago. The Rangers bought out the final year of Lundqvist’s contract in 2020, splitting from their franchise goalie after a 15-year career (and 20 years in the organization). At the time, Lundqvist intended to keep playing and went on to sign with Washington, although a heart condition kept him off the ice. The Rangers ate a $5.5 million cap hit in 2020-21, but they gave the All Buyout Team a Hall-of-Fame starter, so we thank them for it.

Years bought out: 1 x $8.5 million cap hit

Braden Holtby, Canucks, 2021

We’ll add just about the only thing our roster doesn't get from Lundqvist in a Cup ring thanks to Holtby. You don’t see a lot of guy sign two-year UFA deals and then get bought out after one season. Then again, the Canucks have a knack for thinking different.

Years bought out: 1 x $4.3 million cap hit

Ilya Bryzgalov, Flyers, 2013

We’ve got other goaltending options to look at, including Cory Schneider and Martin Jones, and even Rick DiPietro (who played his last game ten years ago but is still on the Islanders’ payroll until 2029). But we simply can’t build this team without Bryzgalov, who cost the Flyers a whopping $23 million to buy out back in 2013, just two years into a nine-year deal. It was a post-lockout compliance buyout, so there was no cap hit, but still – imagine asking your boss to cut a $23-million check to make a mistake go away. Luckily it was the last roster management error the Flyers ever made.

Years bought out: 7 x $5.667 million cap hit*

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