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Report: NHL nixes trade-buyout-re-sign plan amidst rumors of Leafs-Lecavalier deal

Jun 26, 2013, 11:23 AM EDT

Vincent Lecavalier Getty Images

The NHL has deemed that trading a player, having the acquiring team buy him out and then re-signing him is a form of CBA/salary cap circumvention, according to the New York Post.

As per The Post’s Larry Brooks, the league notified general managers on Monday it was closing the potential loophole, two days before the NHL’s compliance buyout window was set to open (Wednesday, 11 p.m. ET.)

What’s more, Brooks reports one such deal was already on the table:

It is believed the Lightning and Maple Leafs had discussed such a maneuver regarding Vincent Lecavalier, who has seven years and $45 million remaining on his contract, with the buyout thus worth slightly more than $30 million.

The clubs theoretically would have concocted a swap in which Tampa Bay would have sent an asset — perhaps a draft pick — to rolling-in-dough Toronto along with Lecavalier, who would have re-signed a more modest deal with the Lightning after being bought out by the Leafs.

Such a scheme would have saved Tampa Bay’s ownership a substantial sum while easing a cap squeeze for general manager Steve Yzerman, whose club currently faces a charge of $7.727 million per for Lecavalier through 2019-20 and the danger of significant cap-recapture penalties should No. 4 retire while still under contract.

The Leafs would have received an asset while the 33-year-old Lecavalier would at least have been made whole.

Lecavalier has been the subject of buyout talk for a while.

“We understand this is a difficult contract in a difficult cap environment,” Lecavalier’s agent, Kent Hughes, told the Tampa Bay Times of his client’s current deal. “We recognize (a buyout) is within the club’s right. One way or another there will be clarity in the next seven to nine days.”

Earlier this month, the Bolts captain admitted he’s contemplated being bought out.

“It’s obviously something you think about,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “At the same time, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

It should be noted teams are still allowed to trade players for the sole purpose of the acquiring team buying them out, so long as there’s no plan to re-sign the bought-out player.

The best example of this would be the New York Islanders and Rick DiPietro.

According to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman, Isles GM Garth Snow will reportedly “try to make it worthwhile” for teams to stomach DiPietro’s contract (the buyout would put him on the books until 2029) by possibly taking a bad contract in return, or sending picks and/or prospects.

  1. jpelle82 - Jun 26, 2013 at 11:27 AM

    do they get to change the cba on the fly or wouldnt this have to go to a vote and the nhlpa would have to approve it? guess not huh?

    • hockeydon10 - Jun 26, 2013 at 1:38 PM

      I think there is language in the CBA about not circumventing the cap through unforeseen wrangling. This would mean the NHLPA could file a grievance, but the NHL does have the right to restrict it.

  2. elvispocomo - Jun 26, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    This was speculated before, and I always felt the NHL could prove it to be circumvention outside of the explicit wording in the CBA like they did when blocking the Kovy contract. I don’t think a trade and buyout deal is a problem, so long as the player signs somewhere other than the two teams trading, but this should have been accounted for in the CBA wording as a potential loophole.

  3. valoisjoeybfeld69 - Jun 26, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    All the bloody high price lawyers who wrote the terms of the CBA, and more who reviewed an approved it l screwed it up.

  4. jaguar0413 - Jun 26, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    Why would Toronto want to do this? $30 million over 14 years seems like an insanely high price to pay for a draft pick. Especially considering they are probably going to be eating Komisarek’s contract as well.

    • narfmoo12 - Jun 26, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      What if it was this years first round pick? Toronto gets a stud player for a cost they can easily afford over the next 14 years, and Tampa keeps LeCavalier and saves $30M. Which would you rather have: LeCavalier and $30M or Seth Jones? It’s a tough decision.

      • jaguar0413 - Jun 26, 2013 at 12:54 PM

        It’s just not good value for a single draft pick. There’s no guarantee that Seth Jones will be a stud. Just look at Erik Johnson. Also, they won’t just be giving up money. Toronto will have to send something in the way of a player, prospect or draft pick over to Tampa in order to complete the deal. That doesn’t make sense to me.

        But, then again, this is the team that sent two first round picks to Boston for Phil Kessel.

      • withseidelinn - Jun 26, 2013 at 3:22 PM

        I’d say the Kessel deal isn’t too lopsided anymore…

  5. DonkeyStick - Jun 26, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    Adopt NFL contracts in all sports. Seems to work well

    • mrpinkca - Jun 26, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      This is a bad idea. Even with guaranteed contracts you have players like Colby Armstrong playing through concussions. If you take away guaranteed contracts that sort of thing will happen way more, putting players at risk of serious long term health problems. The NHL would end up where the NFL is: getting sued by former players.

      Also, imagine how long that lockout would have to last to get that.

      • DonkeyStick - Jun 26, 2013 at 1:29 PM

        I’d venture to say 95% of hockey players would continue to play through injuries unlike baseball/basketball. I am suggesting that when they don’t live up to contract, they be cut or “restructure” their deal….I’m with you when it comes to injuries.

    • valarmorghuliss - Jun 26, 2013 at 1:31 PM

      You won’t get MLB and NHL unions to go along with non guaranteed contracts my man

    • hazlydose - Jun 26, 2013 at 4:50 PM

      Sorry, but in the NHL you actually have to pay for your mismanagement. You can’t just cut it off of the roster or restructure it.

      • DonkeyStick - Jun 26, 2013 at 10:05 PM

        Really? You actually have to “pay your mismanagment” or “can’t just cut it off”???? Isn’t that EXACTLY what the Flyers just did?

  6. mrpinkca - Jun 26, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Fascinating.

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