The first buyout period has opened and teams now have the option to buy out players in advance of the 2023–24 season. With reports that the salary cap will only go up by approximately $1M, teams around the league are feeling the squeeze.
The Vancouver Canucks made headlines last week as it was reported that they would buy out former elite defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. It’s a very expensive buyout that pays him almost $20M in real cash just so he can be culled from the Canucks’ roster.
It’s not unsurprising though, as the Canucks are desperate for salary cap relief and simply can’t afford to do anything else. The Edmonton Oilers could be in a similar predicament, though not to the same extent.
Currently, the Oilers have $78.4M committed for next season which amounts to $5M in cap space, for a roster of 18 players. When you factor in pending extensions for next year NHLers Klim Kostin, Ryan McLeod, Evan Bouchard, and perhaps even Raphael Lavoie, things are looking extremely tight.
It has been rumoured that the Oilers would want to shed Kailer Yamamoto‘s contract. Of course, a trade that allows his salary to move completely off the books is the most ideal situation, but if that does not materialize, the Oilers could look to buy him out.
Here’s what that would look like.
Yamamoto’s contract pays him $3.2M in cash next season but has a cap hit of $3.1M. Upon expiry, he would be a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) with arbitration rights. With just 10 goals and 25 points in 58 games last season, Yamamoto definitely didn’t provide his level of value, struggling to stay in the top-six.
How Yamamoto’s buyout would break down
Because Yamamoto is 24 years old, he is subject to a very team-favourable buyout rate at 1/3. This is the key reason why it makes the most sense to buy him out this season to open up cap space as opposed to anyone else on the roster.
The buyout would cost the Oilers $1.67M and offer savings of $2.13M over a two year term. Via CapFriendly, here’s the breakdown:
If the Oilers buy out Yamamoto, they would incur a cap hit of just $433K for the 2023–24 season, and $533K for the 2024–25 season. Both numbers are extremely small and easy to absorb into the cap. This would result in cap savings of $2.67M this season.
A viable option
Because Yamamoto would be a 1/3 buyout, it is extremely cost effective for the Oilers to buy him out now. The cap savings of $2.67M this season opens up significant flexibility to the Oilers and would allow them breathing room to fill out their roster. Yamamoto’s role could be filled internally by Lavoie or someone else at a much lower cost.
If the Oilers can’t orchestrate a trade that allows them to offload Yamamoto’s entire salary, a buyout seems to be the next best option, by far.
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