The twitterverse was buzzing this morning after Micheal Grange tweeted the NHL has agreed to two compliance buyouts per team for the 2013/2014 season. Sadly it didn’t include Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr, but it still got most fan’s attention. The interesting part is that the buyouts will allegedly come from the player’s share of HRR.

Within in moments many were speculating how the Edmonton Oilers would appoach this scenario. I’m not sure two buyouts is likely, but one could happen.

Whether teams take advantage of both buyouts will depend on what next year’s salary cap will be. All arrows point to it being around $60 million, which would be $10 million less than this year, and that would put a lot of teams in a cap crunch.

The Oilers salary situation for next year looks like this: 

Forwards (9) Cap hit
Taylor Hall $6 million
Jordan Eberle $6 million
Shawn Horcoff $5.5 million
Ales Hemsky  $5 million
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins $3.75 million
Nail Yakupov $3.75 million
Ryan Smyth $2.25 million
Eric Belanger  $1.75 million
Ben Eager  $1.1 million
D-men (4)  
Justin Schultz $3.75 million
Nick Schultz $3.5 million
Jeff Petry $1.75 million
Corey Potter $775,000
Goalies (1)  
Devan Dubnyk $3.75 million
Total (14) $48.625 million

That means the Oilers would need to sign 9 players for $11.375 million. That would include Ladislav Smid who likely will be around $3.5-4 million, and another top-four D-man, possibly Ryan Whitney.

The obvious buyout for the Oilers is Shawn Horcoff. He has a cap hit of $5.5 million, but he will be owed $7 million. It would be a $4.69 million buyout (going off the 2/3 formula that currently exists for players like Horcoff). None of it would count against the cap.

Horcoff would have value on this team in the future because you need some veteran experience down the middle. If he was their 3rd line centre making $3 million I doubt many would complain. However, the problem is, he carries a $5.5 million cap hit and that is too much to pay your 3rd line centre.

The reality is you need strength down the middle to win, and if the Oilers buyout Horcoff they are pretty thin at centre.

The current list of free agent centres who would be available this summer, and who could fill a 3rd line role, isn’t that long. Ideally the Oilers would sign a 3rd line centre with some size and a decent scoring punch, but there aren’t many of those players available.

Drew Miller, Matt Cullen, Saiku Koivu, Boyd Gordon, Manny Malhotra, Matthew Lombardi, David Steckel, and Jeff Halpern would be available if they don’t re-sign. I doubt Detroit lets Miller walk, so Gordon might be the most attractive but he hasn’t shown much offensive flair during his career.

The Oilers could look at Nathan Horton and Andy McDonald, but they are more 2nd liners and both have a history of concussions.

Buying out Horcoff would make financial sense for the Oilers, but who they replace him with is the issue. They could promote Eric Belanger, but he’d need to rebound from a brutal 2011/2012 season for that to make sense. Anton Lander would need an incredible second half in the American League to get any serious consideration. I think Lander will be a solid 3rd liner in a few years.

The Oilers don’t have a lot of depth down the middle, and while buying out Horcoff frees up a lot of cap space, it would open up another area of weakness on the team.

The other option might be trading Horcoff. A team that needs to get to the cap floor would love Horcoff’s contract, because they pay him less money than his actual cap hit. The only potential snag with that idea is that he has a modified no movement clause this summer.

If they don’t facilitate a trade, buying him out would make the most sense financially.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    I now understand the underlying issue with DSF and the reason why we, as oiler fans are impotent to stop his trolling of this website. Much like in ancient warfare he who has the high ground has a tactical advantage!
    DSF has attached himself to a team who has been an absolute bane for the oil in the nhl and to add insult to injury this year in the ahl.
    Well played DSF I happen to frequent many other forums not related to hockey and the trolling is juvenile at best.
    A man such as yourself will fade into the abstract once your mighty (boring) Wild are brought low but good on you for pissing off as many people as you can along the way.

  • DSF

    Thin down the centre? They have been thin down the center with Horcoff in the lineup for how many seasons now?

    Signing him was a goofy move made by an inexperienced and panicking GM who has been in over his head since he was hired. With exception for ’06 that is. Slap a COD sticker on Horcoff and call FED-EX.

  • blueorangekoolaid

    @DSF if all those ELC’s are going to replace Heatley’s production won’t they hit some of their bonuses thus inflating their cap hit’s in year two and three? I don’t doubt Minnesota has a lot of depth but they could just as easily have an injury year like Edmonton two years ago or have some sure fire prospects flop like everyone else. If you love the Wild, great. Most contributors to these comments on OILERSnation like Edmonton. Go start Wildnation

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Put me down for buying out Horcoff and Belanger. Despite being so weak at center already, the Oilers will get/need some bargains that have been cut adrift by other clubs. Upgrading on Horc and Belanger should be easily done with the number of players that are going to be sent packing. In the fall Yakupov could very well get to wear his No. 10 for his first game in Edmonton.

    Could be some surprising names included in that crop of bargain players to be had.

  • GVBlackhawk

    No one will trade for Horcoff.

    The extra 1.5 million in cap hit is not enticing enough for a payroll basement team to pay 5.5 million in actual dollars for Shawn Horcoff.

    I doubt anyone would be willing to take on Hemsky’s ridiculous contract at this time either. If Hemmer shoots out the lights in a 48 game season with out getting injured, then he could be traded and get a decent return.

    For me buyout candidates would be 1) Horcoff….and 2) Belanger

    …yes that would leave the Oilers extremely thin at centre. That is just an organizational weakness, and why I have been frustrated that the organization hasn’t seized the golden opportunity to give Hall an extended look at centre in OKC.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    How is Hemmer’s contract “ridiculous?” If it was a 4 year 20M deal, or 5 year 25M deal it would be ridiculous.

    The shorter the term the bigger the cap hit.

    5M for 60-70 points and the ability to have 3 lines that can actually score on a consistent basis, and for it only being for 2 years, seems pretty decent to me.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow


    You really want Oiler Fans to be envious of a Defence that has Gilbert as their #2.

    Been there, Done that. No Thanks.

    IMO Gilbert was the problem with our defence for half a decade-soft on the body and puck.

    I find your posts to be highly entertaining and humerous. Pick another defence, maybe one that has some depth like the Canucks to model.

    The Wilds Offence on the other hand, they have some big boys who like to hit, skill on wings and tons of Depth at Center.

    I hope Hartkainen develops and takes a big step forward this year, we could really use that.

    • DSF

      Like any defence, the Wilds is a work in progress.

      Scandella, for example, looks like a very good one.

      While I agree it’s not the best in the league, adding a big minute eating player like Suter is huge.

      The Oilers don’t have a guy anywhere near what Suter brings.