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Photo Credit: Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports

Should the Edmonton Oilers buy-out Mark Fayne or Benoit Pouliot?

It is buy-out time in the NHL. For a brief window between the middle and end of June, teams have the option to buyout unwanted contracts, in most cases giving the player two-thirds of his remaining salary over twice his remaining term. In most cases, such a decision clears significant money from the books, and in a few instances it is going to allow teams more protection flexibility heading into the expansion draft.

For the Edmonton Oilers, there are two obvious buyout candidates: Benoit Pouliot and Mark Fayne. Both were signed by the previous administration, have fallen out of favour with Peter Chiarelli/Todd McLellan, and both are significantly overpaid relative to their current roles with the team.

In both cases, Edmonton is probably best-served by avoiding buyouts. The reason is Connor McDavid.

This summer is going to be somewhat difficult for Edmonton financially, thanks primarily to the expiration of Leon Draisaitl’s entry-level deal. But it’s next summer when Chiarelli will really need to juggle. Not only will Draisaitl have a new deal, but McDavid will be on what is sure to be an extremely lucrative second contract. As a bonus, the Oilers have a lot of other deals that expire at the same time, with Darnell Nurse and Patrick Maroon probably the most notable in the non-McDavid tier.

Let’s start by looking at Fayne. As it stands now, his contract has one season left at a rather hefty $3.5 million cap hit, but is off the books in the summer of 2018. Using Article 50.5 (d) of the CBA to calculate the changes, here’s what it looks like if Edmonton buys him out:

  • 2017-18: $1.29 million cap hit
  • 2018-19: $1.17 million cap hit

Basically, the Oilers would save a little over $2.0 million this coming season, but defer more than $1.0 million to 2018-19, which is shaping up as the most difficult year that Edmonton has ever had from a cap perspective. It’s almost certainly better to eat the higher dollar figure now than it will be to try and find that money while also paying McDavid.

Next, Pouliot. As things stand now, he has a $4.0 million cap hit and actual salary over each of the next two seasons. If the Oilers buy him out this summer, this is what happens:

  • 2017-18: $1.33 million cap hit
  • 2018-19: $1.33 million cap hit
  • 2019-20: $1.33 million cap hit
  • 2020-21: $1.33 million cap hit

That kind of cap penalty isn’t insurmountable, but it isn’t pleasant, either. More importantly, there are two other options.

The first would be to wait to buyout Pouliot until the summer of 2018, at which point the Oilers would only be dealing with a $1.33 million cap hit for the first two rather than the first three years of McDavid’s new deal.

The second and better option would be a retained salary trade. If Edmonton retains 50 percent of Pouliot’s contract, he’ll have a highly digestible (both for the Oilers and for the team that acquires him) cap hit of $2.0 million for each of the next two seasons. That should be a tradeable contract; after all, we’re talking about a 30-year-old who can kill penalties and had 36 points in 55 games just one season ago. With a mild sweetener, there’s no reason a building or rebuilding team (Vegas, Colorado, etc.) should be unwilling to take on such a short-term commitment to a player that might bounce back and who would then have actual value.

In a pinch, buyouts would be real possibilities for both players. Edmonton isn’t in a pinch yet, but will be soon, so it makes sense to digest as much of the pain sooner rather than later.

By hanging on to Fayne and retaining salary in a Pouliot trade, the Oilers can have all but $2.0 million off the books by the end of McDavid’s entry level deal, and even that $2.0 million headache will only last for a single season, rather than three. Buying out both right now, on the other hand, would leave nearly $5.2 million on the books for when the Oilers to juggle as they try and squeeze McDavid’s new contract under the salary cap.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      not a fan of 4×4 for Russell but he was a part of the Oilers first 100+ point season in forever and unlike Florida, who traded Gudbranson, Kulikov and didn’t re-sign Campbell and went downhill this season, i’d actually like to see the Oilers stay with our top 7 that we won with this year, give or take a Hamonic or Barrie of course. 😉

  • Craig1981

    Pouliot’s entire career is one of ups and downs. He might very well return to the form of his previous two seasons and either we worth his contract or have a tradable one.

    The only way Fayne gets bought out is if Katz wants to save himself $1.33 Million of actual cash…..which could be tempting

  • 24% body fat

    I would still place them both on waivers, if they get picked up ok.

    If not, how long do they have that they have cleared waivers? I think some team might be will to take a risk on one of them in a trade after that knowing the can send them down with out losing them or they could waive them again. The options are there. Like give up a 7th for a flyer on one of them.

  • Spydyr

    Buying out Fayne and extending him on the payroll beyond this season would be asinine. Trying to find a sucker to take Pouliot even with some retained salary would be nice.

  • fisherprice

    Neither. They should just ride out Fayne’s contract since there isn’t a cap crunch until the following season. I’m sure the Oilers could find a taker on Pouliot if they gave him away and ate some salary, which seems preferable to having him on the books for the next 4 seasons.

  • madjam

    With only one and two years left on their contracts try to trade them even if some salary retained , or just eat those contracts for next year or two . Perhaps some savings can come by putting them in the minors . Every club has poor contracts , but at least these are not long in nature for most underachieving Oiler players . Suppose it depends on how you view underperforming versus contract . Leon and Connor’s contracts could be scary if they fail to live up to expectations .

  • Tombstone

    Oilers will only be able to buy out 1 contract this year but I say buy-out. There is no point paying a garbage player like Fayne $3.6mil to play in the minors. If Oilers are paying Fayne $3.6mil/yr to play in the minors then Russel should be worth $12mil/yr.
    If Las Vegas doesn’t draft Pouloit then give him another year. By then Lauri’s buy-out will be over allowing the team to buy-out Pouliot or trade him and retain some salary.

  • TKB2677

    Buying out Fayne with 1 yr left on his deal doesn’t make any sense. You let him come in and compete knowing chances are he doesn’t make the team. So you waive him and play him in the minors again. With Sekera down, they need to have more depth. If someone claims him on waivers, great. If not, then he continues to mentor young dmen. Maybe because he is in the last year of his deal, someone might give the Oilers something during the year or at the deadline. I think he can be a 6-7 dman on some teams in the NHL, it’s just his contract.

        • Tombstone

          What are you talking about ?
          Fayne is making $3.6 million/yr to play in the minors. He was called up twice where he was injured within the first 2 minutes of ice time and wasn’t called up until the playoffs. You want to talk about mentoring younger players. Hello, Fayne was sent down to the minors because he wasn’t good enough and ask Reinhardt how well his mentoring is doing for him. In all fairness most of you people know absolutely nothing. Take a look around you. No other team want Fayne and at $3.6 million to play in the minors it sends the wrong message that the Oilers still have terrible management.

  • Oilerchild77

    Buying out either player is unnecessary. If they buy out Pouliot, they will have to carry his cap hit for 4 more years. With Fayne, it’s 2 more. And the cap hits won’t be small either. Take into account the upcoming McDavid deal and it makes even less sense. After this year, Fayne is completely off the books, and there will be only one more year on Poulot’s contract, which will make him much easier to move. There’s no sense in carrying any extra cap if you don’t have to and they really don’t.

  • Anton CP

    0 reason to buy out Fayne since he is on the last year of the term.

    Pouliot is a little tougher since he still carries an extra year which will be the crucial cap stretch year. If the Oilers cannot find the buyer for Pouliot then they may as well buy him out even it means extra year on cap hit that he will carry the cap hit to 2020. It will have some effects to renegotiate Talbot’s contract but that will be the only big contract which the Oilers has to be worried about. However that the best way to deal the situation with Pouliot is actually wait until next year to see if the Oilers will need some extra cap room for the next season.

    No rush decision on both contracts.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    Clearly, nobody wanted Pou. Even at half his salary.
    At $2M for 2 more years, I think he’s absolutely worth it. Unfortunately for us, no other GMs feel/felt this way.