Benoit Pouliot is on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 29, 2017
According to multiple sources, the Edmonton Oilers have placed Benoit Pouliot on waivers with the purpose of buying him out.
He’s signed for two more years at a cap hit of $4 million, but a buyout would eliminate his contract and cost the Oilers $1,333,333 against the cap for four years. That’s ultimately a savings of $2,666,667 for the next two seasons, but an additional cost of $1,333,333 for the two seasons after that.
Pouliot had been a mixed bag with the Oilers since signing that five-year, $20 million deal back in the Craig MacTavish era. Over his first two seasons with the club, Pouliot produced at a level you’d expect him to. His 0.65 and 0.59 points-per-game figures in 2015-16 and 2014-15 respectively are the two best of his career, but injuries shortened both of those seasons to under 60 games.
Last season was a disaster for Pouliot. He played in 67 games, recording only eight goals and six assists, a career-low 0.21 points-per-game. Of course, injuries played a part in that decline, but Pouliot’s frequent uninspired play and frustrating offensive zone penalties earned him a spot in Todd McLellan’s doghouse.
The timing of this buyout is somewhat curious. As we’ve discussed many times since the end of the playoffs, the Oilers aren’t really in a cap bind until Connor McDavid’s extension begins in 2018-19. Apparently that’s going to cost the team in the ballpark of $13 million annually. Had the Oilers waited and executed this buyout in July 2018, they would only be on the hook for a penalty of $1,333,333 for two seasons. Obviously Pouliot isn’t a top-six player worth $4 million, but he’s still an adequate NHL depth player.
The Oilers easily could have fit Leon Draisaitl’s new contract — even at the ridiculous $9 million cap hit that’s been thrown around — into their cap picture with Pouliot at $4 million on the roster. With that in mind, you have to wonder if they’re looking to free up cap room to make an addition on July 1, though multiple sources around the team have suggested the roster is set.