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Oilers to buy out Benoit Pouliot

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. 

The Oilers’ cap situation with Pouliot bought out can be viewed at NHLNumbers. 

    • Jammin

      This was my thought too. If Pete waited until next year, the buyout would be for 2 years, and not 4. Gotta think he’s using the cap space this year or he would’ve waited. We have the enough cap space for Drai this year, even if we overpay as some are suggesting…

    • Can't Fix Stupid

      That cap hit for the next 4 years though may burn the Oilers. I think it would have been better to keep him for the 2017-18 year, see where his stock goes, try to trade him at the deadline for picks or buy him out during the 2018-19 season so his cap hit only affects the team for 2 years instead. The team got lucky last year with the injuries being manageable but we still don’t have the proven depth.

      • Dr

        Those of us that watched the team all year would not take him on our team. Vegas wouldn’t even pick him for free. Why would other GMs trade for him?
        Plus, $1.333 million is 1.8% of the cap. How is that going to burn the Oilers?
        I’m sure the cap will go up in one of the last two years of the buyout penalty.

    • Rock11

      How are you gonna feel about it 2 years when the corpse of Benoit Pouliot is still costing this team 1.3m on the cap to sit at the lake and have a wobbly pop.

      • Mitch92

        It’s just the cost of building a decent team during the CMD window. I will have no issues at all when the Oil is drinking champagne and Pouliot is enjoying another Keystone light on the ninth tee.

    • I have a feeling that Marleau is coming to Edmonton… I also have a feeling that RNH is going somewhere else in exchange for a RD. About half of my feelings actually happen. It looks like the Oilers are preparing for a cup run this coming season before McDavid’s contract kicks in.

      • Randaman

        Actually, I heard Brian Boyle was coming in to meet with the Oilers. I also heard Marleau is being courted by both Edmonton and Calgary and to complete the trifecta I heard Nuge to Montreal for Gallagher! I am on board for all those

    • bazmagoo

      I remember the Lowe-MacT braintrust being on record stating they didn’t want to front or back load contracts because they didn’t think it was right to manipulate the cap rules. Complete and utter incompetence. MacT said it was the 5th year of the contract that sealed the Pouliot deal, he should have used that leverage to negotiate a front loaded contract.

      • Bagged Almond Milk

        Lol, that’s bad…. It’s tempting to let them off a hook in some ways as no free agents wanted to sign here so they had to overpay, but then I remember that they’re probably a big reason that no FA’s wanted to come here in the first place. (Thinking of Smytty, Souray, Belanger etc…) Lot’s of issues with management…. Lowe must have been tough to deal with at times?

        • Bagged Almond Milk

          I agree…. They actually didn’t get nearly enough Flak for this signing from the Beginning…. Sure he was a Veteran NHL player at a dark time in the Organization…. but I think everyone could see from the beginning that 20 million over 5 years would eventually become a problem for this team. Ughh. O well, another passenger gone, and I’m liking the team more and more as the off season progresses…. I honestly am starting to wonder if Nuge’s days are numbered and will be moved for a winger or D man, and replaced with someone who fit’s the bill better as a 3rd line C, like Boyle…. O well, Nuge is a good player, but I’d be happy with a replacement for him too, so it’s a good problem to have

  • Tim in Kelowna

    I’m a fan of this move. I know he’s a darling of the analytics community, but he doesn’t use his considerable frame enough for my liking and one of his famous untimely offensive zone penalties could have cost us a playoff game.

    • Bagged Almond Milk

      Good point, but I guess not, as I’m sure Chia tried…. O well, I find myself liking this team moar and moar as many of the players brought in by the Old regime are let go (Obviously there was some good ones and I want them to stay). It’s kinda head scratching, but I like it…. this probably means that Chia has a gentlemans agreement with a FA, and needs to make space. Can’t wait to hear who it is. Knock my socks off Chia. Marleau?

    • the reasonable person

      So much this. Good riddance, I don’t care at all about the minor cap implications, and sounds like the savings will be used on someone more helpful.

  • Bagged Almond Milk

    If only he wouldn’t have played that one game at the trade deadline and been injured…. Where he was rumoured to be dealt along with Yak for Vatanen…. Imagine the impacts of that one decision. Chia continues to cleanse the bad of the DOD…. I like Chia a lot, but one does have to worry that he’s borderline reckless… O well, Trade the mall.

  • the reasonable person

    Love the message this and the other moves have sent loud and clear… If you’re not helping Connor’s team win, you’re gone without question. I like Nuge, but hopefully he’s absorbs this message and will have career years in his remaining time here. Must be tough on the ‘lil guy seeing all his buddies get shipped out of town at first opportunity.

  • TKB2677

    People need to remember that someone has to actually WANT Pouliot to even take him if the Oilers retained. I thought the only chance the Oilers had of getting rid of the contract was for Vegas to take it but it probably would have cost the Oilers their first. Sorry, WAY too much to pay.

    In my opinion, a good indicator of what Pouliot is worth around the league will be what he signs for. I think he signs a 1 yr deal in the range of 1-1.5 mill. Sorry but retaining 2.5 – 3 mill AND having to give up an additional asset to get the team to take him is nuts.