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. 

    • 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

  • 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.

  • DarknessMyOldFriend

    This seems incredibly dumb. Lost a good (and overpaid) player for nothing. We save cap space for two years, one of which is pre-McDavid increase, and then get hit with a cap penalty for two years after. I’m hoping this means we are making room for a free agent splash, as our team is getting worse and worse compared to last year. However, I suspect this means Draisatl is getting a massive overpay.

    • Rock11

      Totally agree. I get that the extensions for 97 and 29 were high priority but this is team that has gotten progressively worse with each passing day. I am beginning to get nervous about making the playoffs next year. Some significant steps forward by existing Oilers will be required just to maintain their place. Meanwhile in the western conference: Dallas has a Goalie(and Methot), Cgy has a Goalie and an improved D, Arizona made some big improvements, Colorado cant possibly repeat a year like they just had, LA will have Quick for a full year(and Kopitar cant be that bad again right?). All of those teams will have more points than last year and I’m afeared that some of them will be coming from Edmonton.

      • MrBung

        Agreed. This team has not improved roster wise … unless they believe there is addition by subtraction going on here.

        This team has got worse on paper. And the Flames have got better.

        • Dr

          Please explain how the Oilers are a concern. They had 103 points last year, despite RNH, Eberle, and Pouliot having bad years. How good would they have been if those players had been productive?
          As for Calgary, they had a ten game winning streak (12% of the season). They beat 7 non-playoff teams during that stretch. In fact, they beat only 4 playoff teams in regulation time between December 5 and the end of the season. If they had gone 5 and 5 in that stretch, Winnipeg would’ve had their playoff spot.
          During the other 88% of the season, they were only slightly above 500, which is not an accomplishment in the Bettman point era. I think of them as a paper tiger.
          But, people are already penciling them in as contenders, and I wonder how a 35 year old goalie and a second pairing d-man can improve them so dramatically.
          Take a deep breath Oiler fans. The team has jettisoned some deadwood, and is keeping the players that helped them amass 103 points.

          • Rock11

            I’m not saying any of the teams I mentioned are contenders. Consider this though, the Flames also lost how many games early with bantam level goaltending performances. I don’t think they are cup contenders but could see them adding 5 or 6 points to their total. Same with LA. Dallas should have solved their goaltending and did win the conference the year before so lets say they add 10 points or so. Arizona added a good veteran D and a good C to go with their kids which could be worth 8 or 10 points. And Colorado just had the worst year ever in the cap era which seems impossible to repeat. These are zero sum games we are talking about, bettman point aside, and those points have to come from somewhere. The East? San Jose?

      • DarknessMyOldFriend

        In 2015-2016, he got 36 pts in 55 games, 0.65pt/game. That put him 5th on the team in both categories behind McDavid, Hall, Draisatl and Eberle. That’s good.

        • Nanook

          but not good enough. Even if last year was just a “bad Year” we have younger cheaper players that can fill that roll on the 3rd/4th line better, with more discipline. No room for a 4 mill per year 3rd/4th line winger. Even if Chia doesn’t bring anyone in to fill the spot its a great spot for some of our kids that need ice time to learn in a nice sheltered spot. I like the move

          • DarknessMyOldFriend

            My bigger issue with this is the 2 year cap hit during McDavid-Draisaitl cap hell after this salary would have already expired. Unless we aren’t using the freed up cap space this year for a run at the cup, I don’t understand the timing. I guess we wait and see come July 1st.

        • the reasonable person

          Games in 2014/15 and 2015/16 were an absolute joke against hungover other teams, teams not caring for half the game, and against backup goalies. I think lots of guys got opportunistic points that way.

    • FISTO Siltanen


      Went to the Habs game in March. Walked in with my brother-in-law and told him I liked our playoff chances provided we could sort our PK. Shortly afterwards Pouliot returned to the lineup and the PK morphed into a solid top unit. I don’t think that was a fluke.

      One more year. If he sucks you have cap savings for one year and dead money for a second. If he’s any good you can trade him retaining somewhere around half to a third of his deal for that last year.

      Bad signing in the first place. Bad reaction today IMO.

    • 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.

    • 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…

  • 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.

      • Clayton

        Good call…word is the Preds and Sharks are preparing a $9.8M offer sheet. Both have capspace and Sharks have a history of offersheets (see. Hjalmarsson). This is just below the 4 first round pick threshold so the Oil would either have to match or would only get 2-Firsts, 1-Second, 1-Third picks!

  • Bagged Almond Milk

    To me, this means that Chia wants/expects to win it all now, and no longer wait for passengers contracts to run out, so I’m ok with this…. 4 years cap hit sucks, but it is what it is…. I’m tired of waiting for next year

  • Bagged Almond Milk

    Chia is a genious with stones of steal, mixed with a borderline wreckless crazy person…. He continues to do what needs to be done, and for that, praise be to him. Nice to have a GM who actually does things for a change. I predict he wins a Cup with the Oil, and 2 years later sails on his merry way to let the next GM deal with the cap mess he’s created….

  • Big Nuggets

    dammit, I hate buyouts. four years paying over a million bucks for nothin. I wouldnt do this if I were in Chia’s shoes. let him try to bounce back next season. the closer his contract is to ending the easier it will be to trade him.
    I have to assume Chia has a plan to use tha cap space otherwise its a dumb move.

  • 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.

        • 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

    • 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?

  • Ever the Optimist

    maybe enough money in the kitty to get 2 fa and solidify the roster …… hanzal and marleau anyone?
    Marleau on a 1 year deal and Hanzal on a front loaded (as much as current cba allows) deal would make the oilers a deep team at forward and allow prospects to develop instead of pulj slotting in for 2rw.

  • btrain

    I don’t want to be overly critical but this would be another questionable move by Chia and the management group. I just can’t see how you couldn’t move Pouliot if you retained some salary. At 2.75 mill he would be a reasonably priced depth guy who can play important minutes for a contending team. This would be a Lazy and Desperate move at this point in the summer, when you have plenty of time to explore all other options first. Have to think its another effort to protect against an offer sheet for Drai because it makes no sense otherwise.

      • btrain

        As far as I understand it, the point of a retained salary deal is for cap relief. Trading team just cannot retain more than 50% of salary/cap hit. Hypothetically speaking the Oil could have retained up to 2mill to offload Pouliot. In that scenario both teams have a 2mill cap hit. However when the contract expires so does the cap hit with a retained deal where as the buyout will now cost the Oil for 4 years.

        I still find it hard to believe there are no teams willing to take Pouliot for even 2.5 mill.

    • Double Dees

      It makes no sense to u because u r not a competent NHL gm who knows what they’re doing.

      No team wanted to eat the ACTUAL cap hit of 4 mil regardless of the oil potentially taking some salary.

    • Dr

      Now that they save over $2 million because of the buyout, could they find someone to take a defensive prospect, such as Caleb Jones, a draft pick, and Mark Fayne ($3.625 M AAV) and trade for an established d-man? Would a bottom feeder like the Avs give up Barrie for that? They are in total rebuild after all, and I wonder if a player like Barrie would want to be patient through their decade of darkness.

  • Tombstone

    McDavid’s and Draisaitl’s agents- ” You’re paying a player $4mil/year to sit in the press box, play on the 4th line and who only put up 14 points last year it only makes sense you give our clients $13mil and $10mil.”
    I am so happy

  • themightypeace

    Everyone thought McDavid would go for a 5 year contract … but surprise! he is going for 8. In order to get McDavid to do this, I suspect the Oilers had to offer up a raise for the final year of his current contract – the 2017-2018 season. They currently have $15M in cap space and a $9M Draisitl and a $13M McDavid or even a $7M McDavid for 2017/18 don’t add up to $15M. They need every penny than can get.

  • madjam

    With Pouliot gone , that still leaves on LW – Maroon . Lucic , Cagguila , Slepyshev , Khaira and Benson to fill out roster . Will Oilers still keep Fayne seeing as Sekara will be out a good portion of season ?

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      They keep him, but only because the Condors could use veteran. Bear, Jones, Paigin and Mantha are all AHL rookies. I would argue that Simpson will be their first call up unless of course this Pouliot thing is to free up cap space for a 1 year deal on a vet for Sekera.

  • bwar

    Timing makes me a bit nervous. Did they have to buy him out to make room for contracts this season? Maybe they have a deal worked out with a UFA on a big one year contract.