Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers place Eric Gryba on unconditional waivers for purpose of a buyout

According to the Oilers official Twitter account, the team has placed veteran defenceman Eric Gryba on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract. Why? That’s a good question. 

After signing a two-year contract with the Oilers just last summer, Eric Gryba’s time with the team is over as they have placed him on unconditional waivers with the intention of buying him out. Over the course of three seasons, Gryba played in 114 regular season games played with the Oilers, scoring three goals and added 11 assists to go along with 171 penalty minutes. During the 2016-17 playoff run, Gryba played in only three of the team’s 13 playoff games and went scoreless in that time. So it’s not like they’re buying out an every day regular, but they are buying out a guy that was supposed to provide depth and toughness whenever he was inserted into the lineup.

When Gryba was brought in three years ago, he was expected to add reliable depth to a defensive unit that desperately needed steady defenders. He wasn’t a flashy guy and he wasn’t going to play every day, but he was still a player that could play reliable minutes when called upon while also stepping up for his teammates if needed. In 2016-17 Gryba played in 40 games for the Oilers, but that total was halved this year after he was assigned to Bakersfield midway through the season without ever returning to the big club. Considering that he signed a two-year contract just last summer, you do have to wonder why they’re choosing to get rid of him now, and why they felt that buying him out was the best option to do so.

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Personally, this is another one of those moves that the Oilers make that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Rather than buying Gryba out, they could have buried him and his $900K in Bakersfield without having any cap implications, but, instead, they chose to buy him out and have a $300K buyout penalty on the books for the next two years. I guess, I just don’t understand why they would want to save $300,000 that badly rather than just sending him to Bakersfield for one more season instead. Are they mad at him? Did he ask to be released from the organization? Do they really think Eric Gryba is going to steal that much ice time from young defenders? Is it just me?

It’s not that losing Eric Gryba is an overly huge deal, though he was a serviceable seventh defenceman that added some toughness into the lineup when he did play, but rather that this is just a strange cap play for a team that isn’t exactly hurting for cash (cap space yes, but dollars no). Do they really need to save that extra $300k? Then the other obvious question that comes to mind is: why sign him for two years in the first place? The only thing that really makes sense to me is that the Oilers are doing Gryba a favour by buying him out so that he can explore other options, because the savings here are negligible and they still have plenty of room on their 50-man list. Then again, what the hell do I know?

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What do you guys think?

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Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM +/- PGP G A Pts PIM
2015-16 Edmonton Oilers NHL 53 1 5 6 75
2016-17 Edmonton Oilers NHL 40 2 4 6 65 -5 3 4
2017-18 Edmonton Oilers NHL 21 2 2 31 4
2017-18 Bakersfield Condors AHL 24 27 -9
NHL Totals 279 7 36 43 358 13 35

Source: Edmonton Oilers, Official Twitter Account, 6/21/2018 – 9:05 am MST

  • belair

    I guess he was blocking guys in the AHL. Might’ve been a favor to the guy as well, since he’s not going to get a chance to play in Edmonton next year. Ultimately though, it frees up a contract spot. Nothing move.

    • Spydyr

      Then tell your AHL coach to play him third pairing or even sit him.. Another puzzling move by the Oilers. A few hundred grand here a few hundred grand here. It is like death by a thousand cuts.

    • crabman


      They could have loaned him to another AHL franchise like they did with Fayne last year. They could have had him in the pressbox all season in the AHL or even told him to go home, train and collect your cheques but we will not be needing your services this year. This is truly a weird situation. Add $300K to the cap this year and next to save $300K on a contract that could have been buried at no cap penalty and off the books next season just to do a favor for a player. That doesn’t sound like the Oilers at all.

  • Mr.Snrub

    What a completely unnecessary move, but i guess the Red Winers don’t want any D-Men from Bakersfield to be an emergency fill-in aside from Keegan Lowe.

  • ubermiguel

    Perhaps he has a deal in Europe lined up and wanted to get released. I know if I was an aging tweener I’d want to play a few years overseas to get more ice time and to see the world.

      • crabman

        He could be loaned to a Europe team rather than be bought out. And leaving him in the AHL would have no cap penalty but the buy out adds $300K to the cap this year and next. neither scenarios account for this move.

    • bleedingcoppernblue

      What was it Chia said about last season? Death by a thousand paper cuts? That is indeed what he is responsible for doing to this team. It isn’t going to change until the head is cut off the snake.

    • crabman

      I know this is a joke but this moved didn’t add cap space. It added 300K to the cap this year and next. If Gryba was left to play in Bakersfield he would cost Katz 900K real money but nothing against the cap

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    Most likely a favour to the player move. Gryba just posted on insta thanking the org and city. Class act. Grilling with Gryba.

  • ponokanocker

    I’m getting the feeling with these silly buyouts(Pouliot before) that Katz doesn’t want to pay to the cap, and has excuses because of these buyouts.

  • toprightcorner

    Gryba won’t work within the system they will be playing in the AHL, all he does is block a spot for a prospect. It also opens up a contract spot if Chiarelli plans to sign some college free agents or add more prospects to the system.

    • crabman

      They could just have him in the pressbox in the AHL then and have no NHL cap repercussions. and by removing Gryba from the 50 man roster brings the team down to 39 with Nurse and Strome left to sign. Unless the plan is to sign or trade for 9 NHL and AHL players the team didn’t need the roster spot. There is no rational reason to do this except doing the player a favor. And that favor costs the team 300K in cap space the next 2 years, that is not an Oiler type of move to help out a player

  • Big Nuggets

    It does seem like a needless buyout, unless they really plan to fill up that 50 man roster. Gryba was passed by Bear on the depth chart last season so perhaps they don’t believe he can compete anymore. I would rather Bear play the year in Bakersfield so I hope they add someone of decent quality for a 7th defenseman.

  • crabman

    I was listening to the lowdown when I heard about the buyout and was confused why they would do it. Then Lowtide mentioned that all the coaches let go thos offseason all had expiring contracts so the team wouldn’t be on the hook for any salary and the team also trimmed back office personnel this past year. Add that to a team buying out a player to save the owner a mere 300K and an ice district project scalled way back looks like the signs of an owner having money issues. I don’t see how this could be possible with the Oilers selling out, the Sportsnet TV deal and all the local sponsors but it seems really odd. If we see the #10 packaged with Lucic as a purely salary dump I’m gonna start to worry. I know I should take off my tinfoil hat.
    Chiarelli framed it like the team was doing Gryba a favor buying him out of his contract to leave him free to explore other hockey options. That seems like an awfully player friendly move by a team that doesn’t have that reputation but I’ll take his word for it until proven different.

  • Leaking5w-30

    I’m becoming increasingly convinced that our management team makes moves just to troll the fans. Chi and Lowe probably have a bet going about how many posts they’ll get before someone says “wow he just lost a trade with himself”

  • CMG30

    I’d wager that the thinking was that they didn’t want him sucking up minutes that could be better spent on a prospects development. If true, it’s somewhat sound reasoning. Would have been better not to sign him for two years in the first place, but that’s a different argument. Gryba may have preferred this as well. If so, always a good idea to part on good terms. Still, poor cap management…

  • Jack Dupp

    Seems to me there were several reasons to buy him out, (minimal real $$ savings, free up a spot on the 50 man, give a younger & cheaper player an opportunity and lets Gryba explore his options), vs only 1 reason to keep him, (minimal cap space savings). My math says it’s a good call.

  • Bills Bills

    Funny when I made the comment that Gryba should not have been signed for anything more than league minimum on a 1 year deal because he was at best the number 7 guy, I was absolutely attacked as a fool who nothing about hockey. Anyone want to step forward that thought this was a good signing at the time?

    • crabman

      I was fine with it at the time. I would have prefered 1 year but at 900K there was no risk in salary as the entire thing could be buried in the AHL with no cap penalty. And there was plenty of room on the 50 man roster at the time of signing. The only reason it has become an issue now is that Chiarelli decided to buy him out adding 300K to the cap this year and next instead of just leaving him in the AHL for 1 more year and not effecting the cap at all. I don’t see this situation as a problem because of the signing. The problem is needlessly buying him out.