Oilers GM Holland considering using buyout to free up cap space

Jul 6 2022, 10:53 pm

The Edmonton Oilers are tight to the cap with a lot of business to get done and General Manager Ken Holland said Wednesday that using a buyout to help find some relief isn’t out of the equation at this stage of the game. 

The NHL’s buyout period opened on July 1. 

“I’m considering it, but I’m hoping I’m not going to have to do that,” Holland told media in Montreal on Wednesday. 

The Oilers have just over $7 million in cap space this summer, according to CapFriendly.

It’s not a significant amount to spend with three key pending restricted free agents in Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, and Ryan McLeod to sign, in addition to having seven pending unrestricted free agents on the roster. 

Among them is coveted scorer Evander Kane and his tricky situation. Standing in the way is Kane’s expected ask, which could fall north of $7 million annually on a long-term pact. 

Kane is just one of several burning questions this offseason, which also includes a pile of uncertainty in net with Mikko Koskinen departing for Switzerland and the status of expected start Mike Smith up in the air. 

A buyout, or two, could go a long way to freeing up capital for Holland to help build out a roster that made it to the Western Conference Final before losing out to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche. 

Zack Kassian, who is owed $3.2 million per season with two years remaining, is among those speculated to be a buyout candidate. Kassian landed on NHL insider Frank Seravalli’s list of buyout candidates. 

A buyout of his final two years would drop Kassian’s cap hit to just $667,667 for the 2022-23 season, giving Edmonton a much-needed cap savings of $2,533,333. That cap hit would jump to $1,866,677 for 2023-24 — kicking the cap problem down the road a bit — before leveling off to $966,667 for the final two seasons of a buyout. In all, it’d be a four-year sacrifice.

Kassian had 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) in the regular season, and four points (two goals, two assists) while averaging 8:07 of ice time in 16 playoff games.

Warren Foegele, who had one assist in 13 playoff games, is owed $2.75 million per year before becoming an unrestricted free agent after the 2023-24 season and could be another option Edmonton entertains. His savings are marginal when considering a replacement. 

Tyson Barrie has two years remaining on a $4.5 million per season cap charge, too. His buyout could free up $3.125 million for the 2022-23 season, and $2.375 million in 2023-24 before two years at an expense of $1.375 million. 

Barrie, however, had a very productive 2021-22 season with 41 points (seven goals, 34 assists) in the regular season and five points (one goal, four assists) while averaging 18:18 of ice time in the playoffs. 

The Oilers are currently already eating buyout penalties on James Neal, a $1,916,667 mark through 2024-25, and Andrej Sekera, a $1.5 million charge that finishes after this season.

“The team we just had we can’t keep together because of the salary cap,” Holland said in his end-of-season address last month. “It’s the cap world. I’m going to try and make the team the best that I can.”

Aaron VickersAaron Vickers

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