Don’t expect the Calgary Flames to utilize the first buyout window

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
1 year ago
Every year, July 1 signifies Canada Day and Jarome Iginla’s birthday – it’s nice that we get the day off work to commemorate both events. But this year, July 1 is the beginning of the first buyout window in the National Hockey League’s off-season calendar.
Don’t expect the Calgary Flames to utilize this buyout window.

Buyout history

The Flames won’t avoid the buyout window due to any hesitance to spend money. Sure, under general manager Brad Treliving they’ve had just a single trade where they’ve retained salary – that was David Rittich to Toronto at the 2021 trade deadline. But they’ve paid six players to play elsewhere under his regime via buyouts.
The bought out bunch includes:
  • Shane O’Brien
  • Mason Raymond
  • Ryan Murphy
  • Lance Bouma
  • Troy Brouwer
  • Michael Stone
(Of note: both Brouwer and Stone were bought out in the second buyout window, which opens up if a team has arbitration cases. The idea is that if a deal related to an arbitration case creates cap issues, a team can buy out a player to get out of a cap jam.)
There are two players we’ve heard suggested to buy out: Milan Lucic and Sean Monahan. Both don’t seem like great options, but for different reasons.

Why not buy out Milan Lucic?

Lucic isn’t a great buyout option because of how his contract is structured. Under the CBA, only salary can be bought out, not signing bonuses, and a player’s cap hit is only reduced by how much their salary is reduced in the buyout years.
For Lucic, he has a $5.25 million cap hit for the Flames, but for 2022-23 he has just $1 million of salary. Buying it out would pay him two-thirds of his salary ($666,666) over two years (one third, or $333,333, each year). That reduces his salary and his cap hit in 2022-23 by just $666,666, with the Flames seeing his cap drop by $583,333 to $4.667 million (with the remaining reduction seen by Edmonton due to them retaining some of his salary in the initial trade).
A league-minimum salary replacement for Lucic would cost $750,000, so there’s simply no point in buying out Lucic since the cost savings wouldn’t cover a replacement player. Buying him out would actually increase the cost of his roster spot due to the replacement cost.

Why not Sean Monahan?

The good news is that Monahan’s deal is structured better than Lucic’s, with Monahan due $6 million in salary in 2022-23. Buying him out would reduce his cap hit by $4 million – to $2.375 million – and really help the Flames out of a jam.
But Monahan is recovering from hip surgery that he underwent in April. Under the terms of the CBA, players who are unfit to play cannot be bought out – Toronto bought out Jared Cowen back in 2016 and it became a whole controversy because Cowen argued that he was unfit to play and couldn’t be bought out. Cowen lost his appeal, but the whole ordeal established that unless an injured player explicitly gives the team permission to do so, he cannot be bought out.


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