The NHL's compliance buyout period opened Monday, providing teams with a two-week window to rid themselves of onerous contracts.
Between Monday and June 30 at 5 p.m. ET, the 26 teams with at least one available buyout will comb over their respective rosters for potential salary cap relief. The Washington Capitals are one of those teams, but according to general manager Brian MacLellan, they do not intend on using their last remaining buyout.
"No I’m not," MacLellan said during a conference call Monday afternoon. "I'm not. I don’t think it would make sense for any of our players that we pursue that path."
Last summer, Washington bought out defenseman Jeff Schultz, who had one year remaining on a four-year, $11 million contract. Schultz spent the season playing for the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, but appeared in seven playoff games for the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
Among current Capitals, the most logical buyout candidate was forward Brooks Laich, who has three years remaining on a six-year, $27 million contract that absorbs $4.5 million in salary cap space annually. Laich's injury woes are well-documented; the 30-year-old has missed 70 regular-season games over the past two seasons as a result of a lingering groin injury that has required multiple surgical procedures.
MacLellan, however, sees value in Laich despite his recent ineffectiveness, even mentioning him as a candidate for second-line center next season if Washington does not re-sign pending unrestricted free agent Mikhail Grabovski.
"I think we need Brooks Laich,” MacLellan said last month. “When Brooks Laich is in our lineup the team plays better – a healthy Brooks Laich. A non-healthy Brooks Laich hurts our chances.”
The first buyout of the summer belonged to the Dallas Stars, who waived defenseman Aaron Rome with the intent to.release him from the final year of his three-year, $4.5 million contract.
As free agency approaches on July 1, MacLellan said that the Capitals would be open to pursuing unexpectedly available players much like they did last summer with Grabovski.
“We’ll look at it,” MacLellan said. "We did it last year with Grabovski. We’ll definitely keep aware of a good fit and who’s being bought out.”
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