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Could The NHL Bring Back Compliance Buyouts?

What are the odds the NHL considers a compliance buyout for next season? If this COVID-19 delay lasts a long time, the NHL will need to come up with options.

The NHL will never admit this. They don’t like to talk about “what ifs”. But, there is some speculation the league might have to consider bringing back compliance buyouts if the delay in the NHL season is a long one, which it’s rumored to be.

With questions surrounding the salary cap and a longer delay likely to mean a drop in the projected cap ceiling available to teams, buzz in some circles, including from Brian Burke, is that one solution could be the “compliance buyout” the NHL used back in 2013 and 2014.

Essentially, the compliance buyouts worked the same way as traditional buyouts, with certain dollars having to be paid out to players over lengthier periods but the big difference was that the money paid didn’t count against the team’s respective salary caps. As such, back in 2013 and 2014, 18 teams took advantage of compliance buyout option and names like Christian Ehrhoff, Brad Richards, Ilya Bryzgalov, and Vincent Lecavalier were sent packing from their respective teams.

At that time, it was essentially a bail out for NHL GM’s who spent far too much money on long-term deals.

While this time around circumstances are quite different, Burke told Bob Stauffer while a guest on Oilers Now, “I’ve heard discussions about compliance buyouts.” He added:

“My response to that is, I want to know if there’s going to be an extension, that there’s not going to be a work stoppage in the next 8-10 years. I want to know that I’m going to come back, watch my beloved Oilers and then know there will be a work stoppage in the next 18 months.”

Obviously, the NHL will continue to look at options with the NHL salary cap, especially as this delay drags on. A compliance buyout will be just one option, but there’s bound to be far more to it than just saying, ‘Go ahead and buy these guys out, it won’t count.’

Related: Montreal Canadiens’ Henri Richard: A Tribute to the Pocket Rocket

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