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Early NHL Compliance Buyout Candidates

If the NHL permits compliance buyouts for next season, who are the most likely candidates among the players?

There’s no definitive confirmation the NHL is looking at compliance buyouts as an option to alleviate the financial burden teams are likely to feel next season, but that hasn’t stopped a number of insiders from thinking that’s one option. In fact, the idea seems to be gaining more steam.

If compliance buyouts become an option, there are some early candidates and NHL contracts that might considered buyout worthy. The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples took a look at a few players, categorizing them by forwards, defensemen and goaltenders:

The Forwards

At forward, he suggests candidates include Justin Abdelkader, Frans Nielsen, Andrew Ladd, Milan Lucic, Kyle Okposo, Loui Eriksson, Kyle Turris, Tyler Johnson, James Neal, and Jeff Skinner. A few of these contracts would be easy decisions by their respective organizations because they include dramatically overpaid players and getting out from under these contracts would be helpful, financial troubles related to the NHL pause or not.

In some cases, these players either aren’t seeing NHL duty on the regular, they were signed to huge deals and haven’t paid dividends based on projections, or these teams just need to free up space to make other moves.

The Defensemen

Among the defensemen Staples lists, candidates include Kris Russell, Karl Alzner, John Moore, Brent Seabrook, P.K. Subban and Justin Faulk. Some of these players may be more obvious than others, Faulk, for example, being a strong pickup by the Blues and questions in St. Louis surround the future of captain Alex Pietrangelo. It would be unwise for the Blues to lose both Faulk and Pietrangelo should the captain decide to test free agency.

Like the forwards, some of these defensemen rarely see NHL action but take up quite a chunk of their respective team’s salary cap.

The Goaltenders

Among the goaltender options, he lists Pekka Rinne, Henrik Lundqvist and Cory Schneider. For Rinne, he’s seen a bad season get worse, Schneider did not pan out as the Devils were hoping and Lundqvist is caught in the middle of a three-headed goalie situation in New York.

Staples adds, when talking about what teams will look at when making that decision:

That will come down to numerous factors, with perhaps the most important factor being the willingness and ability of a team owner to pay out a buyout, then replace that salary on the team. Given the financial hit folks are taking right now, some owners may not be willing to do so.

Related: Remembering Edmonton Oilers “The Moose” Messier: One of the NHL’s Greatest Leaders of All-Time

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