News is going around Twitter that the Arizona Coyotes have placed center Antoine Vermette on unconditional waivers for the purposes of buying out his contract. He’s owed $3.75 million this season in actual salary which is the same as his salary cap hit. Buying him out will save them $1.25 million overall, and $2.5 million from their internal salary budget while shifting $1.25 million to next season.
On the surface, the deal doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Before buying out Vermette, the Coyotes are around $6.2 million under the cap according to GeneralFanager.com. However, that also includes nearly $12.5 million in dead salary from Pavel Datsyuk, who is retiring from the NHL to play in the KHL, and Chris Pronger who is effectively retired due to concussion issues. Their actual salary commitment is already nearly $8 million less than their salary cap charge.
But one way of looking at the buyout is that perhaps it means they are making space for a trade to bring in Valtteri Filppula from Tampa Bay. Filppula is owed a total of $10 million in salary the next two seasons to go with his $5 million salary cap charge. The Lightning are in a salary cap squeeze and could use the space that moving Filppula’s contract would free up. Even retaining half of his salary would be workable for Steve Yzerman and the Lightning.
Putting those pieces together, it would make sense that if the Lightning retained the $2.5 million of salary of the next two seasons, adding him this season coupled with the buyout of Vermette would effectively create a net neutral change in Arizona’s salary commitments. The only thing is that it’s adding a commitment of $3.75 million to next year’s budget as well.
The odd part is why would Arizona make this move before completing a deal with the Lightning? And perhaps that is the piece of the puzzle that means that this isn’t really a move to make room for Filppula and there is something else going on with Arizona. Or being a budget team, they are simply trying to save a little bit of cash. On the other hand, if you want to go off the deep end, perhaps it’s preparatory to extending an offer sheet.