A compliance buyout story with a dash of Lecavalier intrigue
Were the Lightning and Maple Leafs putting together a deal that would have allowed Tampa Bay to not only avoid buying out Vinny Lecavalier but to ultimately keep its captain on the roster at a reduced salary and cap hit?
That is what the New York Post postulated on Wednesday. Though the story is without a source and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an e-mail to the Tampa Bay Times that "no Lecavalier hypothetical has been brought to our attention," something prompted the league to send a memo to its general managers that such a scenario would be deemed a circumvention of the collective bargaining agreement and any resulting contracts would not be registered.
According to the Post, here is how the deal would have worked:
The Lightning, theoretically, would have sent Lecavalier and a prospect to the rolling-in-dough Maple Leafs who would then use an amnesty buyout on Lecavalier, making him a free agent. Tampa Bay would then re-sign Lecavalier to a more affordable contract. The Lightning gets to keep Lecavalier, saves a ton of money and the Maple Leafs get a prospect.
The league, though, apparently views such a scenario, no matter the teams or players involved, as a circumvention of its long-standing prohibition against renegotiating contracts.
The Lightning is considering using an amnesty buyout on Lecavalier's contract that has seven years, $45 million remaining with a $7.727 million salary cap hit. The contract also could subject the team to salary cap recapture penalties if Lecavalier retires before the deal expires.
With more than $60 million in salary cap commitments and perhaps five roster spots to fill, the Lightning could use some cap relief. Using an amnesty buyout on Lecavalier's contract would provide that as the buyout would not count against the cap. But buying out Lecavalier -- at two-thirds his remaining salary paid over double the years left on his contract -- would cost $30 million over 14 seasons.
Buyouts, available this year until 5 p.m. July 4, are there to help teams manage a salary cap that next season will be $64.3 million, down from last season's $70.2 million.