The 2020-21 NHL season´s financial outlook is a mystery as of now. The salary cap of $81.5 million will almost surely not increase. While the current salary cap may remain flat, there is a slight chance of the salary cap decreasing. That sounds scary for many NHL teams, the Boston Bruins are no exception.
However, there might be a welcomed relief coming handy for many cap-strapped NHL teams, no exception for the Bruins. The Bruins should have approximately $20 million in the salary cap space for the next season if the salary cap remains flat at $81.5 million.
The Bruins would have all that room to re-sign free agents like Torey Krug, Jaroslav Halak, Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk, Zdeno Chara, Joakim Nordstrom, Kevan Miller, Anders Bjork or Zach Senyshyn. One would suppose $20 million will simply not be enough, and the Bruins would have some difficult decisions on the horizon.
Nevertheless, there have been some rumors of the NHL easing the path for its teams. The NHL may implement the feature of compliance buyout or amnesty buyout, where teams can erase a selected worrisome contract with no penalty. Last and only time this happened, the NHL enabled this tool after a lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. For the 2013 and 2014 offseasons, every team had a chance to buy out up to two bad contracts.
The Bruins chose not to buy out any contract. The teams still had to pay some part of the salary to the player(s), but it didn’t count against their cap.
Similarly, we might see something familiar happening in the upcoming months. How can the Bruins benefit from it? Actually, a lot. The top compliance buyout candidate for the Bruins would certainly be John Moore. The veteran defenseman came to Boston in 2018 on a five-year deal, proceeding from New Jersey.
Moore’s performance wasn’t the worst. However, often, he ended up being a healthy scratch. With three more seasons on at $2.75 million average annual value, the Bruins can likely use that money elsewhere. If the Bruins were to re-sign Chara, Krug, and Grzelcyk, they have a handful of the left-shot defensemen even without Moore.
The second option might be a more radical one but would save a ton of salary-cap space. The Bruins signed Charlie Coyle to a six-year contract extension worth $5.25 million per season, and he’s going to be this guy’s replacement.
David Krejci‘s formerly seven-year contract concludes in 2021 with the cap hit of $7.25 million. It would be tough to part ways with one of these centers, but the Bruins would save a bunch of money. Nonetheless, that’s highly unlikely to occur.
The Bruins might receive a helping hand from the Anaheim Ducks. After the Bruins struck two significant trades with the Ducks ahead of the past NHL Trade Deadline, landing Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie, the Ducks might help the Bruins, again. Boston retained 25 percent of David Backes‘ salary, which translates to a salary-cap hit of $1.5 million for the 2020-21 season. If the Ducks were to use a compliance buyout on Backes, the Bruins would erase their part, as well.
In conclusion, the compliance buyout might become a powerful weapon for Boston. With Moore´s buyout and the Ducks buying out Backes, the Bruins could save up to $4.25 million of the salary-cap space for the upcoming season. Now that´s noteworthy.