Pittsburgh Penguins Buyout Possibilities and Cap Implications


The Pittsburgh Penguins opted not to use a compliance buyout coming out of the most recent lockout, which was part of the newest CBA and stemmed from a decrease in salary cap.  To be fair, they didn’t have a great candidate due to when their most troubling contracts were signed.

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As we progress into the 2015 offseason there’s a very good chance that someone’s contract will be bought out to free up some much needed cash.  The question is, who’s the best option for a buyout?

Many fans will immediately say Rob Scuderi.  And while that may be true, it’s important that the Pittsburgh Penguins make a proper decision that will have the least amount of long-term impact on their finances.  You don’t want to buyout a contract that will turn into a bigger headache two to three years from now.

Looking at the aforementioned Scuderi, it’s essentially guaranteed that he will not be on the Pittsburgh Penguins roster next season. However, they may not buy him out, as there are other options available.  There are teams in the league like the Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers, and Carolina Hurricanes that rarely pack their respective arena’s or get large TV ratings.  In turn, they don’t carry high team salaries and will periodically look for a veteran such as Scuderi to help them hit the cap floor.

Look at this way.  If the Pittsburgh Penguins were to buyout Scuderi’s contract the cap penalty will look like this over the next four seasons (via war-on-ice.com).

2015/16 – $1.3 million
2016/17 – $1.8 million
2017/18 – $0.9 million
2018/19 – $.09 million

Considering that penalty for four seasons, it would make more sense to move him and retain $1.5 million per year for the final two years of his contract.  That means that a team can acquire Scuderi for roughly $1.8 million, which isn’t a bad number for a veteran defenseman that can kill penalties.  I know I personally wouldn’t hate Scuderi’s contract nearly as much if we were only paying him $1.8 million.  No one is going to take Rob Scuderi straight up, but he could surely be worked into a package with another player or picks.

Chris Kunitz has been a name thrown around as a possible buyout this summer as well.  This is how it shakes out over the next four years if that were to happen.

2015/16 – $1.1 million
2016/17 – $1.6 million
2017/18 – $1.3 million
2018/19 – $1.3 million

That’s simply too much dead money to waste.  But, similar to Scuderi, a trade in which the Pittsburgh Penguins retain salary isn’t out of the question.  Kunitz can still be valuable for around $2.5 million per year.

Considering the remaining contracts for Pittsburgh, there aren’t many other options for a buyout.  Nick Spaling carries a very small buyout penalty and would free up around $1.5 million, but for that price you’re likely going to sign another Nick Spaling type of player.  Brandon Sutter would make sense mathematically, but you don’t buyout a 21-goal scorer whether he’s streaky or not.  If you’re going to rid yourself of Sutter it won’t be very hard to find a trade partner.

My assumption for this offseason is that Chris Kunitz will remain with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  I don’t believe that Sutter or Scuderi will be back. Whether they’re part of a packaged deal, or Scuderi gets bought out while Sutter gets moved remains to be seen.

Sutter is their best trade chip to address the top-six issue and there’s the potential for Oskar Sundqvist to fill the third-line center role.  There are also better options available in free agency such as Eric Fehr from the Washington Capitals.  Scuderi has become a liability and it’s time to make room for the defensive youth in this organization.

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