Compliance Buyouts & No-Movement Clauses; Don't Get Your Hopes Up >
 
 

by Michael DeNicola


Saturday, March 09, 2013 --



So, I'm on my way to Wawa to pick up breakfast burritos and coffee -- such is my Saturday morning tradition -- and I'm going back and forth between 97.5 The Fanatic and 94 WYSP, listening to the talking heads give their input about what the Flyers ought to do next. 


After Thursday's horrendously inexcusable loss to the Penguins, and Tuesday's defeat to the Broadway Blueshirts, the orange and black are skating their way into Boston to battle the scary great Bruins. You'll have to forgive me if I say my feelings about today's tilt aren't the most positive. 


Nevertheless, the disc jockeys were mentioning how poorly the Flyers have come out of the gates this season, discussing whether or not this team can even legitimately contend for an 8th seed position for the Playoffs. This week against division and conference rivals was supposed to add momentum. Instead, it's left each of us wondering if we'll even have a horse in this race come June. 


Fans called into the radio stations, naturally pouring their Armchair GM thoughts into the radio-waves for all to hear. The popular vote is to buyout Ilya Bryzgalov's 9-year, $51m contract, which demands a spanking $5,666,667 average annual value against our Club's salary cap. 


Then there were callers saying that "the Flyers MUST trade Daniel Briere," or, should he not waive his strict no-movement clause, use one of our League-given compliance buyouts on the 35-year old veteran.


I'm here to say this -- don't get your hopes up. 



Don't get your hopes up on the Philadelphia Flyers using either of their two compliance buyouts on any single one of their players. The compliance buyout was introduced to the NHL world during the long and trialed collective bargaining process. It's sort of a "do-over" for each NHL Club, and it allows the team to wipe an overpaid player's contract clean off their books without it counting against the cap.


But don't believe for a second that that's where it stops. 


See, in any form of the buyout, each Club owes the Player a lump sum of money. That amount is fixed by a percentage that's hashed out by what the Player is still owed in salary dollars and how many more years are left on his contract. 


For instance -- if the Philadelphia Flyers were to buyout Ilya Bryzgalov, then Ed Snider & Co. would have to front a lump sum of 34-million dollars. That's ACTUAL dollars, no CAP dollars. And the only time a team can use their compliance buyout(s) is during the offseason's summer months. 


So, Ed Snider pays $34-million of the franchise's private monies..... and THEN has to replace Bryzgalov with a competent netminder and whatever salary he'd earn in Year 1 of his deal. One who's either be signed as a UFA, or traded to Broad Street. In the end, the Philadelphia Flyers could wind up dropping 40-million in actual dollars on ONE roster spot in the span of 3-months. 


The process of buying out a player's contract and then replacing him with even more money is not a smart financial decision for any business. And the Flyers are, after all, a business. Everyone seems to believe that this "do-over" buyout is music to every Club Owner's ears. 


It isn't. 


It's a money pit, and unless the team absolutely needs to use one (say, like.... the Montreal Canadiens on Scott Gomez, or the New York Rangers on Wade Redden), then they're not going to burn through what they collected through private or shared revenue streams. Only a handful of franchises can afford to do so anyway. Yes, the Flyers could be considered one of those Clubs, but at the same time, Ed Snider's not one to just chuck $34-million down a rabbit hole, pony up $4 - 6 million more and HOPE whatever free agent goalie he snagged can fill the shoes of Bryzgalov better than Ilya's been performing. 


"Bryzgalov's been the best, most consistent player on this team! How DARE YOU!!!!"


Spare me from your blind love and devotion. I'm a realist, and let's be real ourselves -- Yes, Bryz has played much better than he has from a season ago, but he's still paid as an elite twinesitter. Elite goalies bailout their teams and steal games. Bryz just hasn't tapped that sort of caliber. At least not on the consistent basis his salary says he should. 


So, would I be opposed of using a buyout on Bryzgalov to save this team cap dollars? No. It would trickle downward in the books and allow us to re-sign upcoming RFA's. Then again, it's not my (estimated) 40-million dollars I'd be wasting all at once to get rid of a problem I created for myself not even two League years ago. 



Then there comes Danny Briere. 


Hockey Guys writer Dustin Leed did an absolutely sensational job proving what I've been saying for the past two, three seasons now; Danny Briere's cap hit is NOT worth what he brings to the post-season (Leed's article). 


When Briere signed on-board with the Flyers, we desperately needed a big name free agent at the time. But over the last few seasons, Danny's become more and more this team's black sheep, and it has never been more apparent than it is this year. I just think that this Flyers squad is heading in a different direction, and we could use Briere's $6.5m average annual value elsewhere throughout the roster. A lot of fans agree with me, thankfully. 


But there's that no-movement clause of Danny's that I'm 99.9% positive he wouldn't waive. And why should he? He's got it good in the City of Brotherly Love. His family is here, his boys go to school around here, and he's a 35-year old man who's earned where he is today. 


Yea, those personal elements are all good 'n stuff, but it does jack shit to help this team out to its fullest potential. So, when people agree that Danny would never waive his NMC, the immediate response is, "buy his contract out!"


Buying out Danny Briere would cost a hell of a lot less than Ilya Bryzgalov. To do this, Ed Snider would have to pay a lump sum of 5-million actual dollars. But, just like Bryzgalov, there's the money it would take to fill that void leftover once Briere's sent packing. That's a potential cost of $8 - 10 million. Again, all in the span of 3-months or less. Not the wisest financial decision. 


But there's also on more factor about Briere that has no price tag -- his leadership. This Club loves its leadership. The Flyers pride themselves on the monumental leaders they've laid over their history like stepping stones over a pond. And you can certainly count Briere on that list. 


Look, I don't hate the guy. Sure, I want him gone like a cold sore, but I know he's a great guy. He's a nice man, a great father, and he's transitioned that to the dressing room. He's been some of our younger stars' father figure. You can't just REPLACE that. 


For these reasons, I believe the Philadelphia Flyers have every intention on honoring the rest of Daniel Briere's contract, nor would they ask him to waive his no-movement clause. 



Could I be wrong? Sure. I'm always wrong. I'm human, after all. But I have been right many times as well. It comes with the territory of 30-years of life experience. These are all just my thoughts, and a window into how I make sense of things. 


Fans tend to throw around the term "Compliance Buyout" as if it has no repercussions whatsoever, when, in fact, that's the furthest from the truth. I mean, I know Ed Snider is not cheap. He'll spend whatever amount of money to get the Stanley Cup back home in Philadelphia. But he's not irresponsible with his money or the franchise's money either. In hindsight, perhaps he and Paul Holmgren were irresponsible with a handful of moves, trades, signings, etc. But hindsight's always 20/20, and you learn from the outcome. 


I just cannot see our Club dropping tens of millions of dollars this way, in such a short timeframe, on one or two roster spots. 


But hey, here's to me being wrong....



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