NHL closing compliance buyout loophole in CBA

Gregory Shamus

The NHL is working to close a current loophole in the CBA. With their new rule, teams will not be allowed to re-sign a player following a trade and subsequent compliance buyout by the player's new team.

The NHL Is working to close a loophole in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows teams to circumvent the intent of the compliance buyout, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post. The league has informed teams that they will not allow teams to re-sign players they traded and were subsequently bought out as part of the compliance buyout.

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs have reportedly been considering a deal that would send Vincent Lecavalier -- and the seven years and $45 million remaining on his contract -- to Toronto so the Maple Leafs could use one of their compliance buyouts on him. The deal would make use of the Maple Leafs' considerable cap room and, after Lecavalier was bought out, the Lightning would re-sign him to a more cap-friendly contract.

The CBA's current loophole allows for the Lightning and Maple Leafs to do such a deal, but the NHL is considering such a trade and subsequent re-signing circumvention of the CBA. Because of that, then, the league will not register Lecavalier's new contract with the Lightning.

The CBA does not allow teams to re-sign players they use their compliance buyout on for at least one year. Now that the NHL has taken away the trade and re-sign option in the compliance buyout, the Lightning will have to outright get rid of Lecavalier if they don't want his contract to remain on the books.

The compliance buyout was built into the new CBA after the lockout to allow teams to rid themselves of bloated contracts in the new, lower salary capped NHL. Each team was granted two compliance buyouts, which they can use at their discretion. Players that are bought out under this rule receive either one-third or two-thirds of their contract, depending on how long they have been in the NHL, and then become free agents. The team still has to pay the player what he is owed, but that salary doesn't count against their salary cap.

Teams can use their compliance buyouts beginning Wednesday night at 11 p.m. ET. The compliance buyout period lasts until July 4, one day before the new league year starts and free agency begins.

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