Did Lightning seek buyout loophole for Lecavalier?
A report suggested Tampa Bay and Toronto were exploring a possible trade involving Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier in which the Maple Leafs would would buy out Lecavalier's contract, allowing the Lightning to re-sign the veteran center to a more affordable deal. TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO
TAMPA - Were the Tampa Bay Lightning trying to exploit a potential loophole in the amnesty buyout clause of the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement? A report in Wednesday's New York Post suggested Tampa Bay and Toronto were exploring a possible trade involving Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier in which the Maple Leafs would would buy out Lecavalier's contract, allowing the Lightning to re-sign the veteran center to a more affordable deal. Whether the report was valid - a Lightning spokesman said he was unaware of any loophole - the NHL quashed any such agreement, issuing a memo to all 30 clubs regarding the possible scenario. "Depending on the precise circumstances, we would view that to be a circumvention (of the salary cap),'' NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an e-mail to The Tribune.
No specific examples were brought to the league regarding the possibility reported by The Post, Daly said. The reported deal involved Tampa Bay sending Lecavalier and another asset to the Maple Leafs, who then would have utilized an amnesty buyout of Lecavalier's remaining contract, which is worth $45 million over seven years. The buyout would have cost $30 million over the next 14 years. Once Lecavalier's contract was bought out and he became a free agent, Lecavalier would re-sign with the Lightning at a reduced salary and a lower salary cap hit, which is currently $7.7 million. Under the CBA rules, a team is not allowed to re-sign or reacquire via trade for one year a player whose contract the team bought out. Lecavalier has been the subject of a potential buyout in recent days as the window for the amnesty buyout period opens at 11 p.m. Wednesday and remains open until 5 p.m. on July 4. A buyout of Lecavalier's contract would cost Tampa Bay $30 million spread out over 14 years, but free up salary cap space for Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman. Tampa Bay is approximately $2.4 million under the $64.3 million salary cap for the 2013-14 season with roster spots that still need to be filled. To help teams reach the $64.3 million salary cap, down from $70 million last season, the recently ratified CBA allows each team the chance to buyout the contracts of up to two players this offseason or next without incurring a salary cap penalty. Normally, a contract that is bought out at two-third of its remaining value counts against the cap for the full term of the buyout, which is twice the length of the remaining contract.