NHL Morning Rumor Mill – March 28, 2014

Latest on David Clarkson, Ville Leino and Thomas Greiss.

Will the Leafs buy out David Clarkson in June?

Will the Leafs buy out David Clarkson in June?

SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN’s Greg Brady recently reported the following via Twitter on Maple Leafs winger David Clarkson: “Doug MacLean just told us there will be serious discussions from the Leafs as to buying out David Clarkson this summer for cap relief.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs currently have over $49 million invested in just 12 players for 2014-15, with several key players to re-sign or replace. Buying out Clarkson will indeed provide the Leafs with some cap relief, but they don’t have any compliance buyouts left. That means it’s a regular buyout which will count at varying amounts to 2025-26 against the Leafs payroll. As per CapGeek.com:

  • 2014-15: $2,291,667
  • 2015-16: $1,541,667
  • 2016-17: $41,667
  • 2017-18: $41,667
  • 2018-19: $2,291,667
  • 2019-20: $3,791,667
  • 2020-21: $1,791,667
  • 2021-22: $1,791,667
  • 2022-23: $1,791,667
  • 2023-24: $1,791,667
  • 2024-25: $1,791,667
  • 2025-26: $1,791,667

It’ll be interesting to see if the Leafs actually go this route. Deep-pocketed MLSE can afford this, especially if the salary cap keeps rising each year. Still, it’s an expensive, lengthy correction of GM Dave Nonis’ biggest contract mistake. As rich as the Leafs are, they cannot afford many more costly free agent blunders like this. Speaking of pricey free agent gaffes…

THE BUFFALO NEWS: John Vogl reports the struggles of Sabres forward Ville Leino makes him a candidate for a compliance buyout this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the final year where teams can employ the compliance buyout option. Figure Leino to be as good as gone. 

ARIZONA REPUBLIC’s Sarah McLellan reports via Twitter contract talks between the Phoenix Coyotes and backup Thomas Greiss are expected to resume in the off-season.


  1. I Realize it’s a risky proposition but why not give Clarkson another year. Surely He didn’t forget how to play hockey over the summer, he just didn’t execute. I think the suspension and injury contributed to his play. Just a thought.

    • I’m with you – I don’t think it’s as risky as buying him out after only 1 year. He’s had a bad year, no denying that fact, but I think you have to let him have one more year before making this decision. If you watch how he played in NJ and how he has played in Toronto, he almost seems like he’s not letting things come naturally – gripping the stick tight and almost forcing things to happen. I think it’s worth giving him another shot next year – if it’s more of the same, buy him out at that time.

      • They wont buy out Clarkson after 1 bad year its ridiculous,may look at it at the end of next season or perhaps holding a bunch of salary and giving away a pick but you can bet they wont take a cap hit for the next 12 years starting this summer. Plain old dumb, stoking the media fire.

    • Agree. Clarkson started behind the eight ball and tried to be someone other than himself all year. He needs to get in shape, come back and be David Clarkson – not Wendel Clark, or some other former hero, just be himself – a solid dependable third line guy. His contract sucks but that’s someone else’s fault. It’s looking more likely every day that he’ll be playing for a different coach with different systems and that may help him, and others, as well.

      • Agreed Shticky and BCLeafFan
        Would be a terrible move to buy him out and retain 12 years of cap hit (even if it’s relatively small) – we’re still on the hook for Tucker this year and have no need for more of that.
        Let’s be honest here – the guy is an effective third-liner when he’s playing well. He’s being measured by his contract (which you can either consider fair or unfair) but he wasn’t brought in here to score 20 goals – he was brought in to bring offensive, defensive and physical play to the team. Quite honestly, I don’t understand why we still dress an enforcer like Orr – the beauty in a player like Clarkson is that he can fill that role while still being an effective player

        • Not to memtion if you look at that contract its just about buy out proof untill the last 6 years. If he is bad next year (I dont believe he can be worse) and puts up 10-12 goals you still could potentially hold Half is contract so 2 + million (which makes him cheap for even a third or 4 th line type guy) and deal him with a pick and be done with it, without having the nearly 4 million dollar hit in 2019/20 or the nearly 3 million hit the year before. There are other ways to get rid of Clarkson if they feel the need done the road that dont involve paying him for the next 12 years.

  2. Ville Leino got injured last night. I don’t know if it’s serious but when it’s Leino it’s always serious. I believe this effects whether or not the Sabres can buy him out or not. I think he stays. Plays as a healthy scratch for majority of his contract. Sabres need salary to get upto the floor next season and there aren’t many players that will sign in Buffalo this offseason.

    I can see Clarkson getting bought out.

    • If you look at how the buy out is structured you dont really save anything by doing it for th first 3years, no sense buying out a 5 .25 cap hit to have almost half of the caphit count against the cap anyway, I am not saying he will never be bought out but he is a few years away from it with how that stupid contract works. Instead of front loading it and making the first couple years his big ones the Leafs are paying him 7 mill in the middle years of a 7 year deal makes it just about impossible to buy him out until the expensive years.

      • Doesn’t Buffalo have compliance buyouts left? I believe that is what is being suggested. No cap hit that way and this summer is the last time to do so.

        • Nevermind. You’re talking about a Clarkson buyout, not Leino.

        • Clarkson couldn’t be a compliance buy out candidate any ways since he signed with Toronto after the new CBA was ratified and this prohibits any one signing after the new CBA of being compliance buy out.

  3. I guess my question is, can the Sabres sell Leino’s contract to the KHL or European league? Perhaps that is the solution – let him play over there. Otherwise, just buy him out.

    • He can retire from the NHL and go over to Europe on his own, a la Kovalchuk, I would assume. But you cannot loan players to other leagues and avoid the cap hit anymore. Those days are gone.

    • He left the game with “light headedness”…I don’t think that’s debilitating enough to prevent his buy out. His contract is the worst in the entire NHL when you look at cost vs. production. Definitely one of Darcy’s worst moves, but then again at the time who knew? Crystal balls are hard to come by.

  4. Just as it’s common in the NHL for players to suddenly have career seasons just before becoming a UFA, and just as common in the NHL for sophomore players to not play as well in their rookie seasons it is also common in the NHL for top-line players to not play to expectations in their first year of a new big-buck contract. Lets see what happens this coming season. Then you’ll have a good gauge of what to do.

    • Handzus was pretty good in St.Louis and Philly signed a big deal in LA and absolutely stunk the first year. Went on to have around the same numbers afterwards, sometimes it happens where a player just takes some time to fit in agreed.

  5. No chance the leafs buy out Clarkson this season, one bad year doesn’t define his career, as a Flyers fan I got to watch alot of Clarkson and he was a tough guy to play against pretty much every game. I honestly think he is still tradeable, I think a team like Edm could use a guy like Clarkson big time, as they are to soft through their top 6(like playing a CHL team pretty much). I could also see a trade involving another player not living up to his contract, similer to the Liles for Gleason swap. Just tossing this out there but Lecavalier is centering the flyers fourth line tonight and they could be in a similar situation with him come summer. What about Lecavalier(4y4.5m) for Clarkson and the leafs hold back 1.5m(6y3.75m). Leafs can move Kadri to the wing(as I feel part of his stuggles have been having to much responsibilty with the puck playing center) and flyers add a guy whos playing style is always welcome. Thoughts!

  6. Clarkson is a third line player and a good one. Bad contract and over spend on a guy who wanted Toronto anyway. Leino is terrible and a one play-off wonder with the Flyers. Not only off Buffalo roster but out of the league.

  7. The Clarkson contract; while large, is not worth dumping after just one season, Give him another year..maybe two as I’m sure he’s upset with his own performance as well so for now, let it be.

    Please though..Randy has to go and NOW..not LATER…this team needs a wake up call and it really doesn’t matter right now who does what or plays with whomever, its not working under Randy’s system so dump him while the season is still in cling mode

    After tonight’s loss to the Flyers and the Wings on tap tomorrow, if they lose to Detroit on Saturday, please somebody fire his sorry ass. They suck and he sucks and it isn’t going to get any better until he’s tossed to the curb so grow a brain MLSE and dump him would ya

  8. I agree with the overall sentiment on the board, too early to go the drastic buy-out route with Clarkson. Give the guy another year to reset, recalibrate, and come back as the fierce, dependable grinder (/with a scoring presence on the PP) that he was in NJ.

    Lyle, do you know whether the league would approve a trade in which the destination team immediately intends to use a compliance buyout? IE. The Leafs trade Clarkson (+ a player or pick of some value to sweeten the deal) to a team who still holds a compliance buyout (which they don’t intend to use otherwise), so that that team could turn around and buy Clarkson out of his contract without penalty? Thus, the Leafs would essentially part with a prospect or pick, instead of losing millions off the cap through 2026, as the price of getting rid of his contract?

    • As someone else recently noted, compliance buyouts are eligible only for contracts signed on or before September 12, 2012. Therefore, Clarkson is ineligible to receive a compliance buyout. The league would not approve a trade of a player to a team whereby he became an automatic compliance buyout as that would be consider cap circumvention. Similarly, if a teams acquires a player at this year’s trade deadline, then turned around and bought him out, the buyout would be voided by the league, as it would again constitute cap circumvention.

  9. Clarkson to the Islanders for Bailey, Reimer, and a 4th. Islanders have to spend bailey could use a fresh start.