In Elliotte Friedman’s Friday edition of his column 31 Thoughts, he mentions the trade that sent Brooks Orpik and Philipp Grubauer to the Colorado Avalanche and the subsequent re-signing of Orpik in August.
It turns out the NHL wasn’t too pleased with Washington’s cap space clearing strategy.
14. You’ll remember that Washington traded defenceman Brooks Orpik to Colorado at the draft. The Avalanche bought out Orpik from the one season remaining on his contract, and he went back to the Capitals one month later. Savings for Washington: $4 million in cap space. A couple of weeks ago, the league notified the individual clubs that it reviewed the situation, and explained its concerns. Teams viewed the memo as a warning, that if the NHL could make an example of someone, it would.
As a refresher, the Capitals dealt Orpik and Grubauer to the Avalanche for a 2018 second round pick, which turned into Kody Clark.
The Avs then bought out the last year of Orpik’s five year, $27.5 million deal, which came in at an AAV of $5.5 million.
According to CapFriendly, Orpik’s buyout will cost the Avalanche $2.5 million this season and $1.5 million for the 2019-20 season. Thus Orpik will likely make the same amount of money – albeit on a different time frame and through two teams – but remains on Washington and has a different cap hit. That’s cap circumvention at its finest, people.
There is currently no rule in the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement preventing this sort of maneuver. But it could mean a rule change in the upcoming CBA. The NHL and players association can opt out of the current CBA, which would expire on Sept. 15, 2022, on Sept. 19, 2019 if they both agree to do so.
4:40pm update: At Friday’s training camp, general manager Brian MacLellan was asked about the report and said that the league was satisfied and the problem was resolved.
“They put us through a thorough questioning,” MacLellan said “We did everything above board, and we answered the questions honestly. There was no repercussions, so I think we’re good.”
“We did everything by the book. We did everything straight,” he added.
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