Islanders: Compliance buyouts option in doubt for 2020-21

Compliance buyouts might not be an option for the New York Islanders in 2020-21.

With $10.119 million in projected cap space for the 2020-21 season and with three (maybe four) RFAs needing extensions, the New York Islanders are going to find it difficult to get everyone signed under the salary cap.

The potential of a compliance buyout or two would give the Islanders the breathing room they need to get everyone under contract and under the hard cap ceiling.

We were warned by Elliotte Friedman in early May that owners were not keen on compliance buyouts and it looks like that line hasn’t necessarily changed just yet.

No Compliance Buyout For You

New York Post’s Larry Brooks tweeted on Tuesday that compliance buyouts have not yet been part of the negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA.

Like with any news recently, this could change at any moment.

Without compliance (or amnesty) buyouts, the options for the New York Islanders – and just about every team in the league -to create necessary cap space takes a significant hit.

Nearly half the league (13 teams) will be like the Islanders with $11 million or less in cap space for 2020-21. Those 13 teams include three other Metropolitan Division teams: Washington Capitals ($10.394 million), Carolina Hurricanes ($9.149 million), Columbus Blue Jackets ($6.402 million).

The Isles still have options to create some space in order to get their RFAs under contract and within the salary cap. But neither of them offer as much breathing room as a compliance buyout would.

Trading players away for futures (picks and prospects) could create the same amount of breathing room as a compliance buyout and would benefit the owners by eliminating costs. But a trade is a two-way transaction. The Isles still need to find a trade partner for any contract they want to move.

Guys like Andrew Ladd and Johnny Boychuk had trade protection worked into their contracts. Ladd has a 15-team no-trade list while Boychuk has a 23-team no-trade list. That makes finding a trade partner quite difficult. And that’s assuming a team on either player’s no-trade list wants them. Which at least in Ladd’s case, is a bold assumption.

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Not having compliance buyouts in 2020-21 wouldn’t be disastrous for the Islanders, but it would make things quite dicey and certainly makes the possibility of an offer sheet for one of those RFAs much more real.