I guess after having Pierre Dorion be available in a media availability and an exclusive interview on TSN 1200’s ‘In the Box’, someone missed an opportunity to ask whether the general manager had any intention of buying out one of the few bad contracts remaining on the Senators’ books.
Considering the team’s cap flexibility and roster situation, you could hardly blame anyone for assuming that the Senators would be content to employ Bobby Ryan or Nikita Zaitsev for the interim, but TSN’s Darren Dreger dropped a bombshell this morning indicating that the Senators intended on buying out the remaining two years of Bobby Ryan’s deal.
Expect the Ottawa Senators to place Bobby Ryan on waivers for the purpose of a buyout.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) September 25, 2020
With Ryan, Craig Anderson and Mark Borowiecki slated to move on, that means that the only member of the team’s 2017 Conference Final run is Colin White, who played in one game and accumulated 2:39 of ice time against the Penguins.
Having already paid the $2 million signing bonus due to Ryan for the 2020-21 season, Ryan was scheduled to be paid a base salary of $5.5 million in 2020-21 in addition to another $2 million signing bonus and $5.5 million base salary in 2021-22 as well.
In buying out the two years remaining on the 33-year old’s current deal, the Senators will save themselves approximately $7.2 million over the course of the next two seasons.
Here is CapFriendly.com‘s breakdown of the buyout:
Over the course of the buyout, the Senators are not saving that much relative money, but where you really see the benefit is over the course of the first two years. Considering reports that the Senators cut every member of the hockey operations staff and the coaching staff’s salary by 50-percent, maybe it should not be that surprising to see the organization curtail spending on the player’s budget.
Last summer the Senators generated headlines by having a projected roster that surpassed the salary cap floor in projected cap hit, but not actual base salary and were accused of essentially circumventing the spirit of the CBA.
With Ryan’s buyout, things get interesting and all eyes will be on what the Senators spend on salary this season versus what their actual cap hit is.
Whether that scrutiny is fair or unfair is open to debate.
The explanation for the move could simply be an opportunity for the organization to shed real money at a time when the owner is getting hammered by the financial complications of the Covid-19 pandemic. Dumping Ryan at this juncture could simply reflect the actions of a general manager who is acquiescing to the demands of an owner to dump salary and reap the benefits of an inflated cap hit that doesn’t reflect what the Senators are actually spending on Ryan’s buyout.
Or, this could signify that the team is prepared and willing to eat bad money and help the team’s future outlook. For years this organization has championed the idea that their lack of spending will eventually allow them to exploit the spendthrifts that flirt with the salary cap ceiling. Well, now’s the opportunity for the organization to put its money where its mouth is and either acquire good players as a discount because teams are desperate to shed money or acquire and absorb bad salary in exchange for future assets that can benefit the Senators’ future outlook — whether the Senators use these futures to draft players they want or use as trade capital to acquire more desirable players.
Whatever the case, buying Bobby Ryan out now was largely unforeseen and does not really give the team that much more financial flexibility.
It does however open up a very significant hole on the right wing.
Between having to sign their RFAs and needing to go find a goalie, cap floor not a concern. While I think some teams are tying to dump contracts on them, Sens are fielding way more calls from teams right now looking to get at their bevy of 2nd round picks…
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) September 25, 2020
On the Senators’ roster right now, the team has Connor Brown, Drake Batherson and Rudolfs Balcers as internal possibilities to slot in on the right side.
Barring the Senators drafting a winger who they expect to step into the lineup, the team will likely have to procure one on the free agent market or via trade.
Given Dorion’s comments yesterday about the need to acquire some veterans to help bring the young prospects along, it is interesting to see the organization elect to part ways with strong characters like Mark Borowiecki, Craig Anderson and now Bobby Ryan — especially after the latter was recently recognized as the 2020 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy recipient.
Anderson’s relative ineffectiveness last season and the depth that the Senators have at the goaltending made it easy to understand why they chose not to offer him a contract. With Borowiecki and Ryan, I’m somewhat surprised to see the organization’s willingness to move on.
Say what you will about either player’s effectiveness, but I could not think of two better people to help mentor the next wave of Senators players coming through the pipeline. Certainly, Ryan was still a relatively effective player who could have played on the team’s third line while Borowiecki could have been that hardworking character guy that could be the team’s sixth or seventh defenceman.
And that is the difficulty with analyzing this buyout news. It is really difficult to nitpick the details of this move without knowing how the organization is going to proceed.
As a standalone move, the Bobby Ryan buyout can be interpreted in so many ways, so what is Pierre Dorion going to do next?