The Edmonton Oilers, as expected, are executing a buyout. Back in May, at his season ending press conference, General Manager Ken Holland admitted that the club was likely to use a buyout in advance of free agency opening on July 28th. With today the last day to place a player on waivers for the purpose of a buyout, the club has kept their word.
Veteran forward James Neal, who has played the last two seasons in Edmonton, was placed on waivers earlier today. Neal will be bought out tomorrow, and will become an unrestricted free agent.
Neal was acquired by the Oilers from the Calgary Flames in July of 2019 in exchange for Milan Lucic and a third-round pick in last week’s NHL Entry Draft. Neal burst onto the scene in Edmonton in 2019-20, scoring 19 goals and finishing the season with 31 points in 55 games. Neal then tacked on two goals and three points in four playoff games in the ‘Return to Play’ bubble in Edmonton.
2020-21 was a more difficult road for Neal. He contracted COVID-19 early and never was able to get into any rhythm with the Oilers after missing training camp and the first few weeks of games.
Neal only appeared in 29 regular season games in 2020-21, and scored just 10 points (5 g, 5 a) while also clearing waivers and spending time on the taxi squad. In the playoffs, Neal appeared in just two games against the Winnipeg Jets in the first round and failed to register a point.
In all, Neal scored 24 goals in 84 regular season games with the club over the course of two seasons.
Thanks to the buyout, the Oilers will create $3,833,333 in cap space for both the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons. The club will carry a dead money penalty of $1,916,667 in both 2023-24 and 2024-25.
While Neal will be bought out tomorrow, the club did not place Mikko Koskinen on waivers for the purpose of a buyout. The club is hopeful to move the final year of Koskinen’s contract via trade. He carries a $4,500,000 cap hit and the Oilers have been engaged with multiple teams on a potential deal.