Compliance Buyouts: The Florida Panthers’ Choice is Easy

Now that talks have finally wrapped up in NYC and hockey is on it’s way back to relevance, it’s time to look ahead at what the new CBA has to offer the Florida Panthers.

One of the biggest sticking points in this new CBA is that teams will now have the option to use two compliance buyouts to use prior to the 2013-2014 season, but not before this June. This option should allow teams to free up cap space in order to transition to the lowered cap of $64.3 million next season.  Much like NBA teams were able to amnesty one bad contract after the conclusion of their own lockout just last season, each NHL team will be able to dump two under performing or overpaid players from their roster with no affect on the salary cap or luxury tax. Now that this proposition has become a reality in the new CBA, the Florida Panthers have two obvious choices.

Ed Jovanovski

Ed Jovanovski, Florida Panthers
Ed Jovanovski’s time in Sunrise could be up.

As beloved as “Jovo Cop” is in South Florida, the Panthers would be in a much better position if they were given the option of severing ties with the aging defender.

Jovanovski was signed last season in order to get the Panthers off of the cap-room floor and provide fans with a recognizable face during the club’s rebuilding process in order to help ticket sales. Ironically enough, the Panthers’ success last season hurt Jovanovski more than it helped.

As the Panthers begin to improve and contend ahead of schedule, Jovanovski appears to be the odd man out on a now impressive and young blue line.

Jovanovski’s $4.125 million dollar cap hit is now a big detriment to the club as they look to improve elsewhere on the team. With the salary cap being lowed to $64.3 million next season, Jovanovski’s $4.125 million cap hit could potentially handcuff the team from re-signing young talent and building blocks for their future. However, the biggest drawback to Jovanovski’s contract situation is that while the Panthers are forced to play him due to his inflated contract, young defenders such as KeatonEllerby, Colby Robak, and Alex Petrovic are left either as scratches or treading water in the AHL.

Scottie Upshall

For a player who has never sniffed 40 points in a season during his NHL career, many fans were left scratching their heads when the Panthers signed winger Scottie Upshall to a 4 year contract, with an annual cap hit of $3.5 million.

Upshall was only able to compete in 26 regular season games last year due to injury. Although he showed flashes of good play on the ice, he will need to be an exceptional player over the next three seasons to merit the size of his contract. This season could be the deciding factor in whether or not Upshall is bought out or not.

Projected lineups have him playing alongside newcomers Jonathan Huberdeau and Peter Meuller. If Upshall is unable to play up to the level of the young talent around him, he will most certainly be in danger of losing his job. However this season may play out, the Panthers would be much better suited to dump Upshall’s contract and roll the dice with one of their younger prospects such as Quinton Howden.

For more on how compliance buyouts work, please read Mike Colligan’s article by clicking here.