Maple Leafs could thrive with compliance buyouts

It will be a list of all-stars and pluggers, of first-liners and goalies, even potential Hall of Famers.

Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis — like the rest of his NHL brethren — will be watching and guessing who’ll be on the list of this summer’s new wrinkle to the collective bargaining agreement: the compliance buyout.

“We all speculate and say this guy is an automatic buyout,” said Tampa GM Steve Yzerman. “But teams don’t share that information; you don’t know their financial situation, what they’re doing with trades, or guys in the minors, what they’re planning to spend.

“I’m very interested in seeing what happens. It could be very interesting, or it could be very anti-climatic.”

The compliance buyout offers a way for some teams to get under the salary cap (it drops to $64.3 million next season from $70.2 million) and offers other teams a chance to get out of bad long-term deals without any consequences toward the salary cap.


Centre Brad Richards, New York Rangers.

Tongues wagged from the moment John Tortorella made Richards a healthy scratch in the playoffs. Tortorella is gone, but Richards remains one of the NHL’s highest-paid players. At 33, he had a horrible season.

He has seven years remaining on a $60-million (U.S.) deal. A buyout would cost New York about $35 million and the Rangers would still be on the hook for $10 million in signing bonuses (which are exempt from the buyout). The Rangers are in cap trouble, with $13.5 million in space left and the need to re-sign Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh and Carl Hagelin.

LEAFS: Made a half-hearted attempt at signing Richards two summers ago, but they believed he was headed to New York all along. At a reduced rate and a short term, the Leafs could use Richards. The scuttlebutt is Richards was happiest in Dallas and would like to return if new Stars GM Jim Nill is willing.