NHL Buyout Rules Explained

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 05: Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the New York Rangers skates in warm-ups past fans with an upside down sign for him, prior to the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Madison Square Garden on April 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Columbus Blue Jackets v New York Rangers | Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Another NHL contract buyout window has passed, and while it's a particularly dry period of the offseason, many fans are wondering exactly how these complicated scenarios play out, and what the ramifications may be. So allow us to provide a brief explainer.

NHL Buyout Window

The NHL's second buyout window began on Monday, July 29 and ended Wednesday, July 31 for teams that have player who are arbitration-eligible. The first buyout period ran from the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final to June 30.

NHL Buyout Rules Explained

Any player's contract may be bought out, although the remaining money and years left on the contract makes doing so not feasible for certain players (hint: Jack Johnson of the Pittsburgh Penguins).

However, the NHL's buyout rules are unique, as they have a specific age measurement of 26 as to when players will receive more or less money when teams want their contracts off the books. For example, if a player in under the age of 26, a team can buy out their contract for 1/3 of the remaining value on the deal. If a player in over 26, they are responsible for 2/3 of the remaining value. This puts more onus on teams honoring the contracts of veterans, as younger players likely have more value on the open market.

When can an NHL player be bought out?

Any player, regardless of status or contract, can be bought out. However, before doing so, they must be placed on waivers. Should that player clear waivers, they can then be bought out in full and thrown in the free agency pool.