The Ottawa Senators have admitted their mistake and today placed Alex Burrows on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout. Burrows was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks in 2017 and immediately signed to a two-year contract extension. That extension though came after Burrows’ 35th birthday, meaning the buyout will have no effect on his 2018-19 cap hit. The Senators will still carry his $2.5MM contract on their books, but will be required to pay only two thirds of that amount, spread over the next two seasons.
The Canucks received budding prospect Jonathan Dahlen in the deal, while the Senators were hoping that Burrows experience and feisty on-ice play would help them in a season they felt they could contend for the Stanley Cup. While Burrows did play well down the stretch and the team came within one goal of reaching the Finals, he took a huge step backwards in 2017-18 and registered just 14 points in 71 games. He obviously didn’t have much more to give, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him file retirement papers after the buyout is completed.
It’s a tough move for the Senators to make, but if you forget about the price they paid for him it is one they had to do. The team has several younger players ready to spend some time in the NHL, and Ottawa is desperate to not finish at the bottom of the standings. As much as some believe there is nothing they can do to stop that from happening, GM Pierre Dorion is trying his best to put together a roster that is competitive. They don’t have the benefit of picking early should they finish out of the playoffs, since their first-round selection belongs to the Colorado Avalanche, meaning their goal is development and competitiveness this season. Burrows wasn’t playing a positive impact on either of those things, meaning he needed to be shipped out somehow.
The cap hit won’t really hurt the Senators, as the team has nearly $20MM in room and aren’t expected to come anywhere close to the ceiling this season. Operating on an internal budget, it seems likely that they’ll be closer to the cap floor than its ceiling by the end of the summer.