Earlier this month we heard that the Detroit Red Wings were actively shopping defenseman Xavier Ouellet, but now as we close in on free agency it seems they’ve come to a different decision. Darren Dreger of TSN reports that the Red Wings will place Ouellet on waivers for the purpose of a buyout. Ouellet has one year remaining on his contract and carries a $1.25MM cap hit. Since he’s still just 24 though, a buyout would only pay him 1/3rd of his remaining salary, meaning the Red Wings would incur the following cap charges:
- 2018-19: $166,667
- 2019-29: $216,667
They would also save over $860K in real salary, while burying Ouellet in the minor leagues would leave them with a $225K cap charge this season and force them to pay all $1.3MM in salary. Though it was clear that the Red Wings didn’t see a future for Ouellet in Detroit, buyouts for players this young are fairly rare. The 2011 second-round pick hasn’t found a full-time role with the team and with several even younger prospects ready to push for jobs this season there is no longer any room.
The Red Wings had an outstanding weekend, snatching up Filip Zadina after he fell a few spots and collecting Joe Veleno at the end of the first round. Those two were paired with a few other excellent prospects at the start of the second, making quite an impressive haul for the team in this year’s draft. Detroit is in the middle of a rebuild as they try to get out from under some of the bad contracts given out during their playoff run, and are building quite the prospect pipeline in a short amount of time. Defensemen like Dennis Cholowski and Filip Hronek will be competing for roles in the NHL before long, while Zadina could jump into the league right away.
For Ouellet, it’s unclear where his market will land after this buyout. Not many 24-year old defensemen get an opportunity at free agency, but there obviously wasn’t a huge trade market or the Red Wings would have used that instead of resorting to a buyout. He may have to accept a two-way contract and prove himself in training camp, or else try to fight back up from the minor leagues at some point. Regardless, this is hardly the end of his professional career.