Sunday: Friedman reports that Grabner has cleared waivers and now is an unrestricted free agent.
Saturday: The desperate cost-cutting in the desert has begun. The Arizona Coyotes are in arguably the worst salary cap position of any NHL team heading into this off-season and had to make moves to be compliant ahead of next season. The first casualty is veteran winger Michael Grabner. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman was the first to report that Grabner has been placed on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout.
With just one year remaining on his current contract, the Coyotes will face penalties for just two years for buying out Grabner. Rather than deal with an AAV of $3.35MM this season, Grabner will count for just $833K against the cap in 2020-21 for a savings of over $2.5MM. This brings CapFriendly’s cap space projection to about $3.6MM (which still won’t go very far with seven roster spots to fill and a number of restricted free agents to sign). In 2021-22, the buyout will cost Arizona just over $1.25MM.
Unlike most buyouts, there is a small chance that Grabner does not clear waivers. Even at 32, Grabner still plays with tremendous speed and is a dangerous penalty killer. However, he has not played a full NHL season in two years and his offensive production, even if healthy, is likely limited to 20-30 points at most. Teams will likely take their chances at getting Grabner at a lower cost on the free agent market than claiming his $3.35MM contract. Grabner will surely draw attention if he does make it to market.