Even with acquiring Alex Tuch in the Jack Eichel deal, the Buffalo Sabres were going to be under the cap floor. There were various ways they could avoid that, but instead of dealing with those details all season long, they’ve just acquired Johnny Boychuk’s contract from the New York Islanders. The deal is for future considerations and Boychuk is not expected to play again.
Sabres GM Kevyn Adams explained:
This move is important because it gives us flexibility throughout the season from a roster perspective. There are different conversations that we’ve had with many teams. The key for us was to give us flexibility without compromising where our current roster stands.
Remember, despite Boychuk being essentially retired due to an eye injury, he is still under contract for the 2021-22 season. He carries a $6MM cap hit, but the base salary is only $1.25MM. Even that amount is likely covered at least in part by insurance, meaning the Sabres won’t be paying out much (if any) actual salary in order to stay cap compliant. (CapFriendly shares the specific details, reporting that 60% of Boychuk’s salary is insured, meaning the Sabres are on the hook for less than $500K)
While he was on long-term injured reserve for the Islanders, Boychuk will likely be moved to normal IR for the Sabres, which keeps that $6MM hit on their cap. After the Eichel trade the team was only barely cap compliant, and wouldn’t have been once players like Tuch returned and pushed others off the roster. This move will allow them to freely bounce players up and down as needed without worrying about the lower limit.
For the Islanders, this is actually quite a significant move. With him they were operating in long-term injured reserve relief, meaning they couldn’t accrue cap space throughout the year. By moving him out, they’re now below the $81.5MM cap ceiling and can once again accrue space for a midseason addition. This is really just a case of two teams helping each other out cap-wise, while not exchanging any real assets.