After playing an abbreviated 56-game regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs extending into July, National Hockey League clubs face a compacted off-season calendar before the start of training camps for the 2021-22 season.
While the deadline for teams submitting protected lists, the Seattle expansion draft, the NHL Draft, and the start of free agency are only weeks away, the first window for contract buyouts will begin on Friday, only 48 hours after the Tampa Bay Lightning hoisted the Cup.
The league’s salary cap remaining at $81.5 million for the foreseeable future is a large factor in whether general managers go the buyout route, but in some circumstances, it may be the best option to extricate themselves from deals that are not cost-effective and gain some financial flexibility.
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Here are some names that you could see being bought out in the coming days:
Atlantic Division – Frans Nielsen (DET)
Nielsen scored one goal in 29 games last season and has one year left at $5.25 million, Richard Panik (DET), acquired as a salary dump as part of the Anthony Mantha/Jakub Vrana deal, has two years at $2.75 million AAV and the buyout would cost less than $1 million against the cap for three of the four years. Anton Stralman (FLA), a buyout of the final year of his contract would save the Panthers $3 million in cap space.
Metropolitan Division – Leo Komarov (NYI)
With one year remaining on his four-year deal, a buyout would save the cap-strapped Isles $1.4 million in cap space. Anthony DeAngelo (NYR), the stipulation that a buyout for a player under the age of 26 costs only one-third of the player’s salary divided over double the length of the contract. The Rangers will save over $4.4 million by buying out the final year of DeAngelo’s two-year deal.
Central Division – Connor Murphy (CHI)
In spite of the retirement of Brent Seabrook and likely departure of Duncan Keith, the Hawks may see a buyout of Murphy’s final year as an opportunity to save over $2.6 million in cap space in 2021-22. Calvin de Haan (CHI), same goes for the oft-injured de Haan, who Chicago would save $3.6 million with a buyout.
Pacific Division – Olli Maatta (LAK)
The former Hawk had four assists in 41 games last season making just over $4 million (with salary retained by Chicago). If the Kings buyout his final year, they would save $2.2 million this year. Martin Jones (SJ), the 31-year-old goalie has been in steady decline, but with three years left at $5.75 million per season, a buyout would range from 1.66 – 2.9 million and stretch over six seasons. Mikko Koskinen (EDM), the 32-year-old had a .500 record and dismal save percentage last season and lost his job to veteran Mike Smith. A buyout of the final year of his three-year deal would save the Oilers $3 million next season.