First up is the NHL’s first buyout period.
Buyouts can start as soon as 24 hours after the Stanley Cup is awarded – even prior to the first beers being chugged at the winner’s parade.
Players possessing full no-movement clauses may elect not to be placed on waivers and go straight to unrestricted free agency. Those without full NMC’s must go through the waiver process and wait until noon the following day to learn their fate. Unrestricted free agency also beckons for these players.
There were 10 contracts bought out after the 2020 campaign, of which seven players ended up signing elsewhere. Forwards Alexander Wennberg and Bobby Ryan found some modicum of success with their new clubs. Wennberg had a bounce-back season pocketing a career-high 17 goals in 56 games with the Panthers after being released from the Blue Jackets. While Ryan started quickly with the Red Wings, notching four goals in his first three games. However, the 34-year old would compile only 10 more points over his next 30 games, prior to shutting down his season due to injury.
And of course, there was goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, signed by the Capitals after being bought out by the Rangers. Unfortunately, fans of the “King” never got to see Lundqvist stop pucks in a Caps uniform. The 39-year old was diagnosed with a heart ailment that required surgery.
With the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft looming July 21, it’ll be interesting how teams handle the contracts of potential buyouts.
Will clubs choose to buy out players with NMC’s in order to keep another asset on their Protected Roster List? Or will they hold on to those with a high cap hit in the hope the Kraken takes the contract off their hands?
Clubs may also opt to negotiate a trade with Kraken General Manager Ron Francis or alternate team – adding a sweetener such as a prospect or draft pick rather than buying out a specific player.
If NHL GM’s follow what occurred in June 2017 when the Vegas Golden Knights selected their roster, the majority of buyouts will be completed post-Expansion Draft. Eleven of the 14 contracts at that time were bought out within three days prior to the July 1 Free Agent Frenzy.
Here are several buyout candidates:
Tony DeAngelo D – New York Rangers
The Rangers placed DeAngelo on waivers on January 31 for disciplinary reasons. At the time GM Jeff Gorton said the outspoken DeAngelo would never again play for the club. This won’t change under incoming GM Chris Drury’s regime. In 2019-20, the 25-year old posted 53 points (15 goals, 38 assists) in 68 games. If DeAngelo can reign in his emotions, he can add some much-needed offense from the back end to any club.
Salary Remaining – $5.3M Buyout Cost – $1.76M Cap Hit – 2021-22 $383,334, 2022-23 $883,334
Jake Gardiner D – Carolina Hurricanes
Waived last season, Gardiner has a history of back issues and has two years remaining on his four-year deal with a $4.05M cap hit. Known as an offensive d-man, the Minnesota native recorded only eight helpers in 26 games this past season. Buying out Gardiner would go along way in assisting with cap relief. The Hurricanes currently posses almost $30M in space. However, the club likely won’t spend to the close to the $81M ceiling, and still need to sign RFA’s Warren Foegele and more importantly Andrei Svechnikov. Clearing space may also keep the team in the running to re-sign D Dougie Hamilton.
Salary Remaining – $8.65M Buyout Cost – $5.76M Cap Hit – 2021-22 $1.29M, 2022-23 $1.04M, 2023-24, 2024-25 $1.44M
Milan Lucic F – Calgary Flames
It’s no secret the Flames are looking to re-jig their roster this offseason. The club has $14M in cap space to spend, but can save $1.7M and more in future seasons if they buy out the 35-year old. Lucic for his part has already agreed to waive his NMC, making him available for the Expansion Draft. However, if the Kraken chooses not to pick up Lucic, the hulking forward immediately becomes potential buyout fodder.
Salary Remaining – $3.5M Buyout Cost – $2.33M Cap Hit – 2021-22 $3.57M, 2022-23 $4.88M, 2023-24, 2024-25 $510,416
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Tyler Johnson F – Tampa Bay Lightning
Shocker, the Lightning are already $5M above next season’s salary cap. GM Julien BriseBois has his work cut out for him. It all starts with Johnson. The Lightning GM will do his utmost to send the Cup Final Game 3 hero to the Kraken by any means necessary. Failing to do so will result in a buyout this time around for the Washington State-born center.
Salary Remaining – $14M Buyout Cost – $9.33M Cap Hit – 2021-22 $1.05M, 2022-23 $2.8M, 2023-24 $1.8M, 2024-25, 2025-26, 2026-27 $1.55M
T.J. Oshie F – Washington Capitals
Similar to Johnson in Tampa, Oshie is in the position with the Caps. The Mount Vernon, WA born forward still has four years remaining on his contract, but most of it all, it features a $5.75M cap hit, something the team needs to lower. The Capitals may attempt to move Evgeny Kuznetsov and his $7.8M hit – barring this, Oshie becomes a buyout candidate, that is the 34-year old isn’t a Kraken July 21.
Salary Remaining – $12.5M Buyout Cost – $8.33M Cap Hit – 2021-22 $3.79M, 2022-23 $4.29M, 2023-24 $2.79M, 2024-25 $3.79 2025-26, 2026-27, 2027-28, 2028-29 $1.04M
Zach Parise F – MInnesota Wild
There were murmurs the Wild would buy out or trade Parise last season. While this never came to fruition, the Wild are certainly in Protection purgatory when it comes to the Expansion Draft. The team may wish to protect four d-men, and Parise owns a full NMC. GM Bill Guerin will need to buy out the remaining four years of Parise’s 13-year deal in order not lose a significant piece off the Wild roster.
Salary Remaining – $10M Buyout Cost – $6.66M Cap Hit – 2021-22 $2.37M, 2022-23 $6.37M, 2023-24, 2024-25 $7.37M, 2025-26, 2026-27, 2027-28, 2028-29 $833,33
Other buyout candidates include:
Leo Komarov (Islanders), Mikko Koskinen, James Neal (Oilers), James Van Riemsdyk (Flyers), Mats Zuccarello (Wild)
Note all calculations courtesy of Cap Friendly and Puckpedia. Some contracts include payable bonuses. These bonuses are not inclusive to salary remaining when determining Buyout Cost.