With the Stanley Cup Final nearing its conclusion, it’s a good time to look at the top buyout candidates from the NHL’s Pacific Division.
The window for National Hockey League clubs to buyout players opens on July 1 and with the salary cap only going up by $1 million to $82.5 million next season, most general managers may give serious consideration to opening up cap space to make improvements by finding a way to get rid of those not living up to their contracts.
Some clubs who will not be close to the cap limit may serve as drop zones for bad contracts or players on long-term injured reserve, but the majority of the clubs have one or two deals they might be looking to jettison.
We start with a look at the Pacific Division.
Anaheim, Los Angeles, and Seattle
The Ducks are about $18 million (per Cap Friendly) under the cap floor, so more than likely GM Pat Verbeek’s course of action will be to take on a contract or two with short term left.
The Kings do not have an obvious buyout candidate after Jonathan Quick’s resurgence last season and are nearly $20 million under the cap ceiling.
The Kraken did not take on any bad deals in the expansion draft that would necessitate a buyout but could be in the market for taking on a contract and buying it out for a price, similar to Carolina getting a first-round pick from Toronto for buying out Patrick Marleau.
Around Full Press Hockey
Milan Lucic (1 year @ $5.25 million)
The Flames under Darryl Sutter found a use for the big veteran forward, but if they want to sign pending UFA Johnny Gaudreau or extend RFA Matthew Tkachuk, they would save $4.6 million buying out the final year of Lucic’s seven-year, $42 million deal.
Zack Kassian (2 years @ $3.2 million)
The Oilers signed the 31-year-old to a four-year, 12.8 million contract in 2020 after consecutive 15-goal seasons. In the last two years, he has scored only eight times in 85 games and GM Ken Holland must make room to bring in the much-needed upgrade between the pipes.
San Jose Sharks
Marc-Edouard Vlasic (4 years @ $7 million)
The Sharks are overburdened by a number of long-term deals with players over the age of 30. Logan Couture, Brent Burns, and Erik Karlsson (when healthy) are still contributors, but the 35-year-old Vlasic’s speed has declined rapidly over the last few years. With four years left on his contract, a buyout would be on San Jose’s books until the 2029-30 season, with dead money ranging from $1.68 to $5.18 million over the eight years.
Tyler Myers (2 years @ $6 million)
The lanky former Calder Trophy-winning defenseman had just one goal in 82 games last season, but the downside to the Canucks buying him out is that the $5 million signing bonus in the final year of his contract would result in no cap savings in 2023-24 when they need room to extend forwards JT Miller and team captain Bo Horvat.
Vegas Golden Knights
Max Pacioretty (1 year @ $7 million)
The acquisition of the injured Shea Weber from Montreal will help the Golden Knights open up room using LTIR to re-sign pending UFA’s Mattias Janmark and Reilly Smith, but buying out Pacioretty (who scored 19 goals, but missed half a season due to injury) would clear half of his $7 million salary.
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