With the NHL salary cap projected to go up only marginally, clubs may resort to using the buyout option on existing contracts as a means of cap relief. The buyout window opens on Friday and lasts until June 30. The 32 clubs have to make some difficult decisions and likely have already selected which players to buy out.
Here is a look at the eight Metropolitan Division clubs and who each of them may choose:
GM Don Waddell does not have a bad contract on the books after the expiration of Jake Gardiner’s deal (on LTIR for the last two years). Carolina has avoided long-term commitments for the most part, but that will have to change in the next two years when most of their core group’s deals are set to expire.
Columbus Blue Jackets
GM Jarmo Kekalainen has been busy even before the end of the playoffs upgrading his blueline for new head coach Mike Babcock and reportedly is not done tinkering with his roster. With less than $6 million in available cap space, the Jackets may look for ways to open up more room. Kuraly (through two years of a four-year, $10 million deal) scored only 11 goals in 71 games last season and if bought out of the last two years of his deal, it would clear more than $2 million next season and $1.52 million in 2024.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils have the most available cap space of any team that made the playoffs last season, so the buyout option likely will not be used, but if GM Tom Fitzgerald did go that way, the 34-year-old Smith would be the candidate. At $1.1 million next season, a buyout would clear $800,000 in a year that the cap is expected to go up $1 million at the most.
New York Islanders
The 33-year-old has dropped off last season offensively, scoring only eight goals in 64 games. GM Lou Lamoriello indicated earlier this month that he would try to accommodate Bailey by moving him elsewhere, but the Islanders would have to sweeten the pot significantly to get a team to take on his $5 million cap hit. A buyout would clear $2.3 million next season.
New York Rangers
The odd structure of his six-year, $21.85 million deal makes the chances of Goodrow being bought out an attractive possibility. The cap hit would be spread out over eight seasons, but in the first two, the Rangers would actually get a small credit on the cap. In five of the six remaining years, the cap hit would be between $1.1 to $1.25 million, with one season at $3.65 million.
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The signing of Deangelo has to be deemed an error by former GM Chuck Fletcher since the well-traveled blueliner was healthy scratched by John Tortorella for multiple games at the end of the season. A buyout of the final year of his two-year, $10 million deal would save the Flyers $3.3 million, but they might be able to find takers for the 27-year-old if they retain half of his $5 million salary.
Acquired from Nashville at the deadline, Granlund was a puzzling acquisition that was highlighted when GM Ron Hextall was fired after the season. New boss Kyle Dubas could choose the buyout route for the 31-year-old, and open up more than $4 million in cap space next season, and $3.1 million in 2024.
A talented but enigmatic forward, Mantha scored only 11 goals last season making $5.7 million. Buying out the final year of his four-year, $22.8 million deal will open up $4.2 million in cap space.