Different ways exist when approaching buyout candidates. Just because something looks good on paper does not mean it is. Think of it as sort of a good idea and bad idea scenario. This is not an easy process. Division wise, let’s break down the numbers using the CapFriendly buyout calculator.
Popular Buyout Candidates – Atlantic Division
Not Really Practical: David Backes – Center
David Backes falls in the category of good buyout candidate in theory. He makes $6 million a year, is 34-years old, and has three years left on his deal. However, there is a problem. When the center has been healthy, he has excellent metrics (+4% above average). His season was derailed with diverticulitis (missed 25 games total). Backes showed the ability to keep up with Boston’s pace when he was in the lineup. His shots and offensive chances have not dropped off. Backes remains a vital cog.
Not Practical: David Krejci – Center
Krejci puzzles people by how he just cannot stay healthy. It must be something in Boston. Boston reduced his role a bit last season and it did pay off dividends. Less than 17 minutes a night seems ideal for the center. His shots per game dropped off a hair but chances remain steady and so did the possession metrics. Even at $7.25 million and 32-years old, Kreci looms large in Boston’s plans for now.
Practical: Matt Moulson – Right Wing
Moulson performed so dismally that he was loaned to Los Angeles’ AHL affiliate to be closer to home. Moulson loitered as a fourth line forward time on ice wise the previous two seasons. He had no points in 14 games for Buffalo in 2017-18 before the demotion. Moulson remains an easy buyout candidate as the savings ($1.33 million) is still above the burial cost. Would Moulson catch on with another team at 34? Perhaps, he might get a PTO but that is about it.
Not Practical: Zach Bogosian – Defense
Several buyout candidates exist in Buffalo because of modified no trade clauses, etc. On the other hand, Bogosian’s injury history is concerning but Buffalo’s defense is so porous that he is needed even with drafting Rasmus Dahlin.
Detroit Red Wings
Practical: Jonathan Ericsson – Defense
Ericsson performed at an okay level last season considering his 38% offensive zone deployment. The problem is he is 34, making $4.25 million for two more years, and Detroit needs to save money. Can Detroit find a replaceable defenseman around $1.42 million a season? The answer is likely yes. The initial savings of around $5.7 million for the first two years is enticing enough. There may be better candidates, but Ericsson is quite practical. It does allow Detroit to get younger and faster.
Not Practical: Niklas Kronwall – Defense
Kronwall contractually has one more year and is buyout is less than most think. The savings for one year ($1.17 million) is barely above burial. Also, with sheltered minutes, Kronwall enjoyed a decent season that wasn’t all that terrible.
Practical: Jamie McGinn – Left Wing
McGinn bounced back well but does he dip backwards again. The left winger scored 13 goals and had 29 points while playing mostly third line minutes. His possession metrics were around -5% to team relative. The savings for 2018-19 would be $2.33 million. That may be enticing enough considering the holes Florida has to fill. It may not be the most popular buyout. On the other hand, replacement value is to be had.
Not Practical: Mark Pysyk — Defense
Pysyk’s contract has two years left at reasonable dollars. He is a second or third pairing defenseman with decent metrics. His offensive start numbers are around 43% and usually sees tougher defensive deployments. Pysyk shows a little offense here and there as his shots and chances ticked upward last season.
Not Really Practical: Karl Alzner — Defense
Alzner plays average on defense which is not great for a player making $4.625 million a year. On the other hand, his year was not terrible given what was surrounding Alzner. Carey Price injured, Shea Weber injured, and Max Pacioretty missing in action did not help matters for him or Montreal. The surrounding cast was a careening train wreck toward the number three overall pick. This year may be more telling of Alzner’s future in Montreal.
Not Practical: Jeff Petry — Defense
Petry performed not as poorly as fans made him out. He managed 42 points and 12 goals on a goal-starved Montreal team. Could he have been better? Sure. With what was surrounding him, that was a problem. Petry stepped into an impossible role and played well enough. For those wondering about Andrew Shaw, his career really is one concussion away from ending. Stay tuned.
Practical: Marian Gaborik – Left Wing
Gaborik could never stay healthy. He is about a point every other game type of player playing third line minutes. The metrics failed him in Ottawa from more of an even strength standpoint. Honestly, Ottawa could just call someone up or trade for a player at this point. That would be at or above replacement value over a 36-year-old forward. Ottawa has several candidates in all honesty because of lack of trade practicality.
Not As Practical: Bobby Ryan – Left Wing
Ryan qualifies as the standard pariah of the Ottawa offense for better or for worse. His $7.25 million salary dictates this fact. Trade potential mitigates a buyout and almost makes it moot. Until a transaction like that happens, the speculation will continue, however.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Practical: Ryan Callahan – Right Wing
Callahan enters 2018-19 with two years left on his contract. Five goals in 67 games included just over 100 shots and bottom-six ice time. Could Callahan be traded? Not likely. This is because the winger has a modified no-trade and no-movement clause. The ice time is not going up anytime soon nor is his offensive acumen. He is a defensive forward carrying a $5.8 million cap hit ($4.7 million in salary). Tampa Bay needs cap space and Callahan would be a prime candidate. Do they buyout an assistant captain is the only question?
Not Practical: Tyler Johnson – Center
Johnson disappeared for stretches in the playoffs and that had some in the media and fanbase speculating. Johnson possesses 50-60 point ability and is only making $5 million. The no-trade clause is a bit daunting when it kicks in but honestly, a buyout is not happening.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Practical: Matt Martin – Left Wing
Martin plays around eight minutes a night. For that alone, couldn’t Toronto bring almost anyone up to take his place at a fraction of the cost? He earns $2.5 million AAV for the next two seasons. This Lou Lamoriello move was a stopgap to instill some physicality in the Toronto lineup but his usefulness there has long past. It seems there are few takers as far as a trade. The next logical step would be a buyout.
Not Practical: Jake Gardiner – Defense
Gardiner quieted some critics this year by again playing well and tallying 52 points (five goals). He played over 22 minutes a night. Despite a nightmarish playoff, Toronto will not buy out the defenseman even with one year left on his contract at $4.05 million.