The tight salary cap this season has cost several NHL players on expensive contracts their jobs. The last day for teams to start the process of buying out players is Thursday. That triggered a flurry of moves among NHL teams looking to shed salary either out of necessity or to create more space to make a run at players when the free agent signing period opens Friday at noon.
Among the players being bought out, some very well could find new opportunities rather quickly as free agents. Here's a list of the players placed on waivers Thursday for the purpose of buying out their contracts, per TSN's Bob McKenzie :
Matt Carle, D, Tampa Bay Lightning: With the Lightning re-signing Steven Stamkos Wednesday and others like Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn awaiting new deals as restricted free agents, Carle always looked like a good candidate for a buyout. With a $5.5 million cap hit for the next two years, it would have been impossible for the Bolts to justify hanging on to him, especially when Carle occasionally ended up as a healthy scratch last season. By buying out Carle, the Lightning will get over $3.6 million in additional cap space this season and next, but absorb a $1.83 million cap hit for the next four seasons.
The good news for Carle is that he still has the ability to play at the NHL level and will be entering a weak free-agent market for defensemen. Though injuries have slowed him, he still has good puck-moving skills and could be a good, cheap addition to fill out defensive depth for various teams. He only had nine points in 64 games last year, but still should have some value in a role where he can be carefully deployed.
Dennis Seidenberg, D, Boston Bruins: The Bruins will be able to clear over $2.8 million in cap space this year and $1.8 million next season instead of carrying the full $4 million cap hit remaining on Seidenberg's contract. Injuries and age have really taken their toll on Seidenberg more recently. He was sensational in a top-four role during Boston's Cup run in 2011, but struggled last season while appearing in 61 games. He had 12 points.
The Bruins jettisoning Seidenberg's contract only confirms what has been widely known for a while. This team is looking for defensemen. Maybe it comes via trade or maybe it comes via free agency, but the Bruins have a boat load of cap space with Torey Krug still to re-sign. They have at least some flexibility to make some splashier moves if there are any out there.
Like Carle, Seidenberg hits a weaker market and has that valued Stanley Cup experience to help attract suitors. He could still be a top-four blueliner for some teams.
Lauri Korpikoski, F, Edmonton Oilers: A depth winger with only two really notable seasons, both with the Arizona Coyotes, Korpikoski might be a good cheap addition for a team looking for some veteran depth help. In buying him out, the Oilers free up $2 million in cap space for the 2016-17 season as they look to be a player in free agency Friday.
Matt Greene, D, Los Angeles Kings: With two years remaining on his contract, the Kings are shedding one of their former leaders and a player that helped bring two Stanley Cups to Los Angeles. Greene was only able to play in three games all of last season and has been somewhat injury plagued in three of the last four years. The Kings will be saving over $1.6 million against the cap in each of the next two seasons. If Greene is healthy, a team might be able to get him for an affordable rate on a short-term deal.
Barret Jackman, D, Nashville Predators: After adding P.K. Subban and his $9 million cap hit Wednesday, the Predators got some extra flexibility against their cap by ditching Jackman's contract for $1.3 million in cap savings. The veteran defenseman played in a bottom pairing role last year, but Nashville had younger players that can fill that role cheaper next season. Jackman joins Eric Nystrom as another of the Predators bought out.
Jared Boll, F, Columbus Blue Jackets: With his role significantly declined, Boll was probably an easy option for a buyout for the Jackets. He appeared in just 30 games last season and has only 62 points in 518 games. Over that span, he racked up 1,195 penalty minutes, though. The cap-strapped Blue Jackets now have an extra $1.13 million taken off their cap with the Boll buyout.
UPDATE: The Hurricanes announced just before the 5 p.m. ET deadline that they were buying out defenseman James Wisniewski.
James Wisnieski, D, Carolina Hurricanes: A mere 47 seconds into his first game with the Carolina Hurricanes on opening night, Wisniewski went down with a season-ending ACL injury. Now the team is buying out the remaining year on his contract. The Hurricanes will save $2 million against the cap this season, while carrying an extra $1 million against the cap in 2017-18. The team would have been paying Wisniewski too much for a role that had already been filled by younger defensemen that will figure more prominently into Carolina's future plans.
Assuming he is fully rehabbed from the injury, Wisniewski could potentially bring some value as a free agent on a short-term deal. He had 34 points in 69 games in 2014-15 and 51 points the year before that. The oft-injured defenseman has been effective when healthy. It's just been hard to stay healthy.