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5 players who are top buyout candidates after the 2024 NHL Playoffs

The NHL’s 2024 buyout window will officially open 48 hours after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final.

It’s almost a given that someone in the league will have to opt out of their current contract for one reason or another. This may be for salary cap-related purposes, performance purposes or a combination of both.

No one ever really wants to get to this point, as buyouts can be extremely costly to the team depending on its structure and the extent to which it will impact the future salary cap.

The Minnesota Wild are still paying the price for the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, eating up more than $14 million in salary cap space for players playing elsewhere this season.

With all that said, let’s take a look at five of the more prominent buyout candidates as the Stanley Cup Final kicks off Saturday night.

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The potential of a Dubois buyout largely depends on when the buyout window opens, and whether it is before his 26th birthday on June 24.

If so, the Kings could potentially buy out the remainder of Dubois’ contract at a third of the current price and give them a fairly manageable salary cap hit over the next fourteen years. That may seem outrageous, but the buyout would never result in a dead cap hit of more than $3.8 million in any individual season through 2037-38. It would not exceed $1.6 million over the next two years, resulting in some significant salary cap savings over that time.

The fact that this is even being discussed as a possibility is quite outrageous considering Dubois just signed his eight-year, $68 million contract with the Kings a year ago.

But the first year of that contract was so disastrous performance-wise (just 16 goals, 24 assists and 40 total points in 82 games) that the Kings will almost certainly be looking for a way out of this deal.

They could potentially trade him before July before his no-trade clause kicks in, but that would require another team to be willing to take on that contract.

The buyout can be an extreme measure, but can also make sense if the window opens in time.

If the buyout window opens after June 24, each buyout would result in half the contract value. That is much less advantageous for the Kings and makes a buyout much less likely.

So this really comes down to the timing of the Stanley Cup Final and when the window opens. The Kings may be cheering for a short Stanley Cup Final series here.

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Whether due to a buyout or a trade, it seems extremely unlikely that Johansen will play for the Flyers during the 2024-25 season.

He was acquired as part of a trade deadline deal with Colorado that sent defenseman Sean Walker to the Avalanche, and never actually suited up for the Flyers.

Johansen has a complicated and troubled history with Flyers head coach John Tortorella dating back to their days in Columbus, and it appears time hasn’t buried that hatchet.

He is in the final year of his contract, and a buyout would cost the Flyers just $1.3 million in each of the next two seasons. Given the current state of the team’s rebuild, that wouldn’t be a terrible number to have on the books.

Johansen played in 63 games for the Avalanche in the 2023-2024 season, scoring 10 goals with 13 assists (23 total points) in 63 games. He was a top six at his peak in Columbus and Nashville, but he hasn’t performed at that level in a few years.

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The Sharks are in the midst of a massive rebuild, having jettisoned several prominent players in recent years.

Brent Burns, Timo Meier, Erik Karlsson and Tomas Hertl have all been dealt, and Vlasic is one of the few remaining core players left in San Jose.

He still has a salary cap hit of $7 million per year for the next two seasons, and he simply isn’t performing at that level.

Given his contract, his recent performance, and his trade protection, a trade doesn’t seem like a very realistic option at this point. Especially since the Sharks don’t have any salary retention spots available this season.

That could put a buyout on the table.

A buyout would save the Sharks more than $3 million in salary cap space this season, more than $2 million next season, and leave a marginal dead cap number of just over $1.5 million in each of the two seasons after that. That’s a pretty manageable number for a rebuilding team that isn’t even close to the salary cap.

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Anderson’s seven-year, $38.5 million contract with the Canadiens was one of those deals that seemed like a huge risk at the time, and nothing has changed in the years since it was signed.

He scored just 66 goals in 268 games over four years with the Canadiens, and is coming off a nine-goal, 20-point season in 78 games.

He has three years left on his current contract, and it doesn’t appear to be an easily movable contract.

A buyout would save the Canadiens more than $5 million this upcoming season and $3.2 million next season.

It would ultimately result in a dead cap number of $1.7 million between the 2027-28 and 2029-30 seasons. While that’s not ideal, it also doesn’t pay him $5.5 million per season for the next three seasons to score 10 goals.

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When the Oilers signed Campbell to a five-year, $25 million contract two years ago, the expectation was that he would be the goaltender who would help them get to the Stanley Cup Final.

Well, the Oilers are in the Stanley Cup Final, but that has nothing to do with Campbell’s play.

After a brutal debut season in Edmonton, he was demoted to the American Hockey League for most of the 2023-24 season and now his long-term future with the Oilers appears in doubt.

A buyout could be the most sensible option for Edmonton this season.

The Oilers always have to worry about the salary cap, and a Campbell buyout this offseason would save them $3.9 million next season, $2.7 million the year after that, and then $2.4 million in 2026-27. After that, they would only get a cap hit of $1.5 million per season for three years as part of the buyout.

Whether Stuart Skinner is the long-term answer or not, it’s pretty clear that Campbell won’t be that player either. There probably isn’t much of a trade market that doesn’t involve another unwanted contract, so a buyout could be the way to go.

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