The Tampa Bay Lightning have used a compliance buyout to get rid of the final season of Ryan Malone’s seven-year, $31.5 million contract, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The 34-year-old forward is coming off of a rough campaign where he suffered a fractured ankle in November and finished with just five goals and 15 points in 57 games. He’s also facing charges of DUI and cocaine possession, for which he’s pleaded not guilty.
The Lightning’s decision to buy him out might go beyond what Malone did in 2013-14 though. The team is reportedly on the verge of signing forward Ryan Callahan to a five or six year contract that’s projected to come with a cap hit in excess of $5.5 million, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie. Getting Malone’s $4.5 million cap hit off the books would go a long way towards minimizing the short-term impact of that signing.
Assuming the report is true, Malone’s tenure with the Lightning lasted six seasons. Pittsburgh dealt him and Gary Roberts to Tampa Bay back in the summer of 2008 in exchange for a third-round pick (which became Ben Hanowski). Malone has 179 goals and 370 points in 641 career games.
Update: The Lightning have made Malone’s buyout official.