After Stamkos re-signs, Bolts buy out Carle

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Tampa Bay signed one of the biggest contracts in franchise history on Wednesday, retaining captain Steve Stamkos with an eight-year, $68 million extension.

Now, for the aftermath.

Facing serious cap concerns, the Bolts have elected to buy out the remainder of Matt Carle‘s contract, per Sportsnet.

Carle, 31, was Tampa Bay’s highest-paid defenseman this season, despite only playing in 64 games (and just 14 playoff contests). Signed back in 2012 to a big six-year, $33 million deal — in hindsight, one of GM Steve Yzerman’s poorest contracts — Carle had a good first two years with the Lightning, but fell down the depth chart over the last two and was a liability defensively.

In the postseason, he was essentially replaced by rookie blueliner Slater Koekkoek.

Here’s what Tampa’s financial relief will look like with the Carle buyout, per General Fanager:

Carle looked to be a cap casualty for quite some time. Yzerman’s job is nowhere near done, despite locking up a key piece in Stamkos — RFAs Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn and Vladislav Namestnikov all need new contracts, and star defenseman Victor Hedman will be a UFA after next season.

Yzerman also needs to figure out what to do with goalie Ben Bishop, who’s been at the center of trade rumors for months. Bishop is also a UFA after next season, and set to make $5.95M this year.