DeAngelo, Neal, Parise among potential NHL buyouts

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The NHL’s offseason buyout window is open (and runs through July 27) and this offseason certainly brings the possibility of a number of teams to take advantage of that window.

Not only is the NHL salary cap remaining flat at $81.5 million, no doubt creating headaches for a lot of teams that spend to the cap, but there is also the upcoming Seattle expansion draft. Teams will be looking to protect as many key players as possible, and utilizing a buyout on a player with a no-trade or no-move clause could help clean up team protection lists.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few candidates to be bought out over the next few weeks.

Salary cap and buyout information via CapFriendly.

Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild

Salary cap outlook of buyout

2021-22: $2.3 million salary cap hit ($5.166 million savings)
2022-23: $6.371 million salary cap hit ($1.166 million savings)
2023-24: $7.371 million salary cap hit ($166,667 savings)
2024-25: $7.371 million salary cap hit ($166,667 savings)
2025-26: $833,333 salary cap hit
2026-27: $833,333 salary cap hit
2027-28: $833,333 salary cap hit
2028-29: $833,333 salary cap hit

This is a tricky one because while the Wild would get $5 million in salary cap savings this upcoming season, they would get absolutely hammered the three years after that when the cap hit would be $6 million, $7 million, and $7 million respectively. That is the type of salary cap hit you commit to an All-Star and the Wild would have it be going to a player no longer on the roster.

Not ideal.

But the alternative is not really ideal, either. Because if the Wild keep Parise they are still paying more than $7 million to a player over the next four years that is on the downswing of his career and found himself as a healthy scratch this year and in the playoffs.

The Wild could try a salary retention trade, but that would still require them to take on dead salary cap space and also run the risk of being hit with a cap recapture penalty in the future should Parise retire before his contract ends.

It might be worth it in the short-term to buy him out, get the $5 million in salary cap savings for this upcoming season, clear a protection spot in the expansion draft, and have some extra money to re-sign Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala.

James Neal, Edmonton Oilers

Salary cap outlook of buyout

2021-22: $1.916 million salary cap hit ($3.833 million savings)
2022-23: $1.916 million salary cap hit ($3.833 million savings)
2023-24: $1.916 million salary cap hit
2024-25: $1.916 million salary cap hit

The Calgary Flames signed Neal to his current five-year, $28 million contract prior to the 2018-19 season and it has simply not worked out.

The Flames traded him after one brutal year, and now the Oilers look to be on the verge of moving on after two years.

Since signing the contract he has 31 goals in 147 games, with the bulk of those goals (11 of them) coming in one 15-game stretch to open the 2019-20 season.

Buying out his deal would save the Oilers $4 million in cap space in each of the next two seasons, and they will need it to build the depth around Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. They will take a $2 million salary cap hit in the two years following that, but the short-term savings are worth it.

Tony DeAngelo, New York Rangers

Salary cap outlook of buyout

2021-22: $383,334 salary cap hit ($4.416 million savings)
2022-23: $883,334 salary cap hit

The only surprise here might be the fact that the Rangers did not buy him out as soon as the buyout window opened, because it seems to be inevitable.

The Rangers pretty much barred DeAngelo from being around the NHL team following a series of incidents from his reaction to a healthy scratch, to a fight with teammate Alexander Georgiev. His social media presence also became a pretty significant distraction.

There does not seem to be any trade interest so a buyout seems to be the only path.

DeAngelo has been an extremely productive player at a premium position at every level he has played at throughout his career, and has already had three different teams move on from him before his 26th birthday. That should be a significant red flag for any team interested in signing him if (when?) he gets bought out.

The Rangers would save more than $4 million in salary cap space this season.

Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks

Salary cap outlook of buyout

2021-22: $1.916 million salary cap hit ($3.833 million savings)
2022-23: $2.416 million salary cap hit ($3.333 million savings)
2023-24: $2.916 million salary cap hit ($2.833 million savings)
2024-25: $1.667 million salary cap hit
2025-26: $1.667 million salary cap hit
2026-27: $1.667 million salary cap hit

Jones has been one of the league’s least productive goalies for three years now and the Sharks clearly need to address the position in a meaningful way.

His contract (still years three remaining at a salary cap hit of $5.75 million with a no-trade clause no-movement clause) makes him extremely difficult to trade, while a buyout would save the Sharks a couple of million (between two and three million) under the cap over the next three years.

It is the easiest and most sensible move.

Loui Eriksson, Vancouver Canucks

Salary cap outlook of buyout

2021-22: $4 million salary cap hit ($2 million savings)
2022-23: $1 million salary cap hit

This contract just never worked out as expected from the very beginning.

The Canucks gave Eriksson a six-year, $36 million contract and never received more than 11 goals or 29 points in a single season.

He has just one year remaining on the deal, and a buyout would spread the salary cap hit out over the next two seasons.

They would get $2 million in salary cap savings this season and take on $1 million in empty space for the 2022-23 season. Given how tight the Canucks salary cap situation is, as well as the fact they have to re-sign both Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes (two of their best and most important players) this offseason as restricted free agents every bit of added salary cap space will be important.

Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars

Salary cap outlook of buyout

2021-22: $3.249 million salary cap hit ($1.667 million savings)
2022-23: $3.249 million salary cap hit ($1.667 million savings)
2023-24: $833,333 salary cap hit
2024-25: $833,333 salary cap hit

Bishop is still capable of playing at an extremely high level when he is healthy, but did not play at all during the 2020-21 season. The Stars still have Anton Khudobin under contract as a veteran goalie and Jake Oettinger showed a lot of promise as a rookie.

That could make Bishop expendable.

Buying him out would save the Stars $1.6 million against the salary cap in each of the next seasons, before having less than $850,000 in empty space the two years after.

 

Mitch Marner extends Maple Leafs-record points streak to 21 games

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TORONTO — Mitch Marner extended his franchise-record points streak to 21 games with a second-period goal and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-0 on Thursday night.

Marner gave Toronto a 4-0 lead with his 11th goal of the season, scoring on a slap shot after a Los Angeles turnover inside its blue line.

Marner became the 10th player in the past 35 years to string together a streak of 21 or more games. He has 10 goals and 16 assists during the run.

Auston Matthews, Pierre Engvall, David Kampf and William Nylander also scored for Toronto. Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves for his first shutout with the Maple Leafs and the seventh of his career.

Toronto has won seven of eight to improve to 17-5-6.

Los Angeles dropped to 14-11-4 with its seventh loss in 10 games. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made 36 saves.

Penguins’ Kris Letang returns to practice 10 days after stroke

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PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang returned to practice with his teammates just 10 days after suffering the second stroke of his career.

The 35-year-old Letang remains out indefinitely, with the club describing him as “day to day.”

Letang said he felt “pretty good” after being greeted by stick taps from his teammates when he skated onto the ice at the team’s practice facility. Still, the married father of two called the experience “scary,” particularly for his family.

“My kids, they don’t care if I’m a hockey player or not,” he said. “They care about having a dad. Same with my wife. She could care less about hockey. She knows there’s so much more. After hockey, there’s a long time and you want to be able to enjoy those moments with your family, with your kids.”

Letang missed more than two months in 2014 after his first stroke, which was caused by a small hole in the wall of his heart. The condition also led to the second stroke, which Letang suffered on Nov. 28 after dealing with a series of debilitating headaches.

This time, the symptoms have resolved themselves much more quickly, according to team physician Dr. Dharmesh Vyas, who described this stroke as “smaller” than the one Letang endured in 2014.

Letang began skating on his own just two days after the diagnosis and was cleared to return to practice on Thursday though both Letang and Vyas stressed they are in no rush for him to play in games.

“We don’t think this is accelerated in any way,” Vyas said. “We are taking all the right precautions to make sure that it is safe to go out and play and when that time comes we’ll let him go back to playing his sport.”

Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said it was a “relief” to see Letang back at work.

“It’s a great visual that he’s making progress,” Sullivan said. “Our medical team that has monitored him extremely closely feels comfortable with some of the progress that he’s making and the steps he’s taken. Everyone was excited for him to join the group.”

Letang signed a six-year contract extension over the summer that will carry him into his 40s if he decides to play that long. Vyas said the data around strokes is “evolving” though it is unclear if Letang is now more susceptible to having additional strokes now that he’s had a second one.

The six-time All-Star is cautious but optimistic.

“We’ve been through this,” Letang said. “Me and Dharmesh have a clear understanding that we’re going to take all the time we need and make sure the research is possible and it’s no danger for me to keep going.”

The Penguins are 8-1-1 over their last 10 games and have won three straight heading into a home-and-home series with the Sabres. They’re also eager to have Letang’s familiar No. 58 back in the lineup, but only when he’s ready.

“He’s been here for a long time and his experience and everything that he brings on and off the ice, the way he competes (is important),” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “But I think in the (locker) room, (he has) poise and (he’s) somebody who’s been around a long time and whose experience you feel when he’s around.”

Thompson nets 4 in 1st, 5 overall, as Buffalo tops Columbus

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Tage Thompson matched an NHL record by scoring four times in the first period and finished with five goals and an assist as the Buffalo Sabres won their third straight road game, 9-4 over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.

Thompson is the second U.S.-born player to score five goals in a game. He is the fourth player in NHL history to record four goals in the first period of a regular-season game, joining Peter Bondra (1994), Grant Mulvey (1982) and Joe Malone (1921). He is also the fourth active player to score five goals in a game, joining Timo Meier (Jan. 17, 2022), Mika Zibanejad (March 5, 2020) and Patrik Laine (Nov. 24, 2018).

“It’s definitely a rewarding feeling,” Thompson said. “You’ve spent a lot of years working to get to this point and to be rewarded for it is a pretty good feeling and it just leaves you hungrier.”

Thompson’s outburst helped Buffalo score six times in the first 16:40.

“That was an amazing performance by Tage, and really, the whole group set the table,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I thought the energy, the collective effort, the focus to start was really good and enabled that to happen.”

Alex Tuch had a goal and three assists, Dylan Cozens added a power-play goal and two assists and Rasmus Dahlin finished with a goal and two assists. Peyton Krebs also scored. Jeff Skinner picked up four assists and Jacob Bryson had two. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 20 shots.

Patrik Laine and Gustav Nyquist each scored twice for Columbus.

Joonas Korpisalo stopped two shots before being pulled in the first in favor of Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped 15 shots through the second period. Korpisalo returned in the third and finished with six saves.

Columbus has lost six straight home games and five of its last six overall.

“We didn’t have an answer for that one line,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “Tage Thompson just tore us up tonight.”

Buffalo dominated from the puck drop, scoring four goals on its first six shots.

Cozens put the Sabres on the board at 3:21 of the first, 53 seconds into a Blue Jackets penalty, and Thompson made it 2-0 just 2:09 later. Dahlin scored Buffalo’s third goal at 7:28 of the first, driving Korpisalo from the net in favor of Merzlikins, who gave up Buffalo goal No. 4 to Thompson 32 seconds later.

Thompson’s third career hat trick and second of the season came on a power-play goal at 12:22 of the first. He followed with his fourth goal, also on the power play, at 16:40.

Columbus scored two goals in just over a minute, with Laine at 10:49 and Nyquist at 12:04, before Buffalo reeled off three straight in just over three minutes to end the period, including Thompson’s fifth, and goals by Krebs and Tuch.

Laine and Nyquist scored in the third period for Columbus.

STREAKING

Cozens has 12 points in his last five games and is riding a career-best, five-game point streak. Thompson has eight goals and five assists in his last five games and 10 multi-point games. Dahlin has a five-game point and assist streak, and Gaudreau stretched his points streak to six games.

NOTES: The Sabres joined the Kraken as the second team this season to score nine goals in a game. … Thompson is the second player in Buffalo history to have five goals in a game, joining Dave Andreychuk, who had five goals and an assist on Feb. 6, 1986.

UP NEXT

Buffalo: Hosts Pittsburgh on Friday.

Columbus: Hosts Calgary on Friday.

Ovechkin, Strome lead Capitals past struggling Flyers 4-1

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PHILADELPHIA — Alex Ovechkin scored two empty-net goals, Dylan Strome had a goal and an assist and the Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Wednesday night.

T.J. Oshie also scored for the Capitals, who finished 3-3 on a six-game trip. Charlie Lindgren made 29 saves.

Kevin Hayes scored for Philadelphia, which has lost 13 of 15 games. Carter Hart made 23 stops.

Strome broke a 1-all tie with 10:41 remaining when he deflected John Carlson‘s shot from long range past Hart.

Hayes had a golden opportunity to tie it on a Philadelphia power play, but Lindgren made a great right pad save on a try from close range with 8:20 remaining.

Ovechkin iced it, scoring into an empty net with 1:35 left and adding another empty-netter with 8.2 seconds left for his 15th of the season. Ovechkin has 795 career goals, good for third all-time. He is six goals away from tying Gordie Howe for second place. Wayne Gretzky, with 894 goals, tops the list.

Hayes scored his ninth goal of the season for his team-leading 28th point with 4:14 left in the first period to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Hayes rushed to the bench after breaking his stick on a slap shot attempt, and scored on a wrist shot from the high slot with his new stick.

The Flyers had a power-play goal for the third straight game and have four overall in that stretch. Philadelphia, which began play ranked 30th in the NHL in scoring on the man advantage, now has converted 16.7% (14 of 84) of its chances.

Oshie tied it 3:51 into the second on the Capitals’ fourth power play as the Flyers continued to take sloppy penalties. This time, James van Riemsdyk committed Philadelphia’s third tripping minor of the game. Oshie made them pay with his fifth goal of the season when he finished a nifty passing sequence with Strome and Evgeny Kuznetsov with a perfectly placed one-timer over Hart’s left shoulder.

NOTES: Van Riemsdyk returned after missing the last 20 games due to a broken right index finger. . Flyers forward Tanner Laczynski was placed on injured reserve after departing midway through the third period of Monday’s 5-3 win over Colorado with what looked like an injury to his left leg. . Washington was without several injured players, including starting goalie Darcy Kuemper (upper body). Kuemper was with the team, but missed his second in a row. . Carlson had two assists. . Philadelphia’s Cam Atkinson, out all season with an upper body injury, has been practicing and is close to returning.

UP NEXT

Capitals: Host Seattle on Friday night.

Flyers: Open four-game trip at Vegas on Friday night.