Holtby, Jones, Neal on unconditional waivers for buyout purposes

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The first NHL buyout window of the offseason is now closed and Braden Holtby, Martin Jones, and James Neal were the final three players placed on unconditional waivers.

Once all three clear on Wednesday they will be unrestricted free agents with the market opening.

Braden Holtby

Holtby will remain on the Canucks’ cap for two seasons, with the team being charged $500,000 in 2021-22 and $1.9 million in 2022-23, per Cap Friendly.

Two years after helping the Capitals to the 2018 Stanley Cup, Holtby would move on and sign a two-year, $8.6 million deal with Vancouver. It was a transition move with Thatcher Demko ready to take over the No. 1 job. Things did not go well for the veteran netminder. He started 21 games, finished with an .891 even strength save percentage, and was sandwiched between Carter Hart and Brian Elliott in next-to-last place among goaltenders with at least 1,000 minute at 5-on-5 in goals saved above average (-14.59, per Natural Stat Trick).

This move will open up $3.8 million in cap space for the Canucks ahead of free agency. That will help in re-signing their high-profile restricted free agents Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. (Hughes is not eligible to receive an offer sheet.)

Martin Jones

Jones had played only 34 NHL games before a 2015 NHL Draft trade saw him go from Los Angeles to Boston to San Jose. The following postseason he helped lead the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Final. Things were looking bright! He even signed a six-year, $34.5 million extension in July 2017.

But Jones could not follow up his great first season in San Jose. His even strength save percentage would drop from .924 in 2015-16 to .910 this past season. In 2018-19 and 2019-20, his ESSV% was sub .900, per Evolving Wild.

His resurrection will have to happen somewhere else.

The Sharks’ buyout will remain on their books for six seasons and cost them $10 million. There will be a $1.9 million charge on their salary cap in 2021-22, then it goes up to $2.4 million and $2.9 million the follow two seasons before decreasing to $1.7 million in each of the final three years.

General manager Doug Wilson, who said in May goaltending was an area that needed addressing, acquired Adin Hill from the Coyotes, but added he’ll be on the hunt for a veteran netminder to complete the tandem.

“This was not a decision we made lightly,” Wilson said Tuesday. “It’s never enjoyable to part with someone that to me has been such a big part of our franchise for the past six years.”

James Neal

It feels like forever ago that Neal’s time in Edmonton got off to a roaring start. He scored nine times in his first eight games, including a four-goal game against the Islanders. But the veteran forward would cool off significantly, finishing 2019-20 with 10 goals in the final 47 regular season games before COVID-19 halted the season. This past season was no better, with a mix of healthy scratches and injuries limiting the 33-year-old to five goals and 10 points in 29 games.

The Oilers will pay Neal $7.67 million to buy out his deal and will have a $1.9 million cap charge through 2024-25. They now have a little under $13 million in salary cap space, according to Cap Friendly.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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