The pandemic has already caused havoc on so many businesses and industries, and it will soon impact some NHL superstars. Once the NHL and NHLPA pass a new CBA that does not raise the cap ceiling for several seasons, many teams will be forced to find that cap space in other ways.
Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers’ salary cap issues
One team that would be the poster child for being negatively impact by the cap ceiling not going up are the New York Rangers. After deciding to keep Chris Kreider to the tune of $6.5 million, the Rangers made their available cap money for restricted free agents a lot less.
Keeping unrestricted free agent Jesper Fast at this point is out of the question. He will more than likely hit the open market. General Manager Jeff Gorton has to do everything in his power to keep players like Ryan Strome, Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux and Alexandar Georgiev. This means he will have to make the tough decision to buyout Henrik Lundqvist.
For those who think the Rangers can trade him, the contenders that may be interested will have the same cap problems. Retaining half his salary won’t do much to move the needle, either.
The savings from a buyout would only be $3 million off his current $8.5 milloin cap hit. That would leave the Rangers with $5.5 million in dead cap space next season and a penalty of $1.5 million off the their cap in 2021-22. Sadly, there will not be any compliance buyouts for full cap relief. And while the savings are meager, it may be the only way to field a full and competitive lineup next season.
Other big name NHL players who may get bought out
A look around the league shows other top older players who may be prime candidates for a buyout. Take for instance the cap strapped Chicago Blackhawks who will look to buyout defenseman Brent Seabrook’s $6.9 million contract.
Another player who could find himself an unrestricted free agent is Calgary Flames forward, Milan Lucic. He has a cap hit of $6 million but is under performing so badly that the Flames would love to use that cash elsewhere.
The bottom line is simple. There are about a dozen more players across the NHL landscape that could be candidates for a buyout. Many of these players if bought out will take that buyout money and sign for a fraction of their current salary on a contender.
Once the Stanley Cup is awarded and the offseason officially begins, the NHL landscape will change. Teams are going to look very different and many older superstars will be wearing new threads.