The clock is ticking. The calculator buttons are being smashed in front offices. With the Stanley Cup Final set to begin on Saturday, the NHL’s first buyout window of the offseason will begin the latter of June 15 or 48 hours after Lord Stanley is hoisted. Teams will have approximately two weeks to deliberate, as the buyout window closes at 5 o’clock on June 30.

Teams likely won’t know next season’s salary cap figures until the week of the Draft in Nashville, adding a wrinkle of chaos to the calculus.

Will it go up by the prescribed $1 million? Or will the NHL and NHL Players’ Association negotiate on a larger increase that will smooth out a large jump in one year’s time once the pandemic debt from players to owners is paid off early next season?

Last summer, seven players were bought out of their deals. This year, the pool doesn’t seem as deep. Yes, plenty of teams want to move off problematic contracts, but in some cases the buyout is either too long or too punitive, or both. In that case, it might be easier to cut their losses and spend an asset or two to trade away the player. Or try to make it through one more season before ripping off the band aid.