Every offseason, some teams are motivated to clear salary off the books or give one or two players a fresh start.
Many times it’s because a club is in a cap crunch and they can’t address critical offseason needs until they create flexibility. In other cases, a player simply may not be a fit with the team anymore, with both parties benefitting from a potential change of scenery.
This summer is no different — there are plenty of contracts teams will consider shipping out. We covered a big chunk of those names last week in our list of buyout candidates which included the likes of Kailer Yamamoto, Mike Reilly, Mikael Granlund, Matt Murray, Anthony Mantha, Marco Scandella, Conor Garland and Brock Boeser. Teams will scour the trade market for exit options on these types of players before they consider the buyout route.
But there are more inefficient contracts teams could consider jettisoning this offseason. We’ve compiled a list of them. There will be vast differences in how overpriced the different contracts on the list are and how easy they’ll be to move respectively.
Many of these contracts will require retention or the addition of a sweetener to offload. Other contracts will only be slightly overpriced in which case the team probably won’t be willing to retain or add assets, but will offer the player up for a negligible or virtually free price.
In all of these cases, the similarity will be that the player is making a bit more money than ideal, or the team’s in a crunch where the skater’s cap hit is a luxury. Here are some of those players (besides the ones already mentioned in the buyout candidates piece) to keep an eye on.
Victor Olofsson, Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres, who ranked third in the NHL for goals scored this past season, were the only team that missed the playoffs despite ranking top 12 in goals scored.
Buffalo is an elite offensive team that needs to do a better job defensively of preventing goals against. Upgrading the top four and goaltending will be the most impactful way to help that cause. But the situation also shines a spotlight on Victor Olofsson.
Olofsson is a one-dimensional goal scorer with major defensive warts making $4.75 million through next season. He scored 28 goals but only added 12 assists and his all-around game was so poor that he was healthy scratched for a handful of Buffalo’s most important games during the final month of the season.
Buffalo’s forward group is crowded, so shipping Olofsson out could open up a roster spot for a more complete forward while carving out even more cap space to upgrade the back end or goaltending. Olofsson’s high-end goal scoring still has value and the Sabres are already flush with cap space, so they won’t be desperate to get rid of him, but he is a logical trade candidate.
Josh Bailey, New York Islanders
Josh Bailey didn’t appear in a single playoff game for the Islanders after a disappointing season where he only notched eight goals and 25 points. The playoff healthy scratches speak volumes because coaches will rarely sit an expensive veteran player regardless of performance.
Bailey, 33, is entering the final year of his deal on a $5 million cap hit. New York, meanwhile, projects to have only $5.33 million in cap space this summer with the need to find a backup and replace (or re-sign) Scott Mayfield and Pierre Engvall. That means the Islanders don’t have any flexibility right now to meaningfully improve the roster.
Trading Bailey’s contract would give them a significant boost. The right winger’s value has diminished to where the Islanders would have to pay a team like Chicago or Arizona to get off the deal. It wouldn’t be cheap and the Islanders aren’t exactly rich with assets. Bailey’s only owed $3.5 million in actual cash so that should make a potential trade a little easier.