Lightning buys out veteran defenseman Matt Carle's contract
Veteran defenseman Matt Carle is being bought out by the Lightning, giving the team much-needed cap relief as it tries to sign other restricted free agents.
Carle, 31, was Tampa Bay's highest paid defenseman last season at $5.5 million, but his role was declining, often a healthy scratch, including in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. His buyout would save $3.67 million off the cap the next two seasons, his buyout spread out over the next four at $1.833 cap hit each season.
With the emergence of prospect Slater Koekkoek, who got key playing time in the playoffs, he should get a shot at cracking the top-six/seven next season, along with Nikita Nesterov, who is a restricted free agent.
After captain Steven Stamkos' eight-year, $68 million contract signed yesterday, the Lightning had just over $9 million in cap space remaining for next season, per generalfanager.com. The Carle buyout provides more cushion, needed as the Lightning needs to resign RFAs like Nikita Kucherov, who is due a big raise from $700,000, Alex Killorn and Vladislav Namestnikov.
Carle had signed a six-year, $33 million deal back in 2012. He had two goals and seven assists in 64 games last season. As tough as it was for Carle to be a healthy scratch, he handled the situation like a pro, never complaining. That paid off as Carle played a big role early in the playoffs as Victor Hedman's partner with Anton Stralman hurt.
Carle, on buyout waivers, will be an unrestricted free agent Friday at noon.