The Tampa Bay Lightning have executed their buyout to rid themselves of the $5.5 million contract of Lightning defenseman Matt Carle.
The Tampa Bay Lightning shocked a good part of the hockey world when they were able to re-sign Lightning captain Steven Stamkos to an $8.5 million a year deal for the next eight years. While this may be one of the best signings the Lightning have made in quite some time, the money for this deal simply did not appear out of thin air.
Something was going to have to be cut if the Lightning is to re-sign other critical names on their off-season list. This includes players like Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn, Vladislav Namestnikov, and more. The biggest question making its way around the Bolts Nation yesterday was what could possibly be done in order for Steve Yzerman to keep the team mostly intact. Now, it seems as if we have our answer.
According to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, the Tampa Bay Lightning have executed their buyout to clear the contract of Lightning defenseman Matt Carle. We wish we could say we didn’t see this one coming, but the writing has been on the wall for quite some time. It has been more of a matter of when than if.
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Just over two weeks ago, we posted an article that detailed Carle as the team’s likely buyout candidate this season. At $5.5 million per year, Carle was the highest paid defenseman on the team with the team’s least production. Does this make Carle a “bad” player? Certainly not. However, what it does mean is he is not worth the $5.5 million cap hit to the team, which is why we find ourselves here today.
Out of the seven defensemen on the Tampa Bay Lightning who played at least half of the games last season, Matt Carle ranked in 6th place of the defensemen on the team in terms of hits. Matt Carle certainly looked a little better when it came to the 91 blocked shots he made over the course of the season. Unfortunately, this isn’t near the 105 and 132 blocked shots registered by Jason Garrison and Victor Hedman respectively.
As we mentioned in our previous article, in the season that preceded this one Matt Carle brought home fewer hits than former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer. Almost anyone who has been watching the Tampa Bay Lightning over the course of the last few seasons remembers Eric Brewer. Prior to being traded away, he was one of the single most admonished players on the team by Lightning fans.
These stats really say something. Unfortunately, it’s not a very nice conversation.
Now that the Tampa Bay Lightning have made the situation official, let’s take another look at how this move pays off for the Bolts. After buying out the contract of a player, the team is only responsible for 2/3 if the remaining salary owed on the contract. This means the Lightning owe Matt Carle around $7.3 million.
On the bright side, this money can be spread out over twice the remaining time on his current deal. As there are two seasons left on Carle’s contract, the $7.3 million can be spread out over the next four seasons. This makes Carle’s cap hit to the Tampa Bay Lightning a mere $1.83 million per year. This is a big difference from the $5.5 million they were faced with previously.
While we have no issues with Matt Carle on a personal level, the move the Tampa Bay Lightning made this afternoon is, in fact, what is best for business. With defensemen like Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman performing at such a high level and players in the developmental system like Slater Koekkoek who are fighting tooth and nail for a spot on the main roster, there weren’t many options available for the Lightning.
This means that as of tomorrow afternoon, Matt Carle will hit the Free Agency Market. It will be interesting to see if another team picks him up, and if so, how he will fit into their system and what kind of money they’ll have to lay out to acquire him.
As we have said many times before, we wish Matt Carle nothing but the best as he embarks on the next stage of his National Hockey League journey. We certainly wish the parting could have been on better terms, but at the end of the day, the great sport of hockey is a business above all else. Sometimes, decisions have to be made for the greater good of the team.
As the old saying goes, the logo on the front of the jersey far outweighs the name and number on the back of the jersey. This saying holds true whether your name is Steven Stamkos or someone as new as the Tampa Bay Lightning’s most recent draft pick Brett Howden.