Carolina Hurricanes Have Limited Candidates For Contract Buyout

Carolina Hurricanes v Columbus Blue Jackets
Carolina Hurricanes v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

June 15th is this Saturday and the Florida Panthers have a commanding 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals. The NHL Buyout period begins 48 hours after the Stanley Cup has been awarded or June 15th. Whichever occurs the latest starts the fun. It is looking more likely that we will have to wait till a champion is crowned. The Carolina Hurricanes have limited candidates for a buyout.

Of course, the first step of buying out a player is to place them on waivers for contract termination. That will begin this week and start the speculation of who is next and where these players will be come the fall.

A player like Oliver Ekman-Larsson could win a Stanley Cup shortly but had been a buyout of the Vancouver Canucks. It adds value to the free agent market and salary cap relief to organizations.

The situation in Carolina is that so many players are without contracts, and the players with contracts are few. Those remaining players with contracts are core pieces with recent extensions as well.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi

This is the first name that everyone thinks of when a buyout is mentioned for Carolina. An epic failure to this point after signing a massive contract from Don Waddell. Waddell doubled down on the youngster after signing him to an offer sheet from Montreal.

Yes, Kotkaniemi is just 23 years old but he has six years in the league and almost 400 regular season games under his belt. This past season he took a step backwards in production and was barely playing 9 minutes a game.

The former third overall draft choice has shown the skill that made him take that high but the consistency has never followed that skill. 43 points and 18 goals were the career high for Kotkaniemi and that was the prior season. He followed that up with a dud of 27 points in 79 games while playing for a contender.

If he wasn't signed for the next 30 years(warning of a joke), it would not be that hard to be patient. However, he is signed for the remainder of the 2020's and this team could use the salary cap space. A cap hit of $4.82 million a season on a player who does not produce much is going to hinder this organization's aspirations of a Stanley Cup.

Ultimately, I feel that the young Fin has trade value but Eric Tulsky will need to get creative and create a package or cover some of the salary.

Brent Burns

This is a bit of a stretch but he is an older player and it might save Brett Pesce from leaving the organization. Burns only has one year left on his deal so the cap hit will not kill them in the next few years. His salary cap hit this year will be $2.58 million.

Not a terrible salary, nor a player, but with Dmitry Orlov and Jaccob Slavin commanding $13,050,000 next season, the Canes need half of their defensive group filled. The likelihood of keeping Brady Skjei, Jalen Chatfield, and Pesce is nearly impossible with the existing salaries on the blue line.

If a player on defense should be considered a buyout option, it is Orlov and not Burns. Orlov was a failure for his contract in the first year and like Burns has one year remaining on his deal. The issue is that Burns is older and slowing down whereas Orlov could rebound after his first season in Raleigh.

I do not believe that Burns is being considered for a buyout by management but his age and contract make it an option. The one reason to buy out Burns would be as a sacrifice to retain younger assets like Pesce and Chatfield while having room to work in other areas.