It’s that time of year again. The year-end awards have been announced, the Stanley Cup has been awarded, and now teams are faced with the task of improving their rosters. Unfortunately, that also means cutting ties with players that haven’t lived up to their contracts, with the NHL buyout period set to open 48 hours after the Stanley Cup Finals.
The LA Kings don’t have many contracts in consideration, but the team will reportedly not be participating in the NHL buyout period.
The Daily Faceoff‘s Frank Seravalli recently published his ten buyout candidates this offseason piece. Of those, he includes Tony DeAngelo of the New York Rangers, James Neal of the Oilers, and Martin Jones of the Sharks. However, he also includes Olli Maatta as an honorable mention.
Despite the report, if the Kings were to buyout Maatta’s final year in Los Angeles, the team would save approximately $2.7M in cap space for the 2021-22 season, carrying a $1.1M cap hit in each of the next two seasons. There’s certainly no way to sugarcoat it — Maatta didn’t have a great debut season with the Kings.
Originally brought in to give Drew Doughty a legitimate defensive partner, the 26-year-old Finnish forward was benched after a handful of games in what Todd McLellan called a “mental reset.” He only played a couple more games the rest of the year on the Kings’ top pairing. Instead, he spent the majority of the season on the third pairing or as a healthy scratch.
Maatta had no goals and just four assists in 41 games. He also didn’t have a great showing at the World Championships in Riga, Latvia, for the silver medal-winning Team Finland. If the Kings were strapped for cash, a $2.7M cap savings could be significant in terms of free-agent additions. But Los Angeles is in a great situation regarding the salary cap that they can afford – for lack of a better word – to ride out Maatta’s last year.
And for a young, left side of the defense, Maatta can serve as a mentor and as the team’s seventh defenseman, giving way to Kurtis MacDermid either being traded away for a late-round draft pick or waived, depending on how coveted he is.
Just for fun
Looking at some of the other contracts on the Kings roster, they can save the following if they bought out these players.
Cap hit: $3.2M in 2021-22 and $1.3M in 2022-23
Savings: $2.7M in 2021-22
Cap hit: $3.7M in 2021-22, $4.2M in 2022-23, $917K in 2023-24 and $917K in 2024-25
Savings: $2.1M in 2021-22 and $1.6M in 2022-23