The Columbus Blue Jackets made forward Scott Hartnell disappear on Thursday, buying out the final two years of his six-year, $28 million deal they took on when they acquired him from the Philadelphia Flyers in 2014.
According to Cap Friendly, the buyout costs the Jackets $1.5 million against the cap next season vs. his $4.75 million AAV, with the cap penalty increasing to $3 million in 2018-19. The cap penalty for 2019 through 2021 is $1.25 million.
“Moves like this are never easy, but with our current organizational depth at the position it is something we believe is in the best interest of our club moving forward,” said GM Jarmo Kekalainen.
Well, yeah. Hartnell had 13 goals and 24 assists in 78 games last season for the Jackets, skating 12:04 per game, which was his lowest average time on ice since his rookie season in 2000-01.
The Jackets told him at the end of the season that he wouldn’t be back, but that didn’t sway Hartnell to waive his no-movement clause for exposure in the expansion draft.
Now he can sign anywhere, although it would be on a plus-35 contract, which makes things a little tricky as far as term.
Where could he land? The obvious spot would be with the Nashville Predators.
That’s where he was drafted sixth overall in 2000, where his former coach Peter Laviolette is behind the bench and where his former linemate Ryan Johansen resides. The Predators nearly acquired him in the Seth Jones trade, too.
He can give them some veteran leadership, contribute on the power play and bring in some added muscle when necessary – last season was Hartnell’s first full NHL season since 2008 without breaking 100 penalty minutes.
Of course, there will always be those who want a reunion with the Philadelphia Flyers, where Hartnell was a beloved player. We’re just not sure how a plus-35 Hartnell fits with what the team’s doing in 2017. Or what Dave Hakstol’s doing with that team.
Eh, sign with the Penguins and watch the world burn, Scotty.
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