Pittsburgh Penguins' Potential Buyout Options During Second Window

Since Drew O'Connor of the Pittsburgh Penguins filed for arbitration, whether a new contract is decided before or not, it triggers a second buyout window for the team. The Penguins are currently $3.2 million over the cap this season, so a buyout is fairly likely while they still can.

The Penguins have been fighting to get a deal done with the San Jose Sharks and bring in Erik Karlsson, moving out Jeff Petry in the process, but it's very risky to wait on that. If that trade doesn't go through and the team decides not to buy anyone out, they will be forced to make a trade to dump cap, using a high draft pick or prospect in the process.

CapFriendly lists the Penguins as having a 22-man roster at this time, which isn't even how much they can hold on their roster at a time (23 players). To reduce the cap hit a little before a buyout, we have to look at goaltending. There are currently three goalies on the active roster, so one of Casey DeSmith or Alex Nedeljkovic will spend time in the AHL (likely Nedeljkovic to start). This won't free up the entire $1.5 million, but it will drop the cap hit a bit. Secondly, they will have to send one of Chad Ruhwedel or Ty Smith to the minors too. They will be more likely to lose Smith on waivers now that he's eligible, so Ruhwedel is my best bet.

Now that the cap would be a little less, the Penguins would still have to drop it a little more. There's two options at forward who they could buy out - Jeff Carter or Markus Granlund. The Penguins definitely made a mistake in acquiring Granlund since he still has two years left at $5 million AAV. If bought out, the cap hit will be larger and last longer. Plus he will be a little more effective than Carter. If the veteran centerman is bought out, the cap hit will be smaller (manageable). He has just one year left on his deal at $3.125 million AAV. One may very well have to go and a buyout would be the better way to go unless they're alright with giving up assets and going all in.

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