Breaking: Lightning set to use $6.7 million forward as buyout candidate to re-sign Steven Stamkos

Breaking: Lightning set to use $6.7 million forward as buyout candidate to re-sign Steven Stamkos

The Lightning need salary cap room to re-sign Steven Stamkos and complete their roster, and the buyout deadline is approaching.

Could the team purchase the remaining two seasons of forward Conor Sheary’s contract to gain relief?

Sheary’s first season in Tampa was disappointing, especially given that he received the richest and longest contract of any incoming Lightning free agency last season.

He struggled to adjust to his new squad, scoring four goals and 15 points in 57 games. He was sidelined early in the season due to a thumb injury, but general manager Julien BriseBois later revealed that Sheary had been playing with a ruptured tendon in his finger since December 30.

Sheary does not require offseason surgery and is expected to be fully recovered when training camp begins in mid-September. He has two years remaining on his contract, with a cap hit of $2 million per season. If the Lightning buys out his contract by Sunday’s 5 p.m. deadline, they will gain $1,416,667 in cap space.

Because of Sheary’s age, 32, the Lightning would be responsible for two-thirds of his remaining pay, paid in equal installments over the next four seasons, resulting in a $583,333 cap charge until the 2027-28 season.

In the short term, the Lightning would have $6.751 million in salary space, which may not be enough to re-sign Stamkos, let alone replace Sheary and add at least two more players, even at the league minimum of $775,000.

BriseBois has stated that he feels Sheary can comeback, and his ability to do so may be more crucial than the cap relief that letting him go would give.

“I look at how well he did in Washington in (the 2022-23) season, and I expect him to have a bounce-back year the following year,” BriseBois said after the Lightning’s season ended. “He is a diligent worker. He wants to do well. Hopefully, he can stay healthy and make a significant difference.

One of the reasons the Lightning signed Sheary was his ability to mix in with elite players, having previously thrived on lines with Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh and Alex Ovechkin in Washington. He showed some potential in limited minutes on the Lightning’s top line alongside Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, and he fit in well on the third line with Nick Paul and Mikey Eyssimont.

However, the development of rookie Mitchell Chaffee and the signing of Anthony Duclair made Sheary a regular healthy scratch down the stretch, and he did not play in the playoffs.

“I think sometimes it just takes longer coming into a new environment,” BriseBois said. “We see it time and time again, especially when we bring in guys at the deadline. It takes time sometimes to build that chemistry on ice.”


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