Lightning winger potential buyout candidate

The Lightning, despite their recent struggles, are still a top team in the last decade.

With back-to-back first-round exits and salary cap issues, they risk losing Steven Stamkos to free agency. To avoid this, GM Julien BriseBois is working hard to keep the team competitive. He’s already brought back Ryan McDonagh from the Predators after both teams were knocked out of the playoffs.

Most of Tampa’s key players like Victor Hedman, Erik Černák, Anthony Cirelli, Brandon Hagel, Brayden Point, and Mikhail Sergachev have long-term contracts. Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy also have hefty deals through 2027-2028. The salary cap will rise to $88M next season giving BriseBois some room to maneuver but with only $5.335M left for three roster spots, signing anyone other than Stamkos is tricky.

Salary Cap Challenges:

Tampa hasn’t used buyouts recently but might consider it now. Harman Dayal and Thomas Drance suggest Conor Sheary could be a candidate as the buyout window opens soon after the Stanley Cup Final ends. Sheary was signed last summer for three years at $6M ($2M AAV) but struggled this season with just four goals and 15 points in 57 games. He was often benched towards the end of the season and didn’t play in their first-round loss to the Panthers.

Fans might wonder if buying out Sheary is worth it.

Sheary’s limited role under Coach Jon Cooper saw him average just 11:06 on ice per game—the lowest since his rookie year. Though his shooting rate dropped to a career-low 8%, suggesting potential for improvement, Tampa can’t afford more risks with their tight cap situation. Trading him would be ideal but complicated by his 16-team trade list. A buyout would reduce his cap hit from $2M to $583K next season, freeing up $1.417M—enough for a cost-effective depth player or flexibility for Stamkos’ extension.

The remaining buyout impact isn’t too bad either: a $1.083M hit in 2025-26 saves over $900K before dropping below league minimum penalties in later years.

What do you think? Should they go for it?

Alex Thompson
Alex Thompson
Alex Thompson is a Senior Writer for HockeyMonitor. With a background in Sports Media, Alex joined the team in 2022. He focuses on providing the latest hockey news, game scores, and fresh NHL trade rumors.

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