The Penguins have six forwards signed for $5 million or more next season.
Four have been with the team since the back-to-back Cups (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust.) Another is one of the most successful addition at wing since those titles (Rickard Rakell.)
The sixth is Mikael Granlund, who is signed on at $5 million per season through 2024-25.
At Granlund’s production rate— he recorded one goal and four assists in 21 games for the Penguins last year, earning him a majority F grade on his Pensburgh season in review— that’s a high price tag. According to the CapFriendly buyout calculator, the Penguins could save over $4 million in cap space next season by paying out the rest of his contract.
That’s the central reason Granlund was named one of the top 13 buyout candidates to look out for this offseason by The Athletic’s Thomas Drance and Harman Dayal.
Drance and Dayal write:
“Dubas had a good track record in Toronto of finding a way to trade bad contracts but with two years left at a $5 million it’d probably cost the Penguins premium assets to shed Granlund’s deal, the exact type of limited trade chips that the Penguins might want to leverage in order to acquire impact players on the trade market.”
The Penguins’ savings on the buyout would decrease over time, and the team would be left giving up almost $2 million in dead cap space through 2026-27. However, as that season outlasts Crosby’s current contract, Drance and Dayal guess “the Penguins’ championship window will almost certainly be closed (by then) anyway.”
This buyout would not mean the end of Granlund’s NHL career. Zooming out on his entire 2022-23 season to include his time with the Nashville Predators, he recorded 41 points (10-21—41) in 79 games. He could be an attractive addition to a team on a more affordable contract.
Unfortunately for the Penguins, they will likely have to buy him out to get him there.
It all depends on what happens when the buyout window opens this month. That will either be on June 15, if the Stanley Cup Final wraps up early, or 48 hours after the playoffs end, if the Florida Panthers and Golden Knights go to at least six games. Kyle Dubas and the Penguins will then have until June 30 to decide what they want to do with Granlund’s deal.