The Tampa Bay Lightning have one compliance buyout left and all signs point towards it being used on Ryan Malone.
Malone is scheduled to make $4.5 million in 2014-15, the final year of his 7-year, $31 million deal, and after a sharp decline in playing time, and then substantial legal issues, now could be the best time for the Lightning to dump Malone.
“Obviously, injuries he’s had — some serious injuries over the past three, four years since I’ve been with the organization — have limited the number of games that he could play,” Yzerman said. “It does take its toll on a player. We’re taking everything into consideration for the offseason in improving our team, and we’re looking at all different (options), whether it be the draft, free agency, trades, buyouts. We’ll take it all into consideration.”
Malone played in 57 games and scored only five goals and collected just 15 points this past season. He missed 16 games though because of a broken ankle sustained in November. Over the last two years Malone has played in a total of just 81 games, adding 23 points.
Towards the end of the season Malone was regularly a healthy scratch, a sharp demise from a player that has six 20-goal seasons. He began the season on the top line but ended it by sitting in the stands.
To make matters worse for Malone, he faces charges for cocaine possession and driving under the influence after being arrested on April 12 but has plead not guilty.
On the ice, Malone had been a dominant force before his recent struggles. He’s a big, intimidating body, gets in front of the net, and does the dirty work down low, all while scoring goals. It’s the kind of presence the Lightning lack and perhaps why they are so determined to retain Ryan Callahan, who plays a similar style of game to Malone.
The Lightning used their first compliance buyout last summer when they cut Vincent Lecavalier loose.