Friday: Stone has cleared waivers and was officially bought out by the Flames. He is now an unrestricted free agent.
Thursday: The Calgary Flames received a second buyout window after dealing with their arbitration cases and will use it to buy out Michael Stone. The veteran defenseman has been placed on unconditional waivers according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, which will be followed by a buyout tomorrow. Stone has one year remaining on his contract and carries a $3.5MM cap hit. The move will result in the following cap hits being applied to the Flames:
- 2019-20: $1,166,667
- 2020-21: $1,166,667
Stone signed a three-year $10.5MM contract with the Flames in the summer of 2017 after being acquired earlier that year from the Arizona Coyotes. The 6’3″ defenseman at that point was just a year removed from a solid 36-point campaign and looked like he could be a big part of the Flames’ blueline. Unfortunately that first full year in Calgary didn’t go according to plan and Stone was routinely limited to third-pairing duty, playing fewer than 16 minutes 40 of his 82 games. He registered just ten points on an extremely disappointing team that failed to even make the playoffs.
His second year with the team didn’t go much better, this time marred by injury and a blood clotting issue that kept him out for some time. Stone ended up playing just 14 games for the Flames all season. With the emergence of Juuso Valimaki and Rasmus Andersson as legitimate NHL options, there wasn’t a lot of room left for Stone to try and rehab his value. He’ll have to do that elsewhere.
For Calgary, a move like this was absolutely necessary in order to re-sign Matthew Tkachuk. The team currently projects to have just $4.67MM in cap space prior to a Stone buyout, leaving them little wiggle room to get the young star under contract. If they’re planning on signing Tkachuk to a long-term deal it will likely take up a huge amount of cap space and make him their highest-paid player, something that wasn’t possible without a trade or buyout of some sort.
Stone though shouldn’t have to wait around long to find work if he is truly healthy and ready for the season. The right-handed defenseman is still just 29 years old and could represent a bargain pickup if he can reclaim any of his past success. That’s obviously not guaranteed, but for cap-strapped teams looking for a defensive upgrade he may be an option.