June 21: Kassian and Nemeth have both cleared conditional waivers, paving the way for the Coyotes to buy them out, CapFriendly reports.
Nemeth, 31, carried a modified no-trade clause and was slated to be the Coyotes’ highest-paid active defenseman heading into 2023-24. Buying out the final season of Nemeth’s $2.5MM average annual value contract gives Arizona $2.33MM in savings next year (he’ll carry a cap hit of just $167,667), but he’ll cost the team $1.167MM against the cap in 2024-25, per CapFriendly’s buyout calculator.
Kassian had one season remaining on his deal at a $3.2MM cap hit but was only due $2.3MM in salary. The Coyotes will save an additional $1.533MM next season with the Kassian buyout, bringing his cap hit down to $1.67MM, but will incur a $766,667 cap hit in 2024-25. Altogether, the buyouts create $3.867MM in cap space for the Coyotes next year, but they’ll incur a combined $1.933MM buyout charge between Kassian and Nemeth in 2024-25.
Arizona was already one of six NHL teams below next season’s salary cap Lower Limit of $61.7MM – including over $21MM in dead cap allotted to Bryan Little, Jakub Voracek, and Shea Weber. The team has four restricted free agents to re-sign – Christian Fischer, Connor Ingram, Jack McBain, and Matias Maccelli – but they likely won’t make up the $10MM Arizona now needs to spend to hit the cap floor, per CapFriendly.
Acquiring unrestricted free agents will be a challenge given the team’s significant long-term uncertainty, although with Mullett Arena secured as their 2023-24 home, they may be able to attract a spattering of players on one-year deals. The team’s internal salary budget is almost certainly close to (if not lower than) that $61.7MM floor, so freeing up space to allot to younger players (internally or externally) does make some modicum of sense from a financial standpoint.
Both Nemeth and Kassian will be free to sign anywhere as unrestricted free agents on July 1. Nemeth recorded just five assists in 75 games last season in a bottom-pairing role, posting poor relative possession numbers for the second straight season. Kassian, now strictly an enforcer at this point in his career, could be headed for retirement after scoring just twice in 51 games, recording a career-worst -18 rating despite playing under 10 minutes per game.