The Nashville Predators are buying out forward Matt Duchene, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. This shocking move means the Predators will pay salary cap penalties for the foreseeable future, and Duchene will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Duchene has been with the Predators for the last four seasons, and his first couple of seasons were somewhat of a disappointment. From 2019 to 2021, Duchene scored just 19 goals in 100 games, but he exploded for 43 goals in the 2021-22 season, which broke the franchise record for goals in a single season. In 2022-23, Duchene tallied 22 goals and 56 points in 71 games.
Duchene signed a seven-year, $56 million contract with Nashville in July of 2019, and he had three years left at $8 million per season left on that deal. Now, the Predators will pay buyout penalties over the next six seasons, according to CapFriendly.
The Predators also retained salary on Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Johansen in recent trades, and they are paying Kyle Turris $2 million through the 2027-28 season as part of the buyout penalty for terminating his contract in 2020. Nashville will have a total of $8.8 million in dead money against the salary cap in 2023-24, and that number jumps to more than $11.8 million in 2025-26.
Following his buyout, Duchene will instantly become one of the top free agents in a rather shallow market. Despite his uneven tenure in Nashville, Duchene can still be a highly effective scoring winger. Now that the Predators will be paying him handsomely for the next few seasons, Duchene will probably have a glut of options to choose from in free agency.