Buyout season is underway around the NHL as teams clear salary cap space for upcoming moves.

The Dallas Stars on Friday bought out the final year of veteran defenseman Ryan Suter’s contract after his disappointing playoffs. The Philadelphia Flyers are moving in the same direction with underproducing winger Cam Atkinson, putting him on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying him out.

Suter did not need to go on waivers because of the no-movement clause in the two-year contract he signed with Dallas last summer. The 39-year-old struggled in his nearly 18 minutes of ice time during the Stars’ run to the Western Conference Final.

The buyout saves the club nearly $2.9 million against the cap next season, while costing an extra $1.4 million in 2025-26. General managers have some added flexibility with the cap jumping to $88 million for 2024-25 and even bigger leaps expected given record league revenues.

While Dallas is in its Stanley Cup-contending window, Philadelphia buying out Atkinson at age 35 makes room for more youth on the roster to build for the future.

Atkinson had just 28 points in 70 games last for the Flyers, who made a surprise run only to miss the playoffs in the East by four points. A mainstay with the Columbus Blue Jackets before going to Philadelphia, Atkinson missed entirely one of his three seasons with his second team because of a herniated disk in his neck.

GM Daniel Briere said it was an exceptionally tough decision to make, given Atkinson’s accomplishments and character.

“Throughout his time with the Flyers, Cam has displayed an incredible work ethic and level of professionalism that is a true credit to him as a player and person,” said Briere, who was not in charge when the Flyers traded for Atkinson in 2021. “I’ve witnessed firsthand the amount of effort dedication, and perseverance he went through during an incredibly tough rehabilitation process in order to come back and be a leader for our team on and off the ice. I would like to thank Cam for all he has put into raising the standard of our team.”

The buyout of Atkinson’s final year under contract would save the Flyers $3.5 million against the cap next season at a cost of an extra almost $1.76 million in 2025-26.

Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner, who is the only player in league history to reach 1,000 regular-season games without participating in the playoffs, is anther buyout candidate. Asked Thursday if Skinner had any interest in waiving his no-movement clause to facilitate a trade, Sabres GM Kevyn Adams said no.

Skinner has three seasons left on his $72 million, eight-year contract signed in 2019 coming off scoring a career-best 40 goals. A buyout now would save Buffalo over $7.5 million next season but spread his cap hit out through 2030.

___

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl