NHL Notes: Blue Jackets Buy Out Scott Hartnell

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Columbus Blue Jackets have bought out the final two years of 35-year-old forward Scott Hartnell's contract, opening up salary cap space to possibly sign another free agent.

Hartnell would have cost the team $4.75 million against the cap over the next two years. The buyout, announced Thursday, clears $3.25 million against the cap next season and $1.75 million in 2018-19.

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Hartnell, who becomes an unrestricted free agent, had 64 goals and 82 assists with 275 penalty minutes in 234 games with the club in three seasons. Last season he had 13 goals and 24 assists in 78 games.

The No. 6 overall pick by Nashville in the 2000 draft, Hartnell was acquired by the Blue Jackets in a trade with the Flyers in 2014 (see full story).

Rangers: Brendan Smith agrees to $17M, 4-year deal
WASHINGTON -- The New York Rangers have agreed to terms on a $17 million, four-year deal with Brendan Smith.

The defenseman will count $4.35 million against the salary cap in each season of the new contract.

General manager Jeff Gorton announced the deal Thursday. Smith was set to be an unrestricted free agent Saturday.

Smith, 28, would have been one of the top blue liners available in free agency after the Rangers acquired him as a rental at the trade deadline from the Detroit Red Wings. Smith had three goals and six assists for nine points in 51 games, averaging a career-high 19:14 of ice time.

In 309 games in parts of six seasons, Smith has 16 goals and 55 assists. A left-shooting defenseman who can play the right side, the Toronto native has strong puck-possession numbers and will be a top-four player for New York, perhaps playing with captain Ryan McDonagh (see full story).

Oilers: Buying out Pouliot as to keep clearing cap space
EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers have placed forward Benoit Pouliot on unconditional waivers with the purposes of buying out his contract.

Pouliot had two years left at a salary-cap hit of $4 million. By buying out Pouliot, Edmonton saves $2.67 million against the cap the next two years.

It's the latest move by the Oilers to clear cap space with big-money deals for MVP Connor McDavid and forward Leon Draisaitl coming. Draisaitl's new contract starts next year and McDavid's -- which could come in at around $100 million -- would begin in 2018-19.

Edmonton already traded winger Jordan Eberle and his $6 million salary to the New York Islanders for the younger, cheaper Ryan Strome.

Pouliot, 30, had 84 points in 184 games in three seasons with Edmonton, his sixth NHL team (see full story).

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