Jan 28, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Malone (12) juggles the puck during warm up against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Rumors: Tampa Bay Lightning to buy out Ryan Malone?

After an underwhelming season that was marred by an April arrest for cocaine possession and driving under the influence, the Tampa Bay Lighting are considering buying out the final year of Ryan Malone‘s contract.

Malone was a high-priced free agent when the Lighting gave him a seven-year deal worth $31.5 million but after only recording 15 points in 57 games last season, Malone may not get to see that seventh season, according to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

Neither Malone, 34, nor his agent, would comment, but he realizes he’s a candidate [for a buyout].

And Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, speaking in general about Malone, didn’t discount any possibility

“Obviously injuries he’s had, some serious injuries over the past three, four years since I’ve been with the organization, have limited the number of games that he could play,” Yzerman said. “It does take its toll on a player. We’re taking everything into consideration for the offseason in improving our team and we’re looking at all different (options), whether it be the draft, free agency, trades, buyouts. We’ll take it all into consideration.”

Malone was a healthy scratch at times toward the end of the regular season and when he was on the ice was demoted to the fourth line. Ghd xix-time 20-gaol scorer carries a $4.5 million cap hit, but with legal troubles, injury concerns and a decline in production, he could be looking for a new team for 2014-2015 to rehab his image and performance on the ice.

With a few valuable restricted free agents and unrestricted free agent Ryan Callahan commanding a lucrative contract after he was acquired in teh Martin St. Louis trade, letting go of Malone would see to be a no-brainer for Yzerman and the Lightning.

Tags: Ryan Malone Tampa Bay Lightning

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