Dipping into the free agent pool will have consequences for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After signing winger Brandon Tanev to a six-year, $21 million contract Monday afternoon, the Penguins have about $79.2 million committed to 20 players, leaving them about $2.3 million under the cap.
They still need to re-sign restricted free agents Marcus Pettersson, Zach Aston-Reese and Teddy Blueger.
According to estimates calculated by the website evolving-hockey.com, those three players will command a total of around $4 million in salary. If the Penguins sign Pettersson to a long-term deal, that figure could be even higher.
Add it all up, and the Penguins need to move out a player making a healthy paycheck.
General manager Jim Rutherford has expressed satisfaction in his defense corps, so the cap casualty is likely to come from the forwards ranks. Nick Bjugstad, who makes $4.1 million, and Bryan Rust, who makes $3.5 million, are the most logical candidates.
If Bjugstad were traded, the Penguins would have to find a replacement at third-line center. Jared McCann and Dominik Kahun are both natural centermen who could fill the role.
If Rust were traded, the Penguins would be dealing away one of their fastest players and would be a little light on the right side of the depth chart, but lefties Kahun, Alex Galchenyuk and Dominik Simon are comfortable on their off wings.