Scott Hartnell's contract bought out by Blue Jackets

Scott Hartnell of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates up to a face off during the third period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on December 17, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Scott Hartnell no longer will cost the Columbus Blue Jackets $4.75 million a year. 

The 35-year-old forward's remaining contract, which goes through the 2018-19 season, was bought out on Thursday, the team announced

Hartnell originally signed the 6-year, $28.5 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2012. He scored a career best 37 goals for the Flyers the season before he signed that lucrative deal.

The Flyers flipped him to Columbus in the summer of 2014 in exchange for R.J. Umberger. His goal scoring has declined each year he has been in Columbus. This past season he scored 13 goals and 24 assists in 78 games played. He didn't muster a point in four playoff games. 

"On behalf of our organization, I want to thank Scott for his contributions to the Blue Jackets over the past three seasons and wish him well in the future," Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement Thursday. "Moves like this are never easy, but with our current organizational depth at the position it is something we believe is in the best interest of our club moving forward."

Now Hartnell's an unrestricted free agent heading into the NHL's free agency weekend, which begins at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. He could add depth to a team in need of a forward, and likely will be signing a one-year deal ... somewhere. 

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