Lightning buy out Prospal's contract

The Tampa Bay Lightning have bought out the remaining three years of forward Vaclav Prospal's contract, making the Czech forward an unrestricted free agent.

Prospal, 34, was owed $3.5 million for the next three years but with the buy-out the Lightning will face only a $1.17 million cap hit for the next six years. Prospal was signed before current GM Brian Lawton took over and it's believed this move will free up money with which the Lightning will acquire another forward. Unrestricted free agent Alex Tanguay has been mentioned as a possible target.

A streaky scorer at the best of times Prospal had just 19 goals a year ago for the Lightning down from 33 the season before when he split time between Tampa and the Philadelphia Flyers.

"After fully evaluating our roster and our position in the salary cap world, we arrived at the decision to buy out Vaclav Prospal from his contract. We appreciate Vinny's service to the Lightning, but in the best interest of the team, we believe a difficult decision needed to be made in this case and we are going to move ahead without him. We wish Vinny all the best," Lawton said in a statement Tuesday.

Scott Burnside is an NHL reporter for ESPN.com.