Tampa Bay Lightning is hitting the dynasty regime after becoming the second team of the season to be re-elected as Stanley Cup champions.
But will the wage ceiling prevent them from earning more?
“The team knows they probably will not be together next year,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper told Sportsnet after Wednesday night’s 1-0 win over Montreal Canada. “That was the conversation: Do not let this end. What a team. Expansion. Cap. Everything. We would not go out without lifting this trophy.”
The Lightning managed to keep most of the team together because Nikita Kucherov picked up a long-term injured reserve after hip surgery and missed the entire regular season of 56 games. This allowed them to exceed the $ 9.5 million hit ceiling.
But Lightning will not be able to do it again and the Seattle Kraken expansion plan will come:
Where are the Lightning and Canadiens in the offseason?
Tampa Bay Lightning
The good news for Lightning is that the core – Kucherov, Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh, Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, Anthony Cirelli and Yanni Gourde – will be signed at least next season.
The bad news is that the team is already having problems with the caps and two thirds of the highly efficient third line come for an unlimited free company.
Blake Coleman ($ 1.8 million) and Barclay Goodrow ($ 925,000), acquired before the 2020 championship, were opportunities. However, there will be bigger offers after the strong after the period that included a spectacular goal in game 2 of the final.
Five defenders are on contract, but David Savard and Luke Schenn are unlimited. Front Ross Colton, who scored the winning goal of the series, is a free agent with limited access.
Lightning suggested Tyler Johnson (two goals in Game 3 of the final) for resignations before Kucherov surgery, so he will probably leave. He has three years left on his $ 5 million deal. Maybe Lightning will offer Kraken an option to get him in the expansion plan.
Moving forward, Point will have a big increase after the expiration of his contract in 2022.
General Manager Julien BriseBois quit his job for him.
The Canadiens can not rest easily because they will return to a busy section that includes Tampa Bay, Boston, Florida and Toronto.
But they have a cap and a good combination of veterans and rising youngsters (Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Jesperi Kotkaniemi) who gained valuable experience during the team.
GM Marc Bergevin is loaded with former Stanley Cup winners and Corey Perry and Eric Staal are unlimited. So is Joel Armia, the third member of their effective fourth series.
The Phillip Danault Control Center is also unlimited. They could choose to go ahead with UFA Tomas Tatar, Erik Gustafsson and Jon Merrill.
Artturi Lehkonen and Kotkaniemi are limited free agents.
Reserve goalkeeper Jake Allen is expected to be included in the expansion plan.