This is the latest file in THN.com’s collection of analyzes of every NHL workforce’s low season strikes. Today, we’re analyzing the Tampa Bay Lightning..
2021-22 Record: 51-23-8
Finish In The Atlantic Division: third
Salary Cap Space Available (As Per CapPleasant.com): $0 ($7.195 million over cap ceiling)
What Tampa Bay Has: As good and gifted a bunch of gamers as there’s within the sport; a world-class goaltender in Andrei Vasilevskiy; a perennial Norris Trophy frontrunner in Victor Hedman; arguably the very best GM/head coach mixture in Julien BriseBois and Jon Cooper; bona fide high-pressure producers in Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Alex Killorn, Brayden Point; an injection of (relative) youth in forwards Brandon Hagel and Nick Paul;
What Tampa Bay Needs: Salary cap flexibility; higher luck on the well being entrance; residence ice benefit within the 2023 playoffs
What’s Realistic For Tampa Bay Next Season: There have been doubters final season that the Lightning would as soon as once more be a Stanley Cup frontrunner, however the Bolts put these fears to relaxation with one other extremely resilient post-season run that solely ended by the hands of the equally -skilled Colorado Avalanche. Once once more, Tampa Bay’s impeccably-balanced lineup shook off playoff collection deficits and in any other case glorious opponents en route to return inside solely two wins of their third consecutive Cup victory – a titanic achievement in any NHL period, however particularly within the wage cap period. The system is constructed to continuously chip away at each profitable franchise’s core, which makes it all of the extra unimaginable GM Julien BriseBois persistently discovered new faces – final 12 months, it was forwards Corey Perry, Nick Paul and Brandon Hagel – who slot in seamlessly.
Yes, the Lightning have misplaced a number of key veterans this summer time – clutch winger Ondrej Palat signed as an unrestricted free agent with New Jersey, whereas veteran blueliner Ryan McDonagh was traded to Nashville – however is anybody actually ready to rely them out this coming season? They should not be, when Tampa Bay has arguably the highest goalie on the planet in Andrei Vasilevsky. He was their saving grace in opposition to Toronto within the first spherical, the important thing cause they steamrolled the mighty Florida Panthers in Round Two, and central to their Eastern Conference Final win over Igor Shesterkin and the New York Rangers. Some gamers earn more cash than Vasilevskiy’s $9.5 million annual wage that you just’d name overpaid – achoo, Sergei Bobrovsky, achoo – however Vasilevskiy is value each penny after which some. And he is nonetheless solely 28 years outdated. As lengthy as he is on his sport, the Bolts are a risk to win each sport they play.
It’s going to be more durable for the Lightning to remain atop the NHL meals chain going ahead – subsequent summer time, KIllorn and Perry will likely be UFAs, and children Cal Foote, Ross Colton and Philippe Myers will likely be restricted free brokers, and BriseBois could have simply $3.7 million in cap area to fill in his roster holes – but when any workforce within the sport has earned the good thing about the doubt they’re going to stay in Cup competition, it is Tampa Bay. They’re operating out of high draft picks – they do not have their first-round decide in both of the following two drafts, and likewise haven’t got their second-rounder in 2023 – however that is a future drawback.
At the second, all of the Lightning wish to do is win, they usually’ve acquired greater than sufficient talent and expertise to get the job completed but once more. You can wager in opposition to them, however you will achieve this at your personal peril.