This leaves JM Steve Yzerman with a lot of options, and a lot of problems. Tampa currently has 8 Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA) and 4 Restricted Free Agents (RFA). Now, we have all heard the recent rumors of Brad Richards returning to Tampa! However, its hard to realistically believe this is a possibility.
One can dream though. Can't they?
Right now Tampa has to resign superstar Steven Stamkos, sign two goalies, and fill in alot of blank spaces, but we do have the upside of an owner willing to spent the cap limit. Thank you Mr. Vinik.
Here's the Lightning Roster and when they sit.
Honestly I would have expected Steven Stamkos to resign by now, and every time I hear a Stamkos rumor involving Toronto I want to puke. Steve Yzerman is as smart as they come, and I can only assume that Stamkos will be signed to a long-term deal around 8M per year, with a cap hit in the 7M range. This would leave Tampa with approximately 15 Million (without the cap raise) to fill in some serious holes.
Teddy Purcell had a breakout season reaching the 50 point mark and he was stellar in the playoffs, can Tampa afford to keep him around? Sean Bergenheim had a heroic playoff run, Eric Brewer was a shot-blocking machine. Do we resign Gagne after he found some long needed chemistry with vinny? Do we resign Roloson for one more year after his playoff heroics? Even Mike Smith was solid in his last few games of the season, AND the rare playoff appearance.
The Lightning surprised us all this year. Anyone who said they would be in Game 7 of the Conference Finals can shake their head, even I was expecting a early exit. Half the players had never even seen the playoffs before...
Lets assume the following;
* Adam Hall resigns for a team friendly 1 Million 2-year deal.
* Dwayne Roloson resigned for one more year at 2 million.
* Teddy Purcell gets a multi-year contract at 3.5 Million
* Bergenheim resigns for approximately 2 Million
* Randy Jones resigned for another year at 1 Million
* MA Bergeron, Gagne, Brewer, Smith walk away from the team.
Now thats a lof of IF's, the numbers will vary and some players do not get signed and others will.
This leaves Tampa with approximately 6-7 Million in cap space to sign Brad Richards. But wait. We would only have 1 goalie signed, 5 defenceman signed, and 11 forwards.
Brad Richards would be willing to take a home town discount, but even if he signs for lets say 5 Million, we have 1-2 Million to sign a backup goalie, 2 defenceman and another forward. That can not work, can it?
I know we have promising prospects and we all (well, most of us) expect Cedrick Desjardins to crack the Lightning roster next season, so some of these holes can and will be filled. But it would put too much stress on our team and our future if we were to resign Brad Richards. I for one am letting go of a dream for the better of our team. I do not want to turn into Chicago and have to trade our assets for virtually nothing.
Thank you for the read. Let me know what you think about signing Richards!