The staff of Raw Charge (and some special guests) came together to squee about the Tampa Bay Lightning re-signing Nikita Kucherov earlier today. News over here. We also discuss the impact of Kucherov’s term on the Maple Leafs.
Mr. Loserpoints: NIKITA KUCHEROV HAS RE-SIGNED WITH THE LIGHTNING!!! What are your initial thoughts and reactions?
JustinG: I’m glad my Kucherov jersey is still current. I hate having to buy new gear. Also. It locks up the core players for the immediate future and still gives Yzerman room to work in additional talent. The man can multi-task.
Tom Hunter: A very rare deal that makes a ton of sense for both sides. Nikita Kucherov becomes the 3rd highest paid winger in the NHL, which makes all the sense in the world because he’s probably the 3rd best winger in the NHL. It gives a ton of cost certainty for a team that has big plans. Yzerman and crew are putting together something really special in Tampa. A juggernaut that would steamroll any other division in hockey. The Atlantic? Maybe not.
GeoFitz: Speaking of that, and I was even thinking it during a lot of last year, The Atlantic is simultaneously the best and the worst division in the league. Three juggernauts at the top of the division in Tampa, Toronto, and Boston, and then a lot of teams fighting to win the draft lottery.
JustinG: I’m interested to see how the reactions play out among the non-lightning fans. Is it too much? Too long? Is Yzerman a wizard?
Matthew: The Atlantic is top heavy. Those three teams at the top are among the best in the league but the remainder of the division remains suspect.
GeoFitz: I think it’s a great deal. If he was on the open market, he might not be hitting McDavid levels, but he could have pushed further. The two wingers that are being paid more than him signed their deals years ago and one of them is the greatest Russian to ever play the game (in my opinion).
Matthew: As for Kucherov. He’s one of the best players in the league. The contract makes sense from both sides and it further knocks away the nonsense that Kucherov wasn’t going to stay in TB. It provides cost certainty moving forward, and possibly a clearer window to securing an Erik Karlsson trade.
GeoFitz: The four other players that have had 100-point seasons since the 2012-13 lockout season average a $10 million salary cap hit. Crosby and Giroux are the two lowest cap hits in that group. Crosby signed his contract before the lockout and Giroux signed his before the 2013-14 season and had a resurgent season this year to set a new career high.
Achariya: Question for those who know about Toronto: does this raise or lower the potential salary of Mitch Marner and William Nylander? And how will Toronto manage to slide those guys in with the hit that John Tavares brings?
Achariya: Also, as Alan pointed out on twitter, it is freaking classic for Stevie Y to let us all spin on our heads about Erik Karlsson while he quietly signs a franchise-altering deal a year early.
JustinG: Especially since there seemed to be little traction to sign a deal early.
GeoFitz: The word has been that Yzerman and Kucherov’s agent have been negotiating for the past week or so, since before the Karlsson rumors have been circulating strongly. While many (including Tom) will bring up that this contract makes it more difficult to get the Karlsson trade done and an extension signed with him, I disagree. I have to believe that this was the plan all along for Yzerman and that he and Julien Brisebois have a five-year plan of how to make everything work. There’s still some variables and some unknowns, but they’ve just locked one of those down. Maybe we’ll see a Brayden Point or Andrei Vasilevskiy extension in the coming weeks that will further eliminate some variables?
Tom Hunter: It lowers what the media thinks Marner was going to get. Friedman and Dreger have been pushing “he’s worth $10m+”. In actuality I don’t think it impacts them at all. Pastrnak was always the best comparable.
GeoFitz: Agreed with that. There’s still a lot of comparables in the $6-$7 million range for players coming off of entry level contracts similar to Marner and Nylander like Pastrnak, Johnny Gaudreau, Filip Forsberg, Alexander Barkov, Brandon Saad, Sean Monahan, Nathan MacKinnon, Nikolaj Ehlers, and a bunch more. You also have to keep in mind that Kucherov is coming off of a bridge contract and would have only had one more year until unrestricted free agency which makes a big difference of paying for seven years of unrestricted free agency instead of 3-4 years for those guys.
Hardev: I’m not sure if Kucherov is a comparable to Marner or Nylander. Age is a big factor in this as the comparables still will keep Nylander under $7 million. It will at least help the narrative driven by Marner’s agent that he deserves $10+ million.
Tom Hunter: I think the biggest thing is that we have to stop comparing Cs and Ws, and it seems like NHL teams are starting to. Cs are inherently more valuable than Ws, and they get paid as such. It’s why Draisitl got a lot more than Pastrnak, and why it’s idiotic when people like Dreger put Matthews and Marner in the same category, and why the Stamkos deal is such a damn steal.
Achariya: Who does Yzerman sign next? Vasilevskiy?
Hardev Lad: He isn’t allowed to until next July 1st. Vasy’s got two more years left!
Tom Hunter: Yanni!
Hardev Lad: Yes, Yanni. Maybe Point. I could see a deal be attempted so Yzerman has a better idea what he has left to pay Karlsson. I still believe that Karlsson trade is possible. I said it on the Mile High Hockey roundtable and I’ll say it here too, the Colorado Avalanche would be a perfect spot for some of the “middle-class” contracts the Lightning are holding. I wouldn’t expect Colorado to be on many no-trade lists, and they’re a team with Nathan MacKinnon who just made the playoffs with two bad goalies. Now they have what was the best available goalie on the market and a promising young core.
Tom Hunter: I think the Karlsson trade is possible, I just don’t think it’s likely.
Hardev Lad: I wonder if Yzerman makes Dorion and Karlsson sweat a little bit and wait until the deadline. He won’t have to pay as much and I’m sure he’d take his chances in Free Agency.
Tom Hunter: He’ll go somwhere else. Karlsson isn’t playing another game for the Sens.
loserpoints: Whatever happens with Karlsson, this will be the most important move of the summer for the Lightning. Kucherov is among the handful of best players in the NHL. He is on pace to be one of the best players in franchise history. And now we know there’s a good chance he’ll be here for another eight years. This is a moment to celebrate.