Late Saturday evening, Elliotte Frieman released a report that indicated Joe Pavelski signing with Dallas is all but a done deal. He confirmed that the Lightning explored their options to make space for the veteran forward but that ultimately, Pavelski is likely to join the Stars when free agency officially begins on Monday.
Over the last 24 hours, there were plenty of rumours Tampa Bay was seeing what it needed to do to move space for Joe Pavelski. But, word late Saturday afternoon was Pavelski initiated talks with Dallas to be his second NHL home.
The Stars were determined to add scoring, and it looks like they have. Curious to see if San Jose tries someone like Jason Spezza on a one-year deal to help fill the spot.
The Lightning don’t have the cap space currently to sign Pavelski at the price he is likely to command on the free agent market. In order to bring him to Tampa, he would have either had to take an extreme discount or the Lightning would have had to trade a player. The most likely candidate would have been Yanni Gourde because his no trade clause doesn’t take effect until July 1st. But as we wrote earlier this week, a move like that could have ramifications.
Pavelski signing in Tampa was always a long shot. Understanding why both sides were interested is easy. The veteran forward is still an effective player and would have been an upgrade to the Lightning’s top six and their power play. For Pavelski, he’s looking for a couple more chances to win a Cup before he retires and the Lightning offer as good a chance as any.
Ultimately, it sounds like the realities of the business side of the game will push him to the Stars. The salary cap is real and eventually, even creative front offices run out of ways to maneuver around it. The Lightning are still stacked and ready for another playoff run, particularly at forward.
So far, we haven’t heard any other significant rumors around the Lightning pursuing free agents. And that makes sense considering the salary cap. Instead, we’ll be looking to see what happens with Anton Stralman as he hits the open market and to a lesser degree, Dan Girardi. Either could still potentially rejoin the Lightning at a deep discount and serve as defensive depth.
For now, it appears the Pavelski courtship is nearly over. If anything changes over the course of the weekend, we’ll be sure to keep you updated.