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Lightning Round: Alex Pietrangelo signs with Vegas

The biggest name in free agency made his decision. Now what happens?

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St Louis Blues v Tampa Bay Lightning

It took a few days and a visit to the glittering gem of a city in the middle of the desert, but Alex Pietrangelo finally signed with the Vegas Golden Knights. The 30-year-old will be spending the next seven seasons in Vegas generating a cap hit of $8.8 million per year. Ok, let’s not kid ourselves, the chances of Pietrangelo still being with the Golden Knights even five years from now are slim. So does this help or hurt the Lightning?

In terms of having teams with cap space to take a contract off of their hands it hurts them. Not only is Vegas now tapped out (and apparently needing to keep Marc-Andre Fleury - more on that later), Vancouver is also close to the limit after they took Nate Schmidt’s and his $5.95 million cap hit from Vegas in exchange for a third round pick. While there were no direct rumors tying Tampa Bay and the Canucks, they could have absorbed the hit of either Tyler Johnson or Alex Killorn.

On the other hand, if Julien BriseBois has convinced Ryan McDonagh to wave his No Trade Clause, he might be able to work a deal out with some of the contestants who lost out on the Pietrangelo sweepstakes. The top free agent defenseman left on the board is probably Travis Harmonic and, let’s face it, signing him to a long-term deal and expecting him to be healthy is a heck of a roll of the dice.

Could Boston be interested in his services? As loathe at Mr. BriseBois might be to better a conference rival, he’s in a spot where he may have to hold his nose and make a deal he wouldn’t under normal circumstances. The Bruins lost Torey Krug to free agency and Zdeno Chara is still undecided in regards to his return. Those are two rather large holes that need filling.

His style of play would make for a nice fit in Columbus, where John Tortorella would love to have another shot-blocking, physical blueliner to help shut down opponent’s offense. New Jersey just picked up Ryan Murray to help on defense, but McDonagh would probably slot in as their number one guy on the left side if they traded for him. So, despite the dwindling number of teams with cap space, there are still options for Mr. BriseBois if trading McDonagh is something he is working on.

Lightning News

The Bolts did take care of the Restricted Free Agents as they agreed to a contract with defenseman Ben Thomas. According to CapFriendly it is a one-year, two-way contract that will see him make $700,000 if he is called up to the Lightning or $165,000 if he stays with the Crunch. If he’s playing on the Lightning at any point next season, things have gone horribly wrong. The 24-year-old had a decent season in Syracuse last year and will be counted on to log some big minutes for them (especially if Cal Foote ends up in Tampa), but he hasn’t progressed to the point where he’s ready for the NHL just yet. [Tampa Bay Lightning Twitter]

Our resident prospect expert, Lauren, shared her thoughts on the recent draft. While she was intrigued by some of the prospects acquired by the Lightning, on the whole she was somewhat bewildered and a tad irritated about how they conducted their business. [Raw Charge]

The Lightning seemed to be passing on smaller players with a lot more talent and higher ceilings, in exchange for players with lower upside, larger frames, and generally what I would consider to be safer picks. They weren’t the only team to do that, but given that most teams seemed to take at least one undersized, highly skilled player (or the Carolina Hurricanes, who drafted several), I was a little surprised that the Lightning went so far in this direction.

Also on our site, Igor provided a translated interview that Mikhail Sergachev gave to shortly after the Lightning won the Stanley Cup. He’s not a fan of cigars. [Raw Charge]

Mikhail Sergachev: I’ve seen a lot of photos of guys with cigars from locker rooms of winning teams. From the NHL, NBA or NFL. It just looks cool. We’ve had some weird cigars in the locker room, but didn’t smoke them much. It didn’t taste great, just to make some photos and videos. It was great.

Other Hockey News

In order to sign Pietrangelo the Golden Knights had to clear out some cap space. After rumors that he was heading to the Florida Panthers, Nate Schmidt actually headed in the complete opposite direction as he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a third round pick. [Knights on Ice]

Schmidt scored seven goals and 24 assists in 59 games in 2019-20. He scored an additional two goals and seven assists in 20 postseason games in the Golden Knights’ run to the Western Conference Final. Schmidt averaged 21:41 per game in the regular season and 23:03 in the playoffs.

The Golden Knights were expected to trade Marc-Andre Fleury at some point this offseason. The writing seemed to be on the wall once they signed Robin Lehner to a five-year, $25 million extension. The draft came and went with no deal, as did the first few days of free agency. Now, due to a compressed schedule and Lehner’s off-season shoulder surgery, General Manager Kelly McCrimmon expects to play next season with both of his expensive netminders. [The Athletic]

“We all expect a schedule that’s going to be extremely compressed,” McCrimmon said. “It’s easy for us to talk about, and everybody expects that. But when you begin to live it, I think that the importance of two goaltenders is really going to be valuable. I guess time will tell how much of a benefit it’s going to be for those teams that have two great goaltenders.”

TTTTTRRRRRAAAAADDE The Colorado Avalanche eschewed the free agent market to help their defense. Instead, they sent two second round picks (a 2021 and a 2022) to the New York Islanders in exchange for defenseman Devon Toews. Only 26-years-old Toews should slot in on the Avalanche’s top pair once they sign him (he is a Restricted Free Agent). [Mile High Hockey]

He played borderline first pair minutes on the team and had very good defensive and 5v5 impacts. His expected goals numbers have been great for his past two seasons, but he’s suffered under poor shooting percentages on the Islanders.

Other notable signings:

Tyler Toffoli - 4 years, $17 million - Montreal Canadiens

Kaapo Kahkonen - 2 years, $1.45 million - Minnesota Wild

Alexis Lafreniere - 3 year entry level contract - New York Rangers

Zayde Wisdon - 3 year entry level contract - Philadelphia Flyers

Erik Gustafsson - 1 year, $ 3 million - Philadelphia Flyers

Brad Richardson - 1 year, $1 million - Nashville Predators

Lucas Wallmark - 1 year, $950,000 - Chicago Blackhawks

Mattias Janmark - 1 year, $2.25 million - Chicago Blackhawks