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Lightning Round: Cap Space Relief is Slowly Disappearing for the Bolts

There is a lot to do, but nothing yet.

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Tampa Bay Lightning Victory Rally & Boat Parade
TAMPA, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 30: Nikita Kucherov #86 of the Tampa Bay Lightning hugs the Stanley Cup as Patrick Maroon #14 speaks during the 2020 Stanley Cup Champion rally on September 30, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Five days into free agency, while the Tampa Bay Lightning have taken care of some business around the edges of their roster, the major roster issue has yet to be solved.

Nate Schmidt and his $5.95 million has gone to Vancouver for a third. Andreas Johnsson and his $3.4 million to New Jersey for a prospect. Impressive RFA Devon Toews for two seconds to Colorado. $6.5 million of Paul Stastny to Winnipeg. Ryan Murray and Erik Gudbranson both moved with ~$4 million changing hands. Money has moved, space is disappearing, and still no deal by the Lightning.

There were strong rumors about Tyler Johnson leaving the team — he was even waived at one point! — but no takers. It doesn’t seem like anyone wants to help out the Lightning at the moment. I guess that’s par for the course.

Looking ahead, if no one wants to take a contract off the books, maybe JBB and team have to look at enforcing a buyout. For Johnson, it would save about half of his $5 million cap hit next season, which is not enough to re-sign both Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev. Nervously ruffling through potential trade options yields a handful of teams with the cap space, but it seems clear it’s going to cost the Lightning to create the space, rather than positive value coming back.

For comparison, Patrick Marleau had one year and $6.25 million left on his contract and he cost a first round pick (that ended up being 13th overall in 2020). Johnsson has four years of term left on his deal, maybe it’ll have to cost that high pick and a contract coming back or retained salary in the deal. I don’t want to be JBB right now. This is a tough situation.

Lightning Links

The ECHL is on hold, like all other professional hockey in North America. A mid-December start is on the books at the moment, but it’s hard to see even that coming to fruition. Tracey with the story. [Raw Charge]

Julien BriseBois climbed everest and assembled a championship team. But now he has to maintain its competitiveness. Could that possibly be an even harder task? [ESPN]

Joe Smith got a little more granular and looked to see what could possibly happen for the Lightning to be able to afford their roster. [The Athletic]

Erik Erlendsson spoke to Steven Stamkos about his 2020, including all the injuries and his Stanley Cup Finals goal. [Lightning Insider]

A big congratulations to the Tampa Bay Rays, who are one game away from the World Series. We know that feeling over here and it’s exhilarating. In the fog of 2020, the little pockets of Tampa Bay sports excellence has been a welcome breath of fresh air (with masks on, of course).

The Dallas Stars face more furloughs as the owner faces more financial difficulties. In a normal world, this team would’ve gotten so much playoff revenue, it’s such a shame. Heartbreaking. [The Athletic]

And don’t forget to vote!