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Lightning Round: I guess we’re in the offseason now

The team on the field is done, now it’s time for the off-ice team to put their work in.

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2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The parades are done. The hangovers are kicking in. For the players of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the off-season has begun. They can begin recovering from the nicks, cuts, pulled muscles, and other assorted injuries that accumulate after playing 25 games in 65 days. Their job is over. For General Manager Julien BriseBois and his staff (minus one, more on that in a bit) the hard work begins now.

Once the trade deadline passes, the job of the GM is pretty much over and he can only hope that the moves he made prior to that were enough to get the job done. For once, Mr. BriseBois can relax knowing that all of his efforts paid off with a Stanley Cup. Hopefully, the last few days were pretty relaxing because now the fun begins.

The challenges he faces this offseason are dramatically different than the ones he faced last season. Following the disappointing loss to Columbus, he had a clear idea of where the Lightning needed to improve and he had some room to make that happen once he cleared out JT Miller’s cap hit.

This season the difficulty doesn’t lie in finding the missing pieces to complete the Stanley Cup puzzle, it’s trying to keep those pieces from disappearing while operating on a razor-thin margin in terms of cap room.

He has to figure out how to re-sign his Restricted Free Agents, including a couple that might actually entice an offer sheet from rival teams, replace the free agents he’s going to lose, and get the team under a salary cap that is nowhere near as large as he thought it would be when he was last able to make deals.

No big deal, right? In his Zoom call with the media on Thursday he admitted the most obvious thing in the hockey world - some of the players happily carousing around the stage Wednesday night will be playing in different cities next season. Winning the Cup is hard enough, defending it might be even harder.

The Lightning

As mentioned, the general manager held his end-of-the-season call via Zoom on Thursday. Our own Matt Esteves was on the call and provided a running thread of what Mr. BriseBois had to say. The good news is that he didn’t think any of the players that suffered injuries (including Steven Stamkos) will have their playing time affected next season.

It was an interesting look on how the man in charge comes to his decisions, why he made the moves he did, why he didn’t make any moves during the 2019 trade deadline, and how they valued the picks they gave up. Mr. BriseBois also said that he would have regretted not giving this team every chance he could to win the Cup.

The Lightning don’t have any picks in the first round of the draft (yet) but have a bevy of middle round picks, an area that they’ve been very successful at with Al Murray at the helm of their scouting department. On Thursday, the Arizona Coyotes announced that they had lured one of Murray’s lieutenants, Darryl Plandowski, away from the Lightning. Much as Stanley Cup-winning players are seen as valuable commodities by other organizations, so are members of the off-ice staff that had a hand in building those championship teams.

Plandowski, who has been with the Lightning since 2009, will join the Coyotes as their Director of Amateur Scouting under new GM Bill Armstrong. Don’t worry about him helping Arizona steal all of the future NHL All-Stars the Lightning are going to draft next week, Plandowski won’t start with his new team until after the draft has concluded. []

Matt continued his in-depth look at how the 2020 Stanley Cup Champs were constructed with the second part of his series. Part three will be coming on Monday. [Raw Charge]

Yzerman then went to work on re-signings. First, he re-signed Brown and Paquette to cheap two year deals. Then, on one of the craziest days in NHL history, Stamkos re-signed in Tampa Bay on an eight-year $68-million dollar contract. Two days later, Hedman signed an eight-year contract extension worth $63-million dollars, and Vasilevskiy signed a three-year bridge deal worth $10.5-million dollars.

Two of the stars from the first Lightning team to walk together forever, Vincent Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis, reminisced about their victory and shared how the enjoyed the franchise’s newest victory. Vinny4 had some advice for the winners. []

“This year’s team is still running on adrenaline, which will last for two or three days, even longer. They have to think that you might win this only once in your life so you’ve got to take full advantage of it. And it’s funny, after you win it once, you say, ‘Wow, I want to win it again because it was so much fun.’”

It appears the Stanley Cup had some fun on the golf course today.

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Around the League

It seems just about every goaltender not named Andrei Vasilevskiy has been rumored to be on the market this fall. Add Joonas Korpisalo (please not to a team in the Lightning’s division) and Elvis Mezlikins to the mix according to TSN (pay no attention to the part about the NHL not being happy with the Lightning’s celebration). [TSN]

I’ve now heard over the past week that Columbus is listening on their two goalies... Both who had breakout years, both who see themselves as No. 1 goalies and both had good moments in the playoffs. And the reason for it is, you know eventually there won’t be enough net for both of these guys and that they are No. 1 goalies.

The Detroit Red Wings have no intention of re-signing unrestricted free agent Jimmy Howard. The 36-year-old netminder will join the aforementioned crowded market for goaltenders after 14 years with the Wings. [The Detroit News]

“We have to wait until Oct. 9 to really get a good feel to where there’s a fit,” Yzerman said. “We’ll get a better idea next week.”

It looks like the asking price for Coyotes defender Oliver Ekman-Larrson is a first round pick and a prospect. Interested teams are rumored to be Edmonton, Vancouver, and Boston. He would be a decent fill-in should Torey Krug leave the Bruins in free agency. However Eckman-Larsson would cost them a hefty price, not only in assets needed to acquire his services, but he also has seven more seasons at $8.25 million per.

It’s interesting to see multiple teams possibly inquiring about the services of the 29-year-old captain of the Coyotes. If they’re interested in spending that much money to secure their blueline, might they also be interested in the services of a slightly older defender who is a bit cheaper and has a shorter contract? Ryan McDonagh is 31, but has a $6.75 million cap hit for just six more years. OEL might have more of an offensive upside, but teams love the kind of physical play McDonagh brings on defense. Yes, I’m trying to will this into being as I mentioned it on the Jablam Sports Podcast. If it’s a choice between McDonagh and Mikhail Sergachev or Anthony Cirelli, I’ll take the younger players every day of the week.

Next season a Lightning fan watching the game in the Czech Republic may see different dasher board advertisements than a fan in, say Utah, as the league is poised to roll out an innovative ad placement strategy that they hope will make up for some of the lost revenue due to the Covid-related stoppage of play. [CNBC]

The “perimeter signage” technology allows the NHL to replace physical, in-arena sponsors on the boards with interchangeable virtual ads during telecasts. The NHL invested in London-based company Supponor to develop the ads, which Wachtel said will allow brands to have ownership of what appears.

Expect to see the stream of prospects heading over to play in European leagues continue as teams look to get their younger players some guaranteed ice time as the opening date of the AHL season continues to be in question. []

To put it plainly, any return plan for the Crunch and the AHL relies on at least some fans being allowed to attend.

“I’d like to think maybe a February start and we’d play an extended season maybe into the summer which I’d be very supportive of” says Crunch Owner Howard Dolgon.

It’s mock draft season in the NHL and SBNation is no stranger to making some predictions. Things got underway on Thursday with the first five picks. There were no real surprises, well Ottawa taking Lucas Raymond at third overall was a bit interesting. Spoiler - Raw Charge did not trade into the first round. All picks and reasons will be aggregated on this stream. [SBNation NHL]

With Alexis Lafrenière and Quinton Byfield off the board, it was a tight vote from the [Silver Seven Sens] staff deciding between Raymond and German forward Tim Stützle (the final tally was 6-3). The selection does go against the current consensus, but leaves us ecstatic with who we believe is the best player available.

Please remember to wash your hands and wear a mask as you cheer the Tampa Bay Rays on in the playoffs.