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Lightning Round: trade market reheating as teams look to fix their cap issues

The Knights are shopping Pacioretty and we uhh, well, yeah.

Vegas Golden Knights v Tampa Bay Lightning
TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 4: Max Pacioretty #67 of the Vegas Golden Knights against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on February 4, 2020 in Tampa, Florida.
Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

The news yesterday has put the chance of a 2021 NHL season from the fridge into the microwave. Weird analogy, I know, but I needed an excuse to share this video:

Cap Trades

NHL teams have a deadline now to get their rosters in order in time for training camp. There won’t be much opportunity for trades once the season starts, especially over the border, and AHL/NHL transactions are likely going to be discouraged. The roster a GM makes will be the roster they keep for as long as the whole season, potentially.

The first bit of action we saw was from the Vegas Golden Knights, they have been talking to teams about Max Pacioretty (still a very good player) with names like Jonathan Marchessault coming up along with now-backup goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. The Knights need to get rid of some salary, like the Tampa Bay Lightning, so I’m sure JBB is also in his home office fielding calls from the same teams as Kelly McCrimmon.

Roster Sizes

More news, in order to protect players from travelling between NHL and AHL cities, the league and NHLPA have discussed expanding rosters slightly in order to give teams some more injury replacements. On here, it seems like those players would count against the cap. This could end up being the case since I doubt depth players will agree to get paid a minors salary while they sit in a box in the NHL. Usually the tradeoff is paid or playing.

However, for a team like the Lightning, this expanded roster won’t help since there’s likely only going to be enough cap space for 21 players after everything shakes out. I have to think the league and players won’t leave a team like the Lightning high and dry with a short roster.

And going back to the US/Canada situation, teams like Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver are definitely going to need bigger rosters for as long as the border stays closed. None of those three teams have the cap space for more than 23 players at the moment. Counting extra players against the cap just isn’t feasible, in my opinion. My guess is taxis squads will be listed as non-roster players with the ability to get called up to the 23-man roster like normal call-ups. Perhaps they get paid a portion of their NHL salaries while on the taxi squad, but that’ll need to be negotiated.

AHL Update

Over to the AHL, here’s what the league could look like next season. Of course, the four Canadian teams will be playing only each other — that won’t get boring quickly — with the American teams likely staying within their divisions. Hershey, Lehigh Valley, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton join the North Division, replacing Toronto, Belleville, and Laval. For the Syracuse Crunch, not having to play the prospect-heavy B-Sens will be a treat, but the Hershey Bears have always been a top team.

Here is the current list of AHL- and NHL-contracted players who have been loaned to the ECHL. The PHPA have negotiated that only eight players can be loaned from the NHL and AHL so as to keep ECHL-contracted players on the ice. The Lightning and Crunch have maxed out their list.

Rest of the News

Among the items in the microwave, RFA signings have begun again. Philippe Myers with the Philadelphia Flyers being the most recent.

In prospect news, McKade Webster scored his first goal in a long while! He’s played only have a season in the last two years (wrist injury) so getting off on the right foot in Denver is definitely good news.

Court proceedings have begun in a case against the CHL that will hopefully mark major change in the league’s culture and shockingly perpetual system of harm. Do not read the allegations if you aren’t really ready for it.