We’re officially in the off-season. Finally. Now we talk about.....hmmm...next season? No, can’t do that, we don’t know when it’s actually going to start. The draft? No, can’t really do that since the Lightning don’t have any picks until Day Two. Free agency? Well, that will be tough because they don’t have any cap room.
So, how about we keep focusing on the fact that the Tampa Bay Lightning are your Stanley Cup champions? Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. Don’t be so quick to move on to new things. Take the time to truly enjoy what the Lightning pulled off. You never know when it might be the last title a team wins one (New York Jets fans know what I’m talking about, right?)
Both Geo and I wrote about the happy, but somewhat bittersweet victory by the Lightning. It really was remarkable that the Lightning pulled it off. So many teams get close, have a setback and then never recover. Think of the San Jose Sharks - just a few years ago they were in the Stanley Cup Final. A couple of early playoff exits and then, even last year they were in the Western Conference Final. Now? That team couldn’t make the expanded playoffs this year and are looking at a rebuild that may take a few seasons. They got to see the summit, but couldn’t make it to the top of the mountain - the Lightning did.
That’s pretty special. So take a couple of more days to enjoy it. Fire up the game on your DVR and watch it again (this time without any stress because you know the outcome). Go buy some more merchandise, because you can never have too many t-shirts. Go decompress somewhere (socially distanced of course), you just watched a lot of hockey in a short amount of time.
Go have fun. There will be time enough to worry about salary caps and no-trade clauses in the immediate future. We’ll be hear to talk about it when it happens.
It may have been the best plane ride in their lives. The Lightning bundled up all of their dirty laundry, their gaming consoles, their unread books, and, oh yeah THE STANLEY CUP and jumped on a plane from Edmonton to Tampa. After an entire baseball regular season away from their family and friends, they were reunited. Hugs were dished out and babies finally placed in the Cup for photos.
The team then jumped on some trolleys and headed to Amalie Arena for a special gathering for the executives who weren’t in Edmonton, families and some VIPs. The Captain had some words for the crowd.
It took less than 24 hours to fire up the trade speculation machine. There is no doubt that Julien BriseBois has his work cut out for him over the next few weeks. Pierre LeBrun kicks things off by discussing the $10 million the Lightning have to shed to get every one signed. After mentioning the usual names like Tyler Johnson he drops a casual little nugget stating that a source told him that there may be some names in play that no one is expecting. Ohhhhh intrigue! [TSN Insider Trading - may be geolocked]
Around the League:
We are officially in the buyout period for contracts and the worst kept secret in New York (other than Chicago pizza is better) is that Henrik Lundqvist has played his last game in a Rangers uniform. Multiple sources confirmed that the team will be buying out the future hall of fame goalie as they look to save money and move on to their next generation of netminders.
Did this move lead to envision a world where the Lightning trade Andrei Vasilevskiy for a bevy of picks and prospects, then sign Lundqvist to a minimal contract, and then go on and win another Stanley Cup? Yes, yes it did, but can you blame me, I’m running on about two hours of sleep.
In all likelihood, Lundqvist is heading back to Sweden to finish out his professional career and leaves the NHL as one of the best goaltenders in history to never raise the Stanley Cup. The buyout will leave the Rangers with almost $13 million in dead cap space next year (when you include Kevin Shattenkirk’s, Ryan Spooner’s, and Dan Girardi’ buyouts with Lundqvist’s). That’s one way to manage your assets. [Blue Shirt Banter]
The league has announced it’s official draft order for next week. With no picks in the first round, the Lightning won’t have to unclick the mute button on their Zoom call until sometime on Wednesday when they make their first pick in the second round at #62 (but will be the actual 61st pick because Arizona forfeited their second round pick due to misbehavior). They’ve never drafted 62nd in the organization’s history. They have had the 61st pick twice and used if to select Matt Elich (1997 - 16 career games with the Lightning 1 goal, 1 assist) and Andreas Holmqvist (2001 - never played in the NHL). [NHL.com]
That’s all I’ve got for today. If you’re going to the Boat Parade / Rally - have fun but be smart. Wear a dang mask and wash your hands.