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Lightning Round: How is the overheated defenseman market affecting the Lightning?

Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak are going to get paid

NHL: FEB 13 Oilers at Lightning Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Yesterday, the Edmonton Oilers signed defenceman Darnell Nurse to a massive, eight-year deal with a $9.25M cap hit. Nurse had a very strong 2020-21 regular season, scoring 16 goals and 20 assists in 56 games. His 16 goals were the second-most for a defenceman last season.

This deal is the latest in a chain of very expensive, high-risk deals for a defensemen during this off-season. Big stars like Cal Makar and Dougie Hamilton got paid, as well as some slightly lower tier players, including Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets and his former teammate Seth Jones of the Chicago Blackhawks. All signed deals with a cap hit more than $9 million. Given the relatively young age of Nurse, his contract is still projected to be pretty good by its end.

The overheated defencemen market however could affect the Tampa Bay Lightning in the future. The team managed to keep their defensive core for the next two seasons, but the summer of 2023 will be pretty tough for them as two of their top blueliners – Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak – will need to be re-signed. Sergachev especially will be up for a big raise and could potentially ask in the range of seven million per season or more. His offensive production hasn’t increased as much as it was expected, however his 30 points last season still ranks in top-30 by total points amongst other defencemen.

On the other hand Erik Cernak has emerged into a shutdown defenceman role over the past seasons and his next contract might be very similar to Adam Pelech’s, who signed an eight-year, $5.75M AAV extension with the New York Islanders yesterday. According to Pelech has a better offensive impact than Cernak, but their defensive metrics are pretty much similar.

Given the Lightning’s current cap crunches and a slowly rising salary cap, both of those extensions could put the Lightning into a very tough situation. Earlier this week Geo analysed a potential Lightning salary cap situation for the next three seasons.

Lightning/Hockey news

Pat Maroon showed up at the St. Louis Cardinals game yesterday and was honored to throw the first pitch.

The Anaheim Ducks re-signed Isac Lundestrom and Sam Steel to new contracts.

The Seattle Kraken have signed defenceman Vince Dunn to a two-year contract.