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Lightning Round: Mark Stone getting the Nikita Kucherov treatment

If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying

Tampa Bay Lightning v Vegas Golden Knights
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 20: Mark Stone #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights, Nikita Kucherov #86 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and William Karlsson #71 of the Golden Knights fight for the puck in the third period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on February 20, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights defeated the Lightning 5-3.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Tampa Bay Lightning fans got a lot of flak online because Nikita Kucherov was injured following hip surgery for the entirety of the 2020-21 shortened season. Kucherov came back for the playoffs, allowing the Lightning to overwrite his cap hit during the season, after repeated failed attempts to shed salary during the offseason.

This season, the Vegas Golden Knights are doing the same — but arguably worse — thing and putting Mark Stone, who has a vague back injury, on LTIR in order to activate midseason acquisition Jack Eichel.

My takeaway to all that is this: if you’re not bending, you’re not winning. Heck, if you’re not cheating, you’re not winning. At this point, all the teams whose execs throw up their chins and balk at the moves need to get off their high horses and read the CBA so they can start winning. It’s legal, it’s allowed, so why not take advantage.

If a player is out anytime before the trade deadline up to the end of the season, keep them out and try to use that LTIR pool for maximum benefit. If a team can only afford 20 players under the cap, play one short and get an emergency exemption rather than lose a player for the space.

And while we’re at it, what’s so wrong with a luxury tax in the NHL? Let teams go over the cap, make them pay a tax on it (which can then be spread to teams with only 5k seat arenas) and watch GMs throw money away! It’s a win-win scenario.

Lightning Links

It’s a Bolts game night tonight as Tampa Bay visits New Jersey at 7pm.

Justin provided an update on the Syracuse Crunch, who had a less than ideal trip through Laval. [Raw Charge]

“For Coach Ben Groulx, a lack of high-intensity practices during the week are starting to show the cracks in the Crunch’s game. His mantra all season long is that they aren’t the most talented team and need to outwork the other team to have a chance to win. That was apparent throughout the week as Laval just seemed to be the better team.”

The Montreal Canadiens traded Tyler Toffoli to the Calgary Flames for Tyler Pitlick, Emil Heinemann, a 1st (top 10 protected), and a 5th. Pitlick is a guy, Heinemann has underwhelmed in the SHL at age 20, so this trade is pretty much for the first round pick. [Habs Eyes on the Prize]

“Toffoli, 29 years old, is in the second year of a four-year contract, with a cap hit of $4.25 million per season. He has nine goals and 17 assists in 37 NHL games this season. In 89 games with the Canadiens, he had 37 goals and 33 assists in the regular season. He played 22 playoff games and had five goals and nine assists.”

Highlight of the night: this assist from Mitch Marner