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Lightning Round: NHL teams that need to make a move

And as always, the Nazem Kadri question.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 10: Rasmus Sandin #38 of the Toronto Maple Leafs plays the puck against Mathieu Joseph #7 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period at the Scotiabank Arena on October 10, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

The salary cap is a lie, until it isn’t. Here are the teams that are in a hole without an obvious way to fix it. And as always, the Nazem Kadri question.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Right now with a 21-player roster (and some simple choices with waivers), the Leafs are about $730k over the cap ceiling. If they send down that extra player, they would be able to squeeze under the cap just barely. But is that enough? Not when Rasmus Sandin is still unsigned. Because even if he takes league minimum, the Leafs will either have to be stuck with 11 forwards, or waive Mark Giordano or another defenseman. That seems like a terrible idea if you ask me.

This is not a good place to be in for the Leafs because they’ll be in trade negotiations with other teams knowing they are desperate. Why wasn’t a trade done earlier in the summer before free agency? I don’t know. But depending on what Sandin makes, expect one of Justin Holl or Alex Kerfoot needing to go.

Florida Panthers

As of today, the Florida Panthers are sitting $3.375 million over the salary cap ceiling on a 22 player roster. Unless they’re planning to send Radko Gudas and a friend to the minors, they need to make a move to stay cap compliant. I think what’s going to happen here is Patric Hornqvist will fail a medical at the start of training camp, giving them about $2 million in breathing space using LTIR on a 21-player roster.

LTIR is the only solution here because the Panthers don’t have a first round pick in any of the next three drafts to use as compensation for Arizona taking Hornqvist, so it’s probably LTIR for the 35-year-old who played 75 games last year including the playoffs.

New York Islanders

The Islanders don’t need to make a move unless the rumours that they’ve signed Kadri are true. I think they have a deal in place, on the condition Colorado doesn’t give in. Things are slower in Colorado this summer with the Stanley Cup going on tour with the employees. It’s hard to trade someone on their day with the Cup, or have contract negotiations with Nathan MacKinnon while he’s drunk in bed sleeping with Stanley.

Whether or not this delay is Colorado’s fault or another Lou Lamoriello power trip, if the Islanders don’t sign Kadri, they’ll be perfectly fine putting together a more-or-less average roster. If they do go ahead and sign him, they’ll need some space to fit their three RFAs.

Colorado Avalanche

Whether or not the Avalanche are able to bring back Nazem Kadri, they will need a second line centre. Either they can plan to bring one in at the trade deadline and run with JT Compher for 60 games that probably won’t be too difficult, or they can do it now.

Going back to Kadri, there are interpersonal pressures to possibly keep the championship team together, and it’ll probably lead to Kadri taking less than elsewhere on the open market, but I think the main reason keeping him from staying an Av is Nathan MacKinnon’s looming extension next summer. With Erik Johnson likely retiring next year and everything else being equal, can the Avalanche fit Kadri and MacKinnon within about $16 million? It’s tough but possible.

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets were a team in this position after signing Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine, but then traded Oliver Bjorkstrand for peanuts to Seattle during this dead period of the summer. Let us laugh at their terrible decision making, especially when they also signed Erik Gudbranson to a 4x4 contract.

Lightning Links

Lightning seventh round pick from last month, Klavs Veinbergs, scored on Latvia’s loss to Finland.

Carolina, who acquired Max Pacioretty earlier in the summer, will have to wait until February until they can play him. It’ll be worth the wait because Patches is still a heck of a player.