How much could the Tampa Bay Lightning Free Agents fetch this summer?
Guys, calm down, this is (maybe, but probably not) the last Lightning off-season deep dive. But this one is probably better, to be perfectly honest, because it isn’t just an opinionated blurb from me, an 18 year old kid with no degree in anything. That’s right, I’m contacting real experts!
What Is It This Time?
Evolving Wild has put together contract projections, and Sean Tierney gathered their data to make a visual, in which I gathered to inform you readers. What you guys do with this information is completely up to you, but let’s keep the chain going. Anyways, back to the meat of the article. The Lightning have $8,576,669 in cap space. Here’s the projections.
I personally highlighted Brayden Point, who is projected to take a 5 year deal worth an average of $8,244,551, which is a $42,212,755 contract over 5 years. With that deal, the Lightning are left with precisely $332,118. That takes everyone out of the equation, but we can go into the negatives. Anton Stralman is all but officially gone at this point, that’s just the universal truth, so I will go with the next player, and that’s Braydon Coburn. I love Coburn’s game, and would love to see him back, but at what cost?
According to the visual, Coburn will receive a 2 year deal worth an average of $2,122,458, which is a grand total of $4,244,916 over the 2 years. I believe it is well worth it to keep him around, and with that contract on the books, the Lightning will have a cap space of -$1,790,340. That looks a lot like for my bank account. But on to the next paycheck! Cedric Paquette is the picture you see in the dictionary when you look for the words “fourth line center”. He is the picture perfect player in that role, and I want the Lightning to bring him back before a Coburn deal is made (if ever).
Paquette is looking at a 2 year deal worth an average of $1,463,096, which is a total of $2,926,192 when the contract is all set and done. With that deal, it knocks down the Lightning cap hit to a grand total of… drum roll please…. -$3,253,436. Beyond that, Adam Erne, Dan Girardi, Cameron Gaunce and Danick Martel can walk. If they buy out Ryan Callahan, they save $3,133,333, which gives them -$120,103. That is much better looking, but still not enough. Consider call-ups, like Alex Barre-Boulet, who has a cap hit of $759,258 on his entry level contract. That, ultimately, gives the Lightning a much more daunting debt of -$879,361. Trade Tyler Johnson, who has a cap hit of $5,000,000, or trade Alex Killorn , who has a cap hit of $4,450,000, or trade Ondrej Palat, who has a cap hit of $5,300,000. That’s a lot of numbers, but what they ultimately mean is one of them must go, or even two of them. Lots of people lean more towards trading Killorn, but in reality, he may not be enough being traded by himself. Reason being, you are going to get another player in return for that Killorn deal, and what cap hit will that player have? If he’s not playing at the NHL level, then do you re-sign Martel or Erne? Do you go outside the organization and sign someone there, and at what cost? With all those moves, you still only have 5 defenseman on the main roster. Calling u Callan Foote is affordable, but are you even sure he’s ready for a full-time spot on the roster? So maybe Foote isn’t that option, so do you trade for a defenseman, and at what cost?
Julien BriseBois has quite the doozy of an off-season ahead of him, and while he does get the most important player of the bunch back, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions and open spots that need to be filled. The best plan would be to qualify Point’s Restricted Free Agency, allowing him to hit restricted free agency, temporarily. Stay tight in contract talks to ensure he sticks around. Re-sign Paquette and Coburn comfortably and re-evaluate a contract for Point. Move the necessary player’s to free space for not only Point, but for Barre-Boulet and any other depth forwards or defensemen they want to acquire. It won’t be easy, but if the cards are played right, this could be a masterful job by BriseBois at the end of the day.
Salary Info via Capfriendly
Projected salary visual via Sean Tierney, gathered from Evolving Wild
Featured Image Credit: Justin Miner