Lightning forced to ‘get creative’ with salary cap ahead of next season

Sports

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A total of three teams in the National Hockey League have won three or more consecutive Stanley Cup titles.

The Montreal Canadiens won five straight cups from the 1955-1956 season to the 1959-1960 season and won four straight cups from the 1975-1976 season to the 1978-1979 season. The New York Islanders also won four championships immediately after the Canadiens did it. Finally, the Toronto Maple Leafs proudly hoisted the cup above their heads for three consecutive seasons on two separate occasions.

The Tampa Bay Lightning could do it too despite wearing the target that comes with that championship title. They could do it with unforeseen circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic. They could also do it amidst a slew of injuries including broken bones and, for Victor Hedman, a torn meniscus.

“I have a lot of reason to believe we are going to remain a Stanley Cup contender,” Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Julien BriseBois said. “Hopefully, the stars align again for us like they did the past two years and we can go on another magical run and bring back the cup one more time.”

However, could the Lightning do it with a different team, a different group of players?

“The biggest challenge to us being able to do it again, obviously, is the salary cap,” stated BriseBois. “Right now, we have a Stanley Cup winning roster and our challenge to maintaining that roster is the salary cap so we are going to have to get creative.”

The most impactful unrestricted free agents are Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow. The Lightning traded for both of them in February of 2020 before winning the Stanley Cup in a bubble in Edmonton.

“Before I can even bring back some of our unrestricted free agents, you named two, I need to clear up cap space,” said BriseBois. “I need to clear up cap space just to keep the guys that are under contract and, now, we are talking about maybe keeping guys who are not under contract and adding their contracts to our books so it is going to be challenging.”

You could argue both Coleman and Goodrow had their most productive seasons this year and that productivity continued into the playoffs.

Coleman contributed 24 points and Goodrow contributed 12 points to the two Stanley Cup runs.

“The reality is that those two players have earned substantial raises,” admitted BriseBois, “and I may or may not be in a position to be the one that gives it to them.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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