The Tampa Bay Lightning came so close. The season just ended, so it’s time to look forward toward the next NHL season. Which of our players will return, and who will not?
In this salary cap world of NHL hockey, there are cap issues that can keep teams from keeping all the players they want. The Lightning were right up against the cap, so there may be issues re-signing some players whose contracts may be up. They may also trade off someone to make room for others. What do we know now?
The salary cap for the 2021-2022 season was $81.5 million. We know it will rise to $82.5 million for the 2022-2023 season. Looking at the contracts, we have some idea of who will be a free agent, and who is signed for 2022-23 and possibly beyond.
The forwards currently under contract and their salary cap hit include:
- Nikita Kucherov ($9.5 million)
- Brayden Point ($9.5 million)
- Steven Stamkos ($8.5 million)
- Anthony Cirelli ($4.8 million)
- Alex Killorn ($4.45 million)
- Brandon Hagel ($1.5 million)
- Ross Colton ($1.125 million)
- Corey Perry ($1 million)
- Pat Maroon ($1 million)
- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare ($1 million)
That comes to a total of $42,375,000.
On defense, the Lightning have:
- Victor Hedman ($7.875 million)
- Brent Seabrook ($6.875 million)
- Ryan McDonagh ($6.75 million)
- Mikhail Sergachev ($4.8 million)
- Erik Cernak ($2.95 million)
- Zach Bogosian ($850,000)
- Callan Foote ($850,000).
That comes to a total of $30,950,000. However, to throw a fun wrench into the equation, Brent Seabrook’s playing days are over due to injury, so even though he’s listed, there’s a rule that allows long term injuries to be offset in the cap, so that means his salary won’t affect the cap.
Between the pipes, Andrei Vasilevskiy will return for $9.5 million. His backup goalie, Brian Elliott, will also return with a salary of $900,000.
Totaled, it all comes to $83,725,000. Remove Brent Seabrook, and it comes down to $76,850,000. That gives about $5,650,000 to fill in the open slots. Players whose contracts are over, making them either restricted or unrestricted free agents includes: On offense, Ondrej Palat and Nick Paul, and on defense, Jan Rutta.
Will those unsigned players get signed to new contracts? Each of those three are unrestricted free agents, allowing them to sign with whoever they’d like. Perhaps there are players in the Tampa Bay Lightning minor league system who may be ready to step up to the NHL level when camp begins. We’ll need to wait and see.