Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Lightning, who managed to become just the second team to win back-to-back Stanley Cups in the cap era.
The Lightning went all-in for the second straight season, bringing back their core and trading their first-round pick for the second straight season, and thanks to some clever cap gymnastics, Nikita Kucherov returned for the playoffs and led the team in scoring. Now that the season is officially over, they have to address the big elephant in the room: The Lightning has to break up.
According to CapFriendly, the Lightning are the only team over the cap heading into the offseason. With the salary cap staying flat at $81.5 million, they are a little over $5 million over the upper limit with 19 players on the roster. Key role players including David Savard, Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow are set to be UFA and young contributors Cal Foote, Ross Colton and Alex Barré-Boulet will need new contracts. It seems unlikely any of their pending UFA’s will return; with 29 percent of their cap already allocated to defensemen, Savard will likely get a more lucrative contract elsewhere and Coleman may be headed home to Dallas, according to Bally Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland.
There are numerous ways to get under the cap, but barring another LTIR-related move, there’s no question the Lightning will have to shed a contract or two. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the only untouchables are Kucherov, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner. Given how each of them has performed in the playoffs, it’s safe to assume that list has not changed.
The most obvious path to shed salary is through the expansion draft. Based on Matt Larkin’s projected protect list with four defensemen, the Kraken will have a good pool to pick from, including Ondrej Palat, Yanni Gourde, Alex Killorn, Tyler Johnson, Pat Maroon and a slew of young players ready to graduate from the American League. The problem with this path is it gives the Lightning very little control and consists mostly of them crossing their fingers that the Kraken will tap into the local talent pool and select the Spokane-born Johnson, who was waived but went unclaimed at the beginning of the season. To ensure the Kraken does take Johnson, the Lightning may have to part with a draft pick or prospect.
But, when it comes to trading, everyone knows the Lightning are in a tough spot and they won’t have much leverage in trade negotiations. The good news is that the Lightning has plenty of players who should be of interest to multiple teams, including captain Steven Stamkos. It seems unthinkable Stamkos would be available after he turned down other offers to remain with the Lightning in the fateful summer of 2016, but the Lightning cannot afford to save a little here and there; they are over the cap by such a significant amount with spots left to fill that moving a big contract will give them the most flexibility going forward.
Stamkos has a no-movement clause which may hamper the Lightning’s ability to get a fair return, but the main goal is the get under the cap. Not saying it will happen, but Stamkos could do his new team a favor and ensure they don’t give up too much for him in case it hurts their ability to compete; remember, Dominik Hasek reportedly did something similar when he threatened to nix a trade to the Red Wings if the Sabres asked for too much in return, according to ESPN. Stamkos’ power-play prowess will be a significant loss; over the past three seasons, he ranks fourth in the league with 39 power-play goals even though he’s played fewer games than the three players ahead of him.
Palat has one year remaining with a $5.3 million cap hit, and he’s an enticing piece for a team looking for a one-year rental in the hopes of a 2022 Cup run. His modified no-trade clause gives the Lightning a list of 20 teams they can deal with, but note that Palat’s base salary is backloaded in the final year, making teams that are strapped for cash something to consider. Palat’s a strong two-way player and his expiring contract gives the Lightning some flexibility moving forward, but if there’s a line the Lightning would be unwilling to break up, it’s probably their top line.
Gourde just signed a six-year extension in 2018 but also has some control over his future with a no-trade clause. His contract carries a $5.16-million cap hit with four more seasons remaining, and he was part of an outstanding checking line that should be held in the same regard as the Red Wings’ Grind Line from the ‘90s that won multiple Cups. Losing Gourde, along with Coleman and Goodrow in free agency, would also force the Lightning to revamp their penalty kill, which ranked fourth in the season.
Cirelli makes a lot of sense with a $4.8 million cap hit with two more years remaining and he will be an RFA when the contract expires, which gives the Lightning more control. He’s a strong two-way forward with plenty of upside at just 23 years old, and has proven to be a clutch player going back to his days with Oshawa in the Ontario League. He should be a big piece of their core moving forward, but if the Lightning are backed into a corner and find no takers for the other contracts they would rather shed, it may force them to part with Cirelli, but it’s an easier pill to swallow with two Cups under their belt.
The Lightning would also prefer to keep Ryan McDonagh, who has five more years remaining at $6.75 million per season with a no-trade clause, and Mikhail Sergachev, who has two years remaining at $4.8 million per season and will be an RFA in 2023. Sergachev is more desirable due to his age and contract, but trading either would really hurt the Lightning’s depth on defense when the league is becoming more aware of the importance of quality depth and mobility on the blue line.
In any of these paths, the Lightning will surely lose a talented player. One way to quantify how much the Lighting may lose is through hockey-reference.com’s Point Shares, which calculates the number of points a player contributes to his team over the course of a season. Adding the Point Shares of each player who suited up for their respective team should add up to the team’s point total in the standings with an average absolute error of 5.05 points per 82 games. The Lightning’s players accumulated 73.6 Point Shares during the 2021 season and the team finished with 75 points in the standings.
The Lightning will still be a very good team, but the loss of free agents Coleman, Goodrow and Savard is equivalent to about three wins, and if either Stamkos, Cirelli, Palat or Gourde become cap casualties, that’s another three to five wins lost. But, having a healthy Kucherov, who recorded at least 10 Point Shares over his past four regular seasons, should help stem some of the losses. Barré-Boulet and Colton, who scored the Cup-clinching goal, will certainly get a chance to be NHL regulars.
It would’ve been a long shot anyway, but no team has won three straight championships since Al Arbour’s Islanders in the early ‘80s. The Penguins have come closest in recent years, and interestingly enough, the Lightning are in a similar situation where they will lose a key player; the Pens’ shot at a three-peat ended in Round 2 against the eventual Cup-winning Capitals in 2018 – the year after they lost Marc-Andre Fleury to the Vegas expansion draft.
Makar gets love from Orr after winning 2022 Norris, Conn Smythe Trophies – NHL.com
Canuck icons Henrik, Daniel Sedin, Sens star Alfredsson lead 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame class – CBC Sports
Henrik and Daniel Sedin entered the NHL together.
The superstar twins then tormented a generation of opponents with the Vancouver Canucks throughout dominant careers that included mesmerizing displays of skill, individual accolades and unprecedented team success.
It’s only fitting the talented brothers will walk into the Hockey Hall of Fame side-by-side.
The Sedins headline the class of 2022 elected Monday, one with a decidedly West Coast and Swedish feel that includes former Canucks teammate Roberto Luongo, fellow countryman and former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, Finnish women’s player Riikka Sallinen and builder Herb Carnegie.
“It’s not what you think about when you when you play the game,” said Henrik Sedin, who along with his brother and Luongo were in their first years of hall eligibility. “We’ve always just put our head down and tried to put in our work.
“What we were most proud of is that we got the most out of our talent.”
“Truly an amazing feeling,” Luongo added on a media conference call. “It feels surreal.”
WATCH | Daniel and Henrik Sedin have numbers retired in Vancouver:
Alfredsson, who’s has been eligible since 2017, thought he might have to wait at least another year until the phone rang at his home in Sweden.
“It’s such a privilege to be able to play this sport for a living,” he said. “Something I would have played for fun for my whole life without a question.”
“I’m probably the second-best Daniel out of this group,” joked Daniel Sedin, who along with his brother will be 42 when the induction ceremony takes place in November.
“Couldn’t be more honoured.”
Henrik Sedin — selected No. 3 overall at the 1999 draft, one spot behind Daniel — is Vancouver’s all-time leader in assists (830), points (1,070), games played (1,330) and power-play points (369).
The centre won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP and the Art Ross Trophy as its leading scorer in 2009-10. He added 23 goals and 78 points in 105 playoff games, including the Canucks’ run to the 2011 Stanley Cup final.
If Henrik was the passer on what was one of hockey’s most dangerous lines, Daniel Sedin was the trigger man.
His 393 goals are first in team history, and the winger sits second in assists (648), points (1,041), games played (1,306) and power-play points (367).
Daniel Sedin won the Ted Lindsay Award as the league MVP as voted by NHL Players’ Association members in 2010-11 to go along with the Art Ross Trophy. He added 71 points in 102 playoff games.
“Just watching them work with each other on the ice and literally knowing where they are without even seeing each other was something that always blew my mind,” Luongo said of the Sedins. “They’re great teammates. Everybody loved them, great people.
“Not so great card players, but that’s for another day.”
The hall’s 2020 edition was finally inducted last November after a delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic after officials decided against naming a class of 2021.
The 18-member selection committee met in-person this year for the first time since 2019.
Luongo’s storied career began with Islanders
Luongo started his career with the New York Islanders and wrapped up with the Florida Panthers.
His best moments, however, were on the West Coast.
When he retired, Luongo ranked third in NHL history with 489 wins, a number that’s since been surpassed by Marc-Andre Fleury.
The 43-year-old sits second behind Martin Brodeur in three goaltending categories — games played (1,044), shots against (30,924) and saves (28,409).
Luongo twice won 40 games with the Canucks, including an eye-popping 47 victories in 2006-07, and made at least 70 appearances in four straight seasons.
“He was the difference for us to get the next level,” Henrik Sedin said. “If you’re talking about a winner, he’s the guy.
“Never took a day off.”
A finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder on three occasions, Luongo sat behind only Sidney Crosby in Hart Trophy voting following his 47-win campaign.
The Montreal native won two Olympic gold medals, leading Canada to the top of the podium in Vancouver in 2010 before backing up Carey Price in Sochi four years later.
“It’s a really, truly humbling experience,” Luongo said before adding of the Sedins: “And the best part of the whole thing is that I get to go in with two of my favourite teammates of all time and two of the greatest people I know.”
Best line in hockey <br><br>Luongo-Sedin-Sedin
Alfredsson scored 444 goals in 18 seasons
Alfredsson put up 444 goals, 713 assists and 1,157 points during his 18 NHL seasons.
The face of the Senators for a generation in the nation’s capital won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year in 1996, and added 100 points in 124 playoff contests.
“We looked up to the way he plays hockey and what kind of person he is,” Henrik Sedin said.
Alfredsson, who won Olympic gold with the Sedins in 2006 and led Ottawa to the 2007 Cup final, thanked Senators fans for helping him get over the hall hump, including a social media campaign this spring that included boosts from the organization and former teammates.
“Really special with the support I’ve had from Ottawa throughout my career from the beginning until this day,” said the 49-year-old, who owns the franchise record for goals, assists and points. “They’ve been a real big supporter of mine and trying to help me get into the Hall of Fame.
“They’re behind me all the way … it goes both ways.”
Sallinen played 16 seasons with the Finnish women’s national team, winning Olympic bronze in both 1998 and 2018.
She added a silver at the 2019 world championships to go along with six third-place finishes. In all, the 48-year-old scored 63 goals and added 59 assists in 81 games for her country.
Hall of Fame selection committee chair Mike Gartner, who was inducted in 2012, said on the media call that Sallinen had yet to be informed of the honour, but quipped she should pick up the phone and dial in if she was listening.
Carnegie, who died in March 2012 at age 92, has often been mentioned as the best Black hockey player to never play in the NHL.
Following a long career in senior hockey where he faced racism that kept him from achieving his ultimate dream, Carnegie founded Future Aces, one of Canada’s first hockey schools, in 1955.
He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2014, and was also named to the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada.
“This is so important to so many people out there who believed in my father,” said Herb Carnegie’s daughter, Bernice. “Whether he was golfing or whether he was in business or whether he was working with thousands upon thousands of young people, it always came back to hockey and how his how he learned so much from the game.
“I am so proud.”
Report: Nets’ Kyrie Irving opting into $37M player option for 2022-23 season – Sportsnet.ca
NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving has decided to exercise his $36.9 million option for the coming season and will remain under contract with the Brooklyn Nets, two people with knowledge of his decision said Monday.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the Nets had not confirmed the decision publicly.
The Athletic first reported Irving’s decision. “Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow. I’ve made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall,” the outlet quoted Irving as saying.
On Twitter, Irving posted a separate statement: “I know who I am,” was the message there.
For now, that still means a member of the Nets.
The seven-time All-Star averaged 27.4 points and 5.8 assists this past season for the Nets, with whom he has spent the last three seasons. He’s about to enter the final season in a four-year, $137 million deal with Brooklyn.
Irving had until Wednesday to inform the Nets of his opt-in decision. It closes one element of the ongoing saga regarding Irving’s future, which has been one of the biggest storylines as the league prepares for the start of free agency later this week.
He appeared in only 29 regular-season games this past season, largely because of his decision to not be vaccinated against COVID-19. That made him ineligible to play in most of Brooklyn’s home games, until getting an exemption to New York City’s mandate in the spring.
The Nets entered this past season thinking they would have a core of Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden. It didn’t work out anywhere near as planned; Irving wasn’t with the team for the majority of the season, Harden ended up getting traded to Philadelphia, the Nets needed to survive the play-in tournament just to make the playoffs and wound up getting swept in the first round by eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston.
Back in March, Irving was asked if he was planning to return to Brooklyn for next season. He gave no indication otherwise.
“I love it here,” Irving said at the time. “Once that summertime hits, I know that we’ll have some conversations. But there’s no way I can leave my man 7 anywhere.”
Summertime hit. The conversations apparently didn’t go as first planned.
And “my man 7” — that meant Durant, who wears jersey No. 7 for the Nets — may have been seeing his point guard departing, a move that certainly could have led to Durant pondering his own future in Brooklyn.
But with Irving presumably back, and with Ben Simmons — who didn’t play at all this season and was acquired by the Nets in the Harden trade — set to team up alongside Irving and Durant this coming season, Brooklyn could quickly return to contender status.
Irving could have made this all go away over the weekend, or at least turned the full boil down closer to simmer, when asked by Complex News at the BET Awards if he still wants to play for the Nets. He declined to answer. He wasn’t rude about it, did it with a smile, but didn’t provide so much as a hint.
A tiny one came Monday when the clip was posted to Instagram and Irving was among those to comment.
“When I smile like that, it means there’s more to the story,” Irving wrote Monday, several hours before his opt-in decision was revealed. “I’ll have my time to address things.”
NBA free agency opens Thursday at 6 p.m. ET.
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