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FTB: Lightning can exploit cap tricks by last year’s Leafs

And who can they get?

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game One
TORONTO, ON - MAY 20: Riley Nash #20 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Montreal Canadiens in Game One of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on May 20, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Canadiens defeated the Maple Leafs 2-1 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs carried a lot of LTIR baggage that I don’t think they expected to encounter last season. After starting the season under the ceiling and without any dead cap hits, the Leafs dealt with many injuries that ultimately limited their cap space at the trade deadline. One trade they did make was for Riley Nash. Nash was on LTIR in Columbus, and at the time the Leafs had enough “space” to fit his contract. They made the deal and then put him back on LTIR a day later. They were then able to “stash” him until the playoffs, at which point both he and the team disappointed.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are in a similar situation as Nikita Kucherov just injured his groin, his second major injury in as many seasons. Right now, they have $9.6 million in LTIR “space” to fit some players to replace him. The team was already in LTIR after acquiring Brent Seabrook’s albatross deal over the summer. They could, in theory, acquire a player who is “done for the season” in the hopes that he will come back in time for the playoffs. That player, let me be extra clear, won’t be Kucherov. He expects to play at the Olympics so the Lightning only have this window of extra space for a limited time.

So now the question becomes: who?

  1. Paul Byron is currently on the Habs LTIR and has hip surgery that’ll keep him out for five months. He’s no superstar Adam Brooks, but he’s a decent bottom-six player that could supplant the inexperienced bottom-six the Lightning is currently running. And hey, he can play with Corey Perry again!
  2. Brandon Sutter is still dealing with COVID-19 symptoms and is on a one-year deal. Maybe they can convince him to come over, and if he’s healthy the Lightning can play him. If he’s not, it doesn’t hurt them cap-wise.
  3. Evgeni Malkin would be crazy. But maybe it’s just crazy enough to work? No, maybe it’s just crazy. Sorry to all my Pens fan friends who just blocked me on twitter and are presumably sending something smelly to my house.
  4. Maybe Jonathan Toews wants to go back on LTIR for some made-up reason again and come over?

Whoever it is, it won’t be Jack Eichel, who is out indefinitely as he tries to get his surgery. He won’t be healthy at any point this season and possibly next, and next season the Lightning won’t have the space, period.

Poll

What do you think the Lightning will do?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Byron/Sutter
    (45 votes)
  • 9%
    Malkin/Toews
    (31 votes)
  • 33%
    Nothing
    (114 votes)
  • 43%
    I refuse to read the article and thus vote Eichel
    (148 votes)
338 votes total Vote Now

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