The Montreal Canadiens embarrassed themselves out of the Stanley Cup Final last night, failing to score at all, again, and handing the Tampa Bay Lightning a well-earned victory, their second in a row.

Tampa Bay Lightning clinch Stanley Cup with 1-0 win over Montreal Canadiens

Nikita Kucherov summed it up best.

Though I think you should know this is what he looked like at that post-game presser.

And if you missed all the post-game pomp, here’s the video, including Andrei Vasilevsky winning the Conn Smythe trophy, or as someone else put it better:

And there were some local festivities.

Resistance is futile

The good news is the Leafs can still be the team that finally brings the Cup back to Canada, and that’s what really matters!

The bad news is that the Lightning look completely capable of winning it all for a third time and I am not sure any team can stop them from doing that. Vasilevsky is simply a force field in front of the net, and the Lightning have behaved like the Borg, quickly adapting to every change of strategy or new tactic any opponent throws at them, often on the fly in game; they don’t need to wait for a video review to see what went wrong in a loss, they adjust every period and win. It’s a potential dynasty in the making here, and it’s by a team in the Leafs division, meaning an obstacle to face in any future playoffs, and that is a big challenge.

So now what?

Now a chain of events begins, the first of which is the contract buyout window opening first thing tomorrow, and also teams submitting salary arbitration elections for their restricted free agent players. For your reference, we have a full event calendar, and a refresher on how the salary cap works in the off-season in these items.

Maple Leafs and NHL Offseason Schedule
Maple Leafs Offseason Salary Cap Space

The first big event this summer is the Expansion Draft, and it’s coming up fast; less than two weeks now. We’ll have a more detailed timeline of Expansion Draft events in an article at 9:00 a.m. this morning, but the first important step is the trade freeze which begins in advance of the draft on Saturday the 17th. This means teams must finalise their rosters over the next eight days before the new Seattle Kraken get to comb through and take one of the available players. You can expect some wheeling and dealing all over the league to happen in advance of that, potentially even a rumoured move by the Maple Leafs.

Beyond that, there’s also the regular Entry Draft at the end of July, and our world famous PPP Maple Leafs Top 25 Under 25 series which will begin about two weeks after that. So stay with us all summer! It’s lonely here at the kitten ranch by ourselves (and the 40 billion kittens).

Other News

Chicago Steel Promote Mike Garman to General Manager - On Tap Sports Net
The Steel also elevated Noëlle Needham from assistant GM to Associate GM. Needham joined Chicago in 2020 after two years as a scout for the Maple Leafs. She will now oversee the Steel’s scouting department and staff.