The Tampa Bay Lightning are the Stanley Cup Champions in 2020. It is an amazing accomplishment and one that no doubt should be celebrated but it sounds like the celebration in Tampa Bay may have been very short lived indeed.
The Lightning were thrust into the offseason just days after their Stanley Cup victory and it has already resulted in the Lightning's management creating some seismic waves throughout the National Hockey League. The first seismic shift came when it was revealed that the Lightning had asked forward Tyler Johnson to waive his no trade protection, something that he initially refused. Johnson has since been placed on waivers, cleared waivers, and is now rumored to have expanded his list of teams with the threat of being sent down suddenly very real.
That in and of itself would be shocking, but just a few days ago NHL insider Elliotte Friedman made comments that sent another seismic wave across the NHL. Friedman carefully chose his words so as to not make the declaration an official one, but there was no mistaking that he was clearly insinuating that the Lightning were looking to trade their captain, Steven Stamkos.
I do believe Stamkos was asked to consider waiving his no-move by Tampa Bay. There’s a wall of secrecy around it, and the captain is recovering from surgery. Obviously, his health is a huge factor.
That is some wild stuff right there. Stamkos is a beloved player in Tampa Bay and unsurprisingly a fan favorite, but there's also no doubt about the fact that his health issues have caused a great deal of frustration for the Lightning in recent years. Stamkos was unable to perform at all in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this time around, with the notable exception of a very short appearance in the final itself. Even that however was over before it even really got started, and resulted in Stamkos further injuring himself.
Given the questions that surround his health and the salary cap considerations that the Lightning will have this offseason, I can see why they would approach Stamkos, shocking as it may seem. The Lightning captain has 4 more years at a cap hit of $8.5 million and perhaps more importantly the Lightning have players like Erik Cernak, Mikhail Sergachev and of course Anthony Cirelli who all need new contracts that will likely include significant raises for each of those players.
Stamkos did not reveal which teams might have interest in Stamkos at this time, however he did indicate that the Golden Knights had been one of the teams considering the move prior to signing Alex Pietrangelo to a huge new contract.