The Tampa Bay Lightning are the 2020 Stanley Cup champions and all players pointed out how close they all became and supported one another throughout this unique postseason, in which they were away from their families for more than two months in very uncertain times. They couldn’t have done it without one another and it was magical to see them celebrate together on the ice of Rogers Place in Edmonton, unable to do so with their extended family and loved ones, holding iPhones to get in touch with them instead. That group of guys will never be the same. Literally, because just than 24 hours after winning the franchise’s second championship, general manager Julien BriseBois was already shopping some of his top players.
At the opening on free agency, the Lightning shocked fans by placing top forward Tyler Johnson on waivers in the hopes of getting rid of his hefty contract in order to respect the salary cap. No one took on his deal and BriseBois will probably have to pay far more than he would prefer to move Johnson, or any other player like Alex Killorn and Yanni Gourde for that matter.
Then earlier this week, the Bolts re-sign defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, placing them above the $81.5 million flattened salary cap by $1.9 million. BriseBois did acknowledg he’ll have to move players to free up sufficient cap space to sign restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak, whom he is confident he’ll get under contract.
“There’s a lot of progress being made,” he said. “We’re working on a bunch of different fronts, there’s a lot of balls up in the air. Nothing has materialized yet.”
This prompted team insider Joe Smith of The Athletic to report that the Lightning has a move in place or in the works to clear cap space. Smith believes Johnson remains the top trade candidate this offseason, despite that trade chatter has been quiet on all fronts for a while. Many insiders are adamant that in order to move him , the Bolts will need to package Johnson with another asset to move him and his $5 million AAV off their books.
While Killorn also remains a good options, NBC Sports’ Adam Gretz also lists Yanni Gourde and Ondrej Palat as trade chips.
As you can see a lot can happen, and it sure sounds like it will be coming soon. Get ready for some action on the trade market.