Previous to the beginning of 2019 NHL Free Company on July 1, Tampa Bay Lightning common supervisor Julien BriseBois was busy. Rumors swirled across the franchise, connecting them to main free-agents like Erik Karlsson and Joe Pavelski.
With the Lightning heading for an impending cap-crunch, although, a signing was seemingly unimaginable. Regardless of this, a daft draft-day commerce that despatched J.T. Miller and his $5.6 million per 12 months cap quantity to the Vancouver Canucks appeared to open up sufficient wiggle room for BriseBois to make one huge signing.
One 12 months after signing a five-year extension, J.T. Miller was traded to the Vancouver Canucks by the Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
Nevertheless, since free-agency began, the Lightning have been comparatively quiet. In addition to addressing a necessity at goaltending, no main signings have been made.
This begs the query, have the Lightning carried out sufficient to enhance as groups round them add big-name free brokers?
Lightning Refusing to Make Errors
There’s a easy reply as to why BriseBois has largely refused to spend cash in his first free-agency. He has discovered from his time within the league that overspending on a participant in free-agency can have drastic destructive results on a franchise.
Let’s use Pavelski and his three-year, $21 million contract by the Dallas Stars as a dialogue level. For the Stars, this value could possibly be effectively price it, as they have been determined so as to add a top-scoring expertise to their roster.
Regardless of exhibiting curiosity in Joe Pavelski, the Lightning have been unable to land the big-name free agent. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
For the Lightning, although, Pavelski would have been a luxurious addition. They’re a group constructed on scoring depth, and whereas he’s higher than numerous their top-forwards, at that value, his contract might turn out to be an anchor to the franchise by 12 months three.
If the Lightning received a Stanley Cup throughout these three seasons, then that danger would have been effectively based. Nevertheless, with the cap all the time current, one high-risk contract could possibly be sufficient to value an excellent younger expertise in a 12 months or two.
Lightning Leaning on Depth
As an alternative of taking dangers at free-agency, BriseBois has as an alternative chosen to belief his depth gamers. By not making a significant signing, he has proven that he believes in his younger gamers to fill within the gaps.
It begins on protection, the place the Lightning had a transparent want for a everlasting companion for Victor Hedman. Whereas a big-name free agent might have been the right match, BriseBois has as an alternative proven that he believes Mikhail Sergachev is able to tackle the position. If he’s proper, then Tampa Bay not solely discovered a companion for Hedman but in addition has a younger, cost-controlled participant who can be with the group for years on an affordable contract.
Behind Sergachev, the Lightning have Cal Foote, their first-round decide from the 2017 Draft. Foote is a type of younger defensemen who seems able to make the roster out of coaching camp. Whereas he’ll seemingly begin the 12 months with the Syracuse Crunch, when he will get his first call-up, he might simply lock down a beginning position as Erik Cernak did within the 2018-19 season.
Coming into his third season with the Lightning, Mikhail Sergachev seems primed to take over a top-pairing position alongside Victor Hedman. (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports activities)
On the ahead entrance, the Lightning are at the moment brimming with younger gamers able to tackle an even bigger position with the franchise. First is Carter Verhaeghe, who was the highest scorer for the Crunch final season. Given how effectively he performed, he shouldn’t solely make the roster out of coaching camp, however he might threaten to work his approach right into a top-six position if given the chance.
The Lightning even have gamers like Alex Barre-Boulet, Mitchell Stephens and Alexander Volkov, who can be combating for a bottom-pairing position with the franchise. With these gamers probably prepared to start out within the NHL, signing depth veterans in free-agency actually would simply muddle the scenario.
Lightning Made Good Decisions in Free Company
By selecting to largely sit out his first free-agency as common supervisor of the Lightning, BriseBois has made the good, secure choice. Given the sum of money and time period getting thrown round, it might have been nearly unimaginable for the group to choose up a free-agent at an affordable value.
Associated: 2019 Draft a Massive Win for Lightning
This isn’t an ideal plan by any means. These younger gamers might not be as able to tackle an NHL position as we expect, and the Lightning could need to scramble to fill holes of their roster at coaching camp.
Nevertheless, there isn’t a assure that an costly free-agent will match with a franchise both. Previous to the beginning of the season, that is all a little bit of a raffle. By trusting his depth and never dolling out huge contracts, BriseBois will nonetheless be capable of place just a few bets with out risking shedding every thing ought to he be flawed.