Mike's Mailbag: Stamkos, Cap Problems, and Restricted Free Agents
Thanks to everyone who took the time to submit questions to the first edition of Mike’s Mailbag back here on the Lightning blog. Here are my answers to the first set of your questions. Given the complete dearth of Bolts news, I’ll be splitting this up over a few blogs.
Bert asks: How the heck does this team become cap complaint?
There’s really two paths forward for Julien BriseBois and his team on this front:
1) Find takers for Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn, adding significant “sweeteners” to get the deals done. Other rumored possibilities are Ondrej Palat and Yanni Gourde, though my sense is that the team would prefer to keep them both if possible. Smaller moves would include Paquette and Coburn.
2) Walk away from/trade one or two of the high-profile restricted free agents, either Mikhail Sergachev, Anthony Cirelli, or Erik Cernak
Mike asks: I think the Lightning should trade Sergachev because I don’t see him reaching the same level as Hedman. What do you think they should do?
Well, in fairness, you’re comparing him to arguably the best defender in the game. He’s not going to reach that level, but nobody should be expecting him to reach it either. To me, trading Sergachev is the worst-case scenario. With Ryan McDonagh getting older, the Lightning need Sergachev to be that next guy in line. He’s a hugely important piece of that blue line, from my perspective.
Athrin asks: Should the Bolts trade Stamkos to keep Cirelli if they can’t move players such as Johnson/Palat/Killorn?
I don’t think so. Stamkos is on my list of untouchables.
Athrin asks: If the Bolts cannot move Johnson, Palat, Killorn to keep Sergachev and Cirelli, who should they try to move and why?
Assuming all other options have been exhausted: This hasn’t been talked about as an option at all, but I’d try to move Ryan McDonagh and his contract. He was a big piece of the run to the Stanley Cup, but the reality is that he’s a 31-year-old defender with six years left on a deal that pays him $6.75M per season. Put your faith in Sergachev to fill that role on a bridge deal, and cash in on McDonagh while he’s still a valuable commodity league-wide.
Joe asks: Do you think Tampa will keep Sergachev, Cirelli, and Cernak? What cap will they get?
I think they’ll try their absolute best to keep them around. Predicting cap hits is tough in such a deflated free agent market, but here’s me throwing darts at the wall:
Jon asks: Is it more of a priority to keep Sergachev or Cirelli?
From my perspective? Sergachev. Losing Cirelli isn’t ideal, but it’s easy to see the Lightning fill the gap up the middle with Point, Stamkos, Johnson, Gourde, and others still around. Replacing what Sergachev brings is near impossible.
Marek asks: I’m a huge Stamkos fan. How big do you think the chance is that he is going to be moved?
0.00001%. It’s a slim chance.
Marek asks: How do you think Tampa will get rid of Johnson’s contract, as it is kind of a must to sign all three big RFAs?
My guess is they’ll likely have to add at LEAST a first-round pick, and potentially more, to dump his salary from the books.
Marek asks: Who do you think will be the other odd men out? My favorites are Killorn, unfortunately, and then maybe Paquette and Coburn.
In terms of likelihood of being moved, your list is the same as my list.
Back with more soon! As always, thanks for reading.