At the end of the day it's still nice to have a league (warts and all) where the best team isn't determined solely due to which city has the best nightlife, the best media opportunities or which star can tamper and wreck other teams to put his buddies on the roster.
You need a combination of a couple of players with elite skill, a hot goalie, no one on the roster that is a complete liability, injury luck, and a few breaks from the officiating in the NHL. If you’re missing any of those things you probably lose.
There are only really 2-3 difference makers in the entire NBA, so just that dynamic makes for what you just described.
I disagree with this a lot. This is a middle of the pack team going by age with the most important guys signed thru their best years. They need to remake their D, but I expect the Bolts to be active in moving some of their forwards to redo the salary structure. Their worst contracts among their forwards are Stamkos (30 years old and signed thru '25 which is too long at $8.5M/year), Gourde (28 YO, signed thru '25 at $5M/year), and Tyler Johnson (30 YO, signed thru '24 at $5M) which is probably their worst contract. Balance that against Kuch being signed thru eternity but only 27 YO at $9.5M, Point who has another 2 years before hitting RFA, and Killorn signed for another few years at reasonable money. They may not love the Hedman and McDonagh contracts in 3-4 years, but that's a problem then--those guys should continue to be an elite top pair for another 2-3 years. Vasi is also signed thru eternity at big money, but he's 26. This team ain't going anywhere. Lastly, I freakin' love Point's game. The guy would've won the Conn Smythe if not for that pesky Hedman fella.
They're going to have to move out the middle class on their team. They have $5.3 million in cap space with only 15 players signed. Notable RFA's are Sergachev, Cirelli and Cernak.
The Tampa offseason will be similar to the 2010 Blackhawks. That Chicago team won the Cup then had to trade Versteeg, Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd due to the salary cap. They took a short term step back (finished 8th in the West in 2011) but obviously went on to win 2 more Cup's. Tampa's going to have to do the same thing- trade out the middle class. They have $5 million in cap space with only 15 players signed, and notable RFA's Sergachev, Cernak and Cirelli. They'll have to move 2 or 3 of the Killorn, Johnson, Gourde, Palat group. They all make between $4.5 and $5.3 million. They are going to have to fill in the gaps with the Schenn's, Bogosian's, etc. of the world and ELC's. The good news for them is those 4 players should all have real value so they aren't going to get nothing in return for them. They traded a lot of futures for Coleman and Goodrow (2 1sts and Nolan Foote) but I'd anticipate they could recoup some of those assets in these cap clearing deals.
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