The Tampa Bay Lightning are coming off a Stanley Cup victory. It came with an epic boat parade that was fit for a college frat house. Once again, the Tampa Bay Lightning are up against the salary cap, and they can’t put Nikita Kucherov on LTIR again. The entire league is looking at the Lightning after going $18 million over the cap (although some of those deals were trading for injured players).
Right now, the Lightning are already over the salary cap. They likely want to re-sign either Blake Coleman or Barclay Goodrow, but ideally both. They also have restricted free agents they have to re-sign. After trading away a lot of their top picks to go on these two Stanley Cup runs, the cupboard is bare when it comes to top NHL prospects. They need to make some moves to make all of this work.
The New Jersey Devils make a ton of sense in a deal with the Lightning. Tampa is stacked when it comes to defensive talent, and some of them are young. This would make them an ideal candidate to make a move with the Devils. Even after the Ryan Graves trade, the Devils need more defensive talent, especially if the Kraken might take P.K. Subban or Will Butcher in the expansion draft. Meanwhile, the Devils have the two things the Lightning desperately need; cap space and high-upside prospects.
These two teams have made trades before. The most recent example is when the Lightning traded Nolan Foote and a first-round pick for Blake Coleman. Coleman was a catalyst to the team’s two Cup runs, and as we said before, now he’s a free agent. It’s ironic that deals with the Devils could lead to Coleman re-signing, but the Lightning need to make moves just to fill out that roster. Sure, maybe they can get saved in the expansion draft or with another surprise injury, but it’s more likely they can move one of their very good players for a package that works as a win-win similar to the J.T. Miller deal.