Here's the good news:
By re-signing Steven Stamkos on Tuesday, the Lightning has ensured it will keep the core of its team together for next year and beyond.
And the not-so-good news:
By re-signing Stamkos on Tuesday, the Lightning has ensured it will be difficult to add to the core of its team next year and beyond.
Sure, it is wonderful to know that Stamkos will be skating around in a Tampa Bay uniform for another five years. He absolutely needed to be signed. And, as the length of the negotiations indicated, it was going to take every nickel available to get it done.
But, man, is this going to make life hard for general manager Steve Yzerman.
Between Stamkos and Vinny Lecavalier, the Lightning has committed more than $15 million in salary cap space to two players. Add Marty St. Louis to the mix, and that's more than $20 million in cap space for three players.
That's not unheard of, but it is fairly unusual in today's NHL. Only a handful of teams had such top-heavy salary structures last season. We're talking Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin paychecks or Alexander Ovechkin/Nicklas Backstrom deals.
The Lightning does get a break with the salary cap increasing to $64.3 million this year, but it still limits the kind of players that will fill out the roster.
This is why Simon Gagne is not back in Tampa Bay. This is why the Lightning ignored other goaltenders to re-sign soon-to-be 42-year-old Dwayne Roloson to a cost-efficient one-year deal. And this is why Brad Richards had to stop laughing before he could tell the Lightning that, no, its offer was not going to be quite enough.
In a perverse sense, this is all kind of wonderful. The Lightning has three of the top offensive players in the NHL, and most GMs would kill to have that kind of problem.
But it is, ultimately, something of a problem.
"You have the choice, you either pay them the going rate in the market or you elect to let them go and acquire more pieces at a lower price," Yzerman said Tuesday. "With good players you do your best to hold on to them.
"Steven Stamkos was the first pick in the draft. The things an organization has to go through to get those kind of players is difficult and painful. We're just dealing with reality. Really good players are going to get paid. There's only so many of them out there."
Here's the good news: