Put on some comfy pants, load up the calculator on your phone and sit back in a comfy chair. We’re going to get a little armchair GM action going here.
In one of the more intriguing scenarios we could see this summer, the idea that Erik Karlssoncould use his UFA powers to join the Tampa Bay Lightning is a mind-bending salary cap exercise. How exactly could the Lightning, already one of the seven teams facing cap hell, also afford the biggest name available? It’d take some massaging of the roster for sure, but don’t scoff at the possibility.
“I still think Erik Karlsson’s going to be this year’s John Tavares,” Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston said on The FAN 960 in Calgary. “Taking a few suitors and getting wooed and seeing what’s out there. I think that he’s going to leverage the market and really make a life decision for himself.
“It would be a surprise to me if we see him sign an extension before June 23 when he’s able to officially start talking to other teams.”
Tampa Bay is facing some tough questions anyway, but the fact they followed up a record-tying 62-win season with a first-round sweep perhaps makes giving a jolt to the roster a little more urgent.
You’re not going to tear this thing down or trade your best players, but if you can add someone on Karlsson’s level for a relative bargain it would be worth exploring. They’ve tried to get the player a few times before and with Julien BriseBois in the GM’s chair now, he may not be as attached to the moveable pieces on the roster as the former GM who put them there.
Other teams such as the New York Rangers, ones with plenty of cap space and an opening window to move out of a rebuild toward contention, may be more natural or plausible landing spots. But the Lightning are a legitimate dark horse in this race.