After Stanley Cup, Lightning, Stars have offseason decisions to make
SportsPulse: The Tampa Bay Lightning captured the franchise’s second Stanley Cup title and former goalie Kevin Weekes explains why it should by no means come with an asterisk.
The Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning have had their core together for years and hope to be able to carry that forward.
Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Ryan McDonagh and Andrei Vasilevskiy are signed long-term and Brayden Point has two years left on his deal before he becomes a restricted free agent.
Even a couple newcomers, Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow, are signed next season.
But defense could be an issue, with Mikhail Sergachev due a raise as a restricted free agent. Erik Cernak is also restricted.
Kevin Shattenkirk, who signed after being bought out by the New York Rangers and scored in overtime in Game 4, is an unrestricted free agent. So is Zach Bogosian.
They’ll also have to re-sign restricted free agent forward Anthony Cirelli. Back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Pat Maroon is unrestricted.
The Lightning’s projected cap hit is about $76 million, according to capfriendly.com, and the salary cap for next season is flat at $81.5 million.
Goaltender Ben Bishop is signed for another three years, but he has had injury issues, including this postseason. Anton Khudobin played admirably in Bishop’s absence, and he is an unrestricted free agent.
Other unrestricted free agents include defenseman Andrej Sekera and forward Corey Perry.
Forwards Denis Gurianov, Radek Faksa and Roope Hintz are restricted.
Defenseman Miro Heiskanen, who had a breakout postseason, will be in the final year of his entry-level contract next season, so the Stars could try to negotiate an extension with the 21-year-old.
Interim coach Rick Bowness, 65, and the Stars will decide if he’ll assume the full-time job after he replaced fired Jim Montgomery during the season. General manager Jim Nill said earlier that Bowness has earned the right.
“I still have the passion to compete,” Bowness said after Monday’s loss. “I still have the passion to coach. … I’ve always told my family that on the day I wake up and I don’t want to go to the rink, then I know the passion’s gone. We’re not there yet. I’m just going to keep pushing.”