Tampa Bay Lightning
Should Worry About
Simply stated, they’re the Tampa Bay Lightning. They have two-time Richard trophy winner Steven Stamkos, 2018 Norris trophy winner Victor Hedman, 100 point player Nikita Kucherov, and 2018 Vezina finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Not to mention Ryan McDonagh, Yanni Gourde, Brayden Point, Tyler Johnson, and Ondrej Palat. The Tampa Bay Lightning are stacked. Which is why they’ve gone to the Eastern Conference Finals three out of the last four years as well as the Stanley Cup finals once.
Tampa, much like Long Island is a small hockey market. It’s not that they don’t support their team, but hockey is not top of mind to the entire community like the Toronto Maple Leafs or even the Montreal Canadiens. It’s a market that perfectly suits Tavares.
Shouldn’t Worry About
What plays in the Islanders favor is the Lightning’s cap space. With the salary cap ceiling going up to $79.5 million the Lightning have $10.561 million in space. That leaves little room to fit Tavares into the fold.
Keep in mind that next season Nikita Kucherov needs to be signed. We can all expect him to receive a significant bump to his current $4.766 million deal after 188 points over the last two years.
Both Yanni Gourde and Brayden Point are in the same situation as Kucherov. Gourde and his 64 point rookie campaign, and Point’s 60 points in his second season are going to get big raises as well.
Yzerman can’t max out the cap now when there’s so much left to sign next season.