2022-23 NHL Salary Cap: Tampa Bay Lightning’s Start-of-Season Status
We are less than a month away from the start of the 2022-23 NHL season. Training camp starts today. We are almost there. Hockey is almost back!
So let’s celebrate by taking a look at the Tampa Bay Lightning’s salary cap situation to open the season, some of the options they’ll have at the start of the season, and what their trade delay situation might look like in terms of adding players to the roster.
off season review
One of the biggest shocks of the offseason was general manager Julien BriseBois deciding he had to leave Ryan McDonagh and trade him to the Nashville Predators. While this trade had a big impact on the depth of the Lightning’s blue line, it also paved the way for BriseBois to secure year-ahead restricted free agent deals for center Anthony Cirelli as well as for defenders Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak. He ended up with just Ross Colton and Cal Foote as the only big restricted free agents to face next summer.
In the McDonagh deal, BriseBois added big right-handed defender Philippe Myers at the back as part of a recovery project. Myers had a few good years for the Philadelphia Flyers, but dropped out last season with the Nashville Predators and also ended up in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies for part of the season. BriseBois signed Myers to a one-year extension at a lower cap for 2023-24 that will take him from $2.55 million this year to $1.4 million next year.
Unfortunately, the team had to let Ondrej Palat walk in free agency as they simply weren’t able to make things work with him. I expected this to happen, but had a tiny bit of hope that they would be able to find a way forward. It looked like Palat was ready to listen, but they couldn’t make it work. The Lightning re-signed Nick Paul, however, giving him a long-term contract with a cap of $3.15 million per year.
On the free agent front, the team brought back a former organization first-round pick in Vladislav Namestnikov to help make up for the loss to Ondrej Palat up front. At fullback, the Lightning signed defenseman Ian Cole to take the third left side on the blue line for a year. Additionally, the Lightning brought in Haydn Fleury on a minimum two-year contract to add depth to the organization and fill an early-season void while Zach Bogosian recovers from an off-season shoulder injury. season.
Speaking of shoulder surgery, Zach Bogosian and Anthony Cirelli will be on the shelf for the first month or two of the season after both had shoulder surgery over the summer. Both will return to action early enough in the season that I’m not particularly worried about their absence and its impact on the team throughout the season. The length of their absence will be long enough that the team will also use the long-term injury reserve on both players, reducing the impact on the salary cap of their first absences of the season.
Alright, now let’s get to the part you’re probably here to read. The salary cap. At least I hope you’re here to read up on that part.
The salary cap for the 2022-23 season is $82.5 million. Since Cirelli and Bogosian will start the season on long-term injured reserve, the first step is to consider what roster you want to be on when the two return. Since LTIR only provides salary cap relief for as long as the player is on LTIR, and no player misses the entire regular season, any salary the Lightning adds in his place must be removed upon his return. .
To start, we’re going to add up the players who I expect to be on the roster later in the season when everyone is fully healthy.
- Attackers – Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Alex Killorn, Anthony Cirelli, Steven Stamkos, Nick Paul, Brandon Hagel, Ross Colton, Vladislav Namestnikov, Pat Maroon, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Corey Perry
- Defense – Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev, Ian Cole, Erik Cernak, Philippe Myers, Cal Foote, Zach Bogosian
- Goalkeepers – Andrei Vasilevskiy, Brian Elliott
In this configuration, the Lightning have 12 forwards, 7 defensemen and 2 goaltenders with $1.2 million of space remaining. This means the Lightning have a spot for an additional forward, but can only have two additional total skaters on the roster (a forward and a defenseman).
This gives us a free spot on the roster for a striker who can be on the roster for the whole season and would be the 13th striker after Cirelli’s return. Once we’ve backed Cirelli and Bogosian, there’s a bit more room to work due to Cirelli’s $4.8 million cap. The Lightning would then be able to carry three additional skaters for a full roster of 23 players.
For Bogosian, that player is Haydn Fleury. It’s a fairly easy one-for-one replacement and you don’t need to worry much about it. When Bogosian is back, as long as no one else on the blue line is injured, Fleury can be canceled to make room for Bogosian. By the way, I expect the start of the season to be a big practice session for Cal Foote and Philippe Myers. If one of them struggles and Fleury shows he’s reliable, it could be one of those two that winds up on the trading block to make way for Bogosian instead. Waiver of Fleury is the most likely scenario, but I can’t rule that out, so keep that in mind for later.
With Cirelli’s higher salary cap, he gives the Lightning the option to replace him with two forwards. For training camp, that means there should be good competition for the three open forward positions. It also means these three players can compete while Cirelli is off the roster for that long-term spot, with two of them returning to Syracuse (if they manage to pass the waivers) when Cirelli returns and the winner of the contest remaining on the list.
When it comes to mid-season, the Lightning’s trade prospects aren’t great. As I noted above, with players expected 12/7/2, the Lightning have $1.2 million in cap space before the 13th forward. Due to Brent Seabrook’s LTIR, this total will not increase. This, however, means the Lightning can trade (or waive) a roster player for a rental. The exact heading shot the Lightning can take will depend on which player is moved and which 13th forward (which could be the same player).
To illustrate, let’s take a few examples. If the 13th forward was Cole Koepke with a cap of $842,500, the Lightning would have $357,500 of cap space. If the Lightning traded or waived Koepke, they could add a player with a cap of $1.2 million, or up to $2.4 million with salary continued by the other team. If Koepke was the 13th forward, but the Lightning traded Philippe Myers with his $2.55 million cap for another defenseman, then that defenseman could have a $2,907,500 cap with no salary withholding or up to $5.815 million with salary cap retention.
While it’s not exactly money in, money out like last year for the Lightning, it’s pretty close as the team will have between $350,000 and $450,000 of playing space. salary cap beyond any player they move to facilitate a trade.
The three points of attack
While it’s not exactly salary cap related, I wanted to quickly run through the candidates for the three forward positions that will be open to start the season.
- Alex Barre-Boulet – Barre-Boulet once had his NHL chance, but couldn’t stick it out. He hasn’t been able to show that his high-end offensive production in the AHL can translate to the NHL level. His skating and speed aren’t top of the line and as a small player you usually need them. I think he has a good chance of earning one of the initial three spots, although his actual performance at the start of the season will determine whether he can stay on the roster after Cirelli’s return. Barre-Boulet needs waivers to go to Syracuse, although last year he was claimed by Seattle, played a game and a half and then acquitted on waivers, so there is little chance he will be claimed.
- Gemel Smith – Smith is a veteran. It is a safe choice. He plays center and wing in a fourth line role. He’s a useful striker. It requires waivers, but is unlikely to be claimed. He’s also well-equipped to sit in the press box, but the organization could be better served by bringing him to Syracuse and playing hockey since he’s missed quite a bit of time with an injury l last year.
- Cole Koepke – Ever since Ross Colton graduated from the NHL, Koepke has been the player I’ve been looking to possibly be the next Colton. He also went the NCAA route and is an older prospect as he is already 24 years old. He plays a style quite similar to Colton, but only has a year of professional experience under his belt. He’s waived, so he’s also a good option to start the season and if he doesn’t earn the permanent spot, it will be easy to return to Syracuse.
- Gabriel Fortier – Fortier got a taste of the NHL last season as the Lightning struggled with a series of injuries up front. It’s a bit of a Swiss army knife that plays with a lot of energy and rhythm. He hasn’t always shown that in his cup of coffee, but with a bit more experience and confidence under his belt, he could benefit. He also has the advantage of being a capable penalty killer which would help Cirelli’s absence. It is also exempt from exemption.
- Simon Ryfors – Ryfors joined the Lightning last year as a free agent from Sweden. He took a while to adapt to the North American game, but began to activate it later in the year as he got comfortable and scored 11 goals and 35 points in 72 games for the Crunch. I consider Ryfors more of a dark horse here and we’ll have to see how he does in training camp and how far he’s progressed in his game. He’s also waived.
- Gage Goncalves – I would also consider Goncalves a very longtime dark horse, but he’s closer to the NHL than any other prospect I’ve named. He scored 17 goals and 32 points in 70 games as a rookie for the Crunch last year. I think he still needs more development time before he gets a shot in the NHL. He’s a player who could still end up being a tweener similar to Barre-Boulet where he has the skill to make it work in the AHL, but maybe not enough to make it to the NHL.
Questions about the roster will be answered in the coming weeks, but BriseBois will still have work to do to guide the roster throughout the season.