Back-to-back salary cap champion Lightning are envy of NHL

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Long before the Tampa Bay Lightning showed they were the best hockey team by winning the Stanley Cup back to back, they proved to be the class of the NHL in something far more mundane to the average fan: managing the salary cap.

With a little luck along the way, general manager Julien BriseBois made all the right moves to position his team for consecutive championships. Exploiting every loophole and unafraid to give up assets to shed salary and make the money work, he went all in and it paid off.

“The stars kind of aligned for us,” BriseBois said.

So, why don’t more teams follow the Lightning’s lead? Many try, but few have an elite goaltender like Andrei Vasilevskiy and other homegrown players at premium positions. Most GMs also tend to take fewer risks than BriseBois.

“The real advantage that Tampa has over most teams or all teams is Vasilevskiy,” said Jim Rutherford, the only other GM to win the Cup back to back in the cap era with Pittsburgh’s titles in 2016 and 2017. “They’ve got the anchor there. They know what they’re getting every game, and as long as he’s what he is today — which should be for quite a long time — they’re going to be a contender.”

Vasilevskiy and playmaking winger Nikita Kucherov are under contract through 2027, top center Brayden Point through 2030, No. 1 defenseman Victor Hedman through 2025 and captain Steven Stamkos through 2024. They take up more than half of the $81.5 million cap limit and the Lightning lost a handful of players in a salary crunch during the offseason, but their championship window is still open for likely the next three years.

Chicago GM Stan Bowman, who has won the Cup three times, has been through this before and applauded BriseBois for making so many calculated moves.

“When you’re in the moment, though, and you’re him, you do things for short-term reasons and you try to win,” Bowman said. “He’s rightfully so getting a lot of credit because he’s walking the…



Source : yahoo

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