Where Do The Lightning Go From Here?

With the first round over, let’s take a second to recap one of the biggest upsets shall we?  According to NHL.com’s playoff predictions, 48% of the brackets had the Tampa Bay Lightning winning the Stanley Cup, and just under 2% of people had Columbus beating the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. The playoffs have been such a surprise that only one bracket had the New York Islanders sweeping the Penguins and Blue Jackets beating the Lightning. The user; who goes by “lolwat” actually noted that he only made such drastic picks to annoy his friend. With that being said, what does the future look like for the Tampa Bay Lightning?

The team at Not Your Average Hockey Blog isn’t very excited for the 2019-2020 Tampa Bay Lightning. We recently did an episode focused on this exact topic, and you can check it out here. Our analysis suggests that the Lightning will be in for a cap crunch soon. We expect players such as Killorn will have to be traded soon to make space for the big RFA elephant in the room; Brayden Point. Our team had a difference in opinion how much we expect Brayden Point to earn, but one thing is for sure; it will be expensive. Capfriendly currently projects the Lightning to have just over $6.3M in cap space, and we all know that just won’t cut it! So who do we expect the cap casualty to be, and what is the price the Lightning will have to pay? Unlike the past there is no longer the cap dump team that teams could just unload their bad contracts on (we’re looking at you Arizona.). If the Lightning do want to package a pick or prospect with Killorn to clear some space, the Lightning are in good shape. They have their upcoming 1st round pick, 3rd round pick, 4th round pick, two 6th round picks and a 7th round pick. Will they have to trade it away as part of a package for a salary dump? If not, what options are there in terms of prospects?

The Lightning’s secret weapon over the last few years has been their scouting. Tyler Johnson was undrafted, Ondrej Palat was a 7th round pick, and Nikita Kucherov was a 2nd round pick. Their cupboards remain stocked with NHL ready prospects such as Carter Verhaeghe, Taylor Raddysh, and Cal Foote. Could it be possible that they can be a cheap replacement for departing players?

Maybe the team here at Not Your Average Hockey Blog is wrong. Maybe the odds are in the favour of the Lightning. According to SBD, the odds for Tampa Bay winning the President’s trophy were about +150 or a 40% chance, but had identical odds of +150 of being eliminated in the first round of the 2020 playoffs. That’s drastically difference in comparison to this year, when they entered the postseason as -375 favorites (~79% chance) to advance past the Blue Jackets. Given how similar the roster is going to look next year, anyone willing to bet on Tampa Bay to win in the first round now is likely getting a better payout than those who wait until the 2020 playoffs actually commence.

Now that you’ve heard both sides, what do you think? Should you consider waiting before placing a bet, or are you in the camp of higher risk, higher reward. Let us know what you think below!

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