The Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning have been fairly universally lauded for having put together top-tier teams in recent seasons, but both clubs are still looking to bring home the Stanley Cup.
The Predators were eliminated by the Winnipeg Jets in Game 7 of their second round series, while the Lightning entered Tuesday evening’s Eastern Conference Final Game 3 affair against the Washington Capitals still looking for its first win of the round.
During a Tuesday afternoon radio hit on Vancouver’s Sportsnet 650, NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman was asked about the proverbial windows to win for each team moving forward.
“I think that Nashville’s window is still pretty large,” said Friedman. “Rinne, no matter how you feel about him as a goalie, he’s got one more year on his contract, then he’s going to be going on 37. So he’s not going to be making $7 million after next year. So that gives you some flexibility.
“You’ve got to deal with Ryan Ellis between now and the end of next year, and you’ve got to deal with Roman Josi in two years. And is there anybody after that? I mean, all of their guys are locked in.
“ … Forsberg has got one of the best contracts in the NHL. Johansen is signed. Arvidsson is signed. Ekholm signed a six-year deal a couple of years ago. They’ve got some time. I think their window is really large.
“They’re going to decide what they want to do. And if you heard Laviolette and Poile the other day, they just said, ‘We plan on coming back with pretty much the same group,’ and if I was them I would too. I think their window is really large.”
Kevin Fiala has a season left on his entry-level contract.
“You’ll have to deal with that, that’s for sure,” indicated Friedman. “Next year is a big year for him. He’s got to have a huge season.”
Ryan Johansen has another seven seasons to go on his eight-year, $64 million contract.
Filip Forsberg is only costing the Predators $6 million of cap space, and he’s locked up for another four years.
Viktor Arvidsson comes with a $4.25 million cap hit for another six campaigns.
The six-year, $36 million extension for Kyle Turris will kick in next season.
Mattias Ekholm has four more years at $3.75 million per against the cap.
Roman Josi is $4 million for an additional two years.
P.K. Subban is the only big ticket on D, with a $9 million cap hit for four more seasons. If you missed it, Friedman had an interesting note recently about Subban and the Matt Duchene trade talk from two years ago.
Rinne, as Friedman pointed out, will see his seven-year, $49 million contract come to an end next summer. The goalie has a modified no-trade, no-move clause.
“Tampa is an interesting one,” continued Friedman. “Because they’ve got to deal with Kucherov. And Kucherov has kind of had a weird playoff. He’s had moments where he’s been really good, and he’s had some really weird moments – getting beat on icings, looking frustrated. He’s kind of had a weird playoff.
“But Kucherov made it pretty clear the last time that they used the full weight of the CBA on him, and next time he’s going to use the full weight of the CBA on them. So they’re going to have a big one that they’ll have to deal with.
“The one thing about Tampa is they appear to have drafted and developed pretty well. They’ve got a lot of bodies. They’ve got a lot of prospects. I think that you have to believe the way they approach things, they’re going to be a contender for quite awhile.
“But there’s no question the biggest thing is going to come down to what is Kucherov’s number, and how do you make that work.”
Kucherov signed a three-year, $14.3 million deal with the Lightning in October of 2016, which carries a cap hit of a shade under $4.77 million.
General manager Steve Yzerman will be able to sign the forward to an extension as early as July 1, since the deal has one more season to go.
As was alluded to by Friedman, Kucherov will hold the arbitration hammer this time around in restricted free agency.
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