With the NHL Entry Draft now less than two weeks away, business is starting to pick up in front offices around the NHL as the Stanley Cup Finals continue on. Teams are undoubtedly planting seeds as we enter what is known as the transaction season in and around the NHL.
One thing to keep an eye on, as we get closer to the draft, will be the teams with cap space. They will have the ability to be the biggest movers, if they so choose, during the offseason. With the salary cap coming down, and compliance buyouts being available to general managers this offseason, there is nothing more valuable to a team than excess cap space.
Something else to keep an eye, how many players will have an amnesty buyout used on them when the window opens up two days after the final game of the Stanley Cup finals? While no one knows what that number will look like for sure, it would not be a surprise to see some players have that option used on them and immediately hit the open market as a free agent.
Still, as we get closer to the draft, the main focus for the Lightning will be to watch what plays out with the teams in front of them, in terms of possibly moving the pick, or eventually making a pick. As has been discussed numerous times previously, regardless of what happens in front of them, Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman will likely be in a great position regardless.
Still, it is interesting to see how the teams in front of the Lightning decide to handle the position they are in.
Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night In Canada reported Saturday night that the Calgary Flames offered all three of their first round draft picks (No. 6, No. 22, and No. 28) to the Colorado Avalanche for the top overall pick, but that offer was declined. Seeing as how that was declined, one has to wonder if the Avalanche will move the top overall pick at all.
The next week or so should be fascinating league wide as teams continue to do work behind the scenes leading up to the draft. What will Steve Yzerman do, if anything at all? According to capgeek.com, the Lightning currently has $2,407,251 in cap space. Of course that number includes Mattias Ohlund, who at this point likely would head back to long term injured reserve with the knee issue. It also does not include any Lightning players that are eligible for free agency this summer.
Looking at that number, the Lightning may not be able to do much in free agency, unless they make additional moves to try to free up salary cap space. Or make moves where equal cap space is moved.
It will be an interesting couple weeks leading up to the draft, followed shortly after by the opening of free agency, with everyone involved trying to make the moves necessary to get their teams to the postseason in 2013.