The Tampa Bay Lightning may have won the Stanley Cup as recently as Sept. 28, but that doesn't mean they don't have moves to make this offseason. Especially because there's a salary-cap crunch that the team is facing prior to the start of the 2020-21 season.
That could lead to the Lightning making some trades soon. And one player whose name has been involved in rumors is center Tyler Johnson, who was recently placed on waivers. However, Johnson cleared waivers, and he remained part of Tampa Bay's roster—at least for now.
According to The Athletic's Joe Smith, the Lightning "might have miscalculated the market, thinking they'd be able to move Johnson quickly and get some assets back in the process." Now, Smith reported that Tampa Bay is likely going to have to include "a sweetener" in the deal, such as a draft pick, prospect or potentially pay some of Johnson's salary.
But there doesn't appear to be a Johnson trade in the works.
"The market has stalled," a league source told Smith. "Teams are sitting back and waiting."
Johnson has spent his entire eight-year NHL career with Tampa Bay, tallying 339 points (153 goals and 186 assists) in 534 games. This past season, the 30-year-old had 14 goals and 17 assists in 65 regular-season games and then had four goals and three assists in 25 postseason games during the Lightning's run to the Stanley Cup.
As Smith pointed out, Tampa Bay has $79 million committed to 18 players for next season (which includes Johnson's $5 million salary). With a salary cap of $81.5 million, the Lightning have work to do.
Where Will Hoffman, Granlund End Up?
There are some talented offensive players still on the free-agent market, including forwards Mike Hoffman and Mikael Granlund. However, there have been some teams interested in these players.
During an appearance on NHL Tonight on NHL Network, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported that Hoffman has "gone kind of back and forth" with the Nashville Predators since the free-agent period began Oct. 9. Friedman added that the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets have been interested in adding either Hoffman or Granlund for an offensive boost.
But for now, these forwards remain on the market. And that may not change in the immediate future.
"Some of these players might just decide to say, 'OK, I'm pulling back, and I'm going to wait for a team to decide it's going to make me a serious offer," Friedman added. He continued:
"Because maybe the best thing I can do is put pressure on the team and withhold my services.'
"I think these guys are grinding away, I hesitate to put a timeline on it, but I think there are a bunch of teams that are interested, they're not offering a ton and the players have started to say in a couple of these cases, 'You know what, I'm going to wait and force some of these teams to come to me."
Hoffman played seven seasons for the Ottawa Senators before spending the past two with the Florida Panthers, and he's scored at least 22 goals in each of the past six seasons. Granlund has eight seasons of NHL experience (six and a half with the Minnesota Wild, one and a half with the Nashville Predators), and he's tallied at least 39 points in six of the past seven.
Potential Moves on the Horizon for Canucks
After ending a four-year playoff drought in 2019-20, the Vancouver Canucks entered the offseason having made progress. They won two postseason series and pushed the Vegas Golden Knights to seven games in the second round.
Vancouver has also been busy since free agency began, re-signing forward Tyler Motte and signing veteran goaltender Braden Holtby to two-year deals, as well as acquiring defenseman Nate Schmidt in a trade with Vegas. But the Canucks have also lost some pieces to other teams, including goaltender Jacob Markstrom (Calgary Flames), defenseman Chris Tanev (Calgary Flames) and forward Tyler Toffoli (Montreal Canadiens).
There still may be some players to return to Vancouver, though. According to The Athletic's Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal, the Canucks have "kept in touch" with forward Josh Leivo. They've also expressed interest in free-agent forward Jayce Hawryluk (formerly of the Ottawa Senators), per Drance and Dhaliwal, while also checking in with Hoffman.
However, Drance and Dhaliwal noted that adding Hoffman "is only realistic in the increasingly unlikely event that the Canucks are able to carve out significant salary-cap space on the trade market."
On the defensive side, Vancouver is "potentially looking at making a depth defender add—in the $1 million, one-year range," with Drance and Dhaliwal listing Oscar Fantenberg as the top candidate and Slater Koekkoek as a player the Canucks have checked in on.
So it appears there's a solid chance that more moves will be coming from Vancouver before the 2020-21 season begins.