NHL Stanley Cup Final 2021: Canadiens, Lightning Offseason Preview After Final

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 10, 2021

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Barclay Goodrow (19) follows a play during the third period of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup finals series against the Montreal Canadiens, Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Lightning's quest for a third consecutive Stanley Cup will come with a different roster makeup than the team had for the past two years. 

A handful of key role players on the Tampa Bay roster are set to become unrestricted free agents, and they should earn decent paydays elsewhere. 

The Lightning will still bring back most of the core who captured the 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cups, but the configuration of the entire roster will change. 

As for the Montreal Canadiens, they face fewer significant questions, but they have to replace a few unrestricted free agents who could leave in the offseason.

Both teams also have to deal with the loss of a player to the NHL expansion draft. The Seattle Kraken make their selections on July 21.


Offseason Preview

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay will likely say goodbye to Barclay Goodrow, Blake Coleman, David Savard and Luke Schenn.

Each of those players is an unrestricted free agent, and the Lightning do not have a ton of salary cap space to work with going into the offseason. 

For the 2021-22 season, Tampa Bay has nine players set to make over $5 million. Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy are both in line to earn over $9 million, per Spotrac

Even if Tampa Bay loses a top player to the expansion draft, it will not have enough room to bring back the role players who will demand more money on the free-agent market because of their performances over the last few seasons. 

Tampa Bay's front office has experience navigating the difficulties of the salary cap. The usage of the long-term injured reserve tag on Kucherov helped the Lightning afford everyone on their roster this past season. 

More salary cap gymnastics are required to build out the depth of the roster for the 2021-22 campaign. Look for the Lightning to go after affordable role players or veteran depth options to fill out the roster. 


Montreal Canadiens

Montreal enters the offseason with just over $14 million in projected salary-cap space. 

That is a decent number for the Canadiens to work with as they navigate the trials of the offseason.

Corey Perry, Joel Armia and Eric Staal are among the unrestricted free agents from the roster that advanced to the Stanley Cup Final. Artturi Lehkonen and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are both restricted free agents. 

Montreal has Carey Price and Shea Weber coming back on its biggest contracts, while Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki will once again be on cheaper deals as younger players. Caufield and Suzuki are not scheduled to make over $1 million in base salary next season, per Spotrac

The Canadiens will not be forced to make any drastic offseason decisions, but like Tampa Bay, they need to fill out their roster depth with some experienced players. 

While building out its depth, Montreal needs to consider which players will be best to deal with the return to the Atlantic Division. 

The all-Canadian North Division will likely not exist next season, so the Canadiens must prepare to see more of the Lightning, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres and Detroit Red Wings.