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The Lightning won’t blow it up: so what’s next this offseason?

The core and players on ELC’s.

We can safely assume that the Lightning’s core of star players isn’t going anywhere. Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, and Ryan McDonagh are all locked into long-term deals. Stamkos and Hedman have full no-movement clauses, while Kucherov’s NMC kicks in for the start of 2020-21 and McDonagh holds a full no-trade clause. Point will sign a long-term deal of his own this summer. Ditto for Andrei Vasilevskiy in the summer of 2020. Meanwhile, Anthony Cirelli, Mathieu Joseph, Mikhail Sergachev, and Erik Cernak remain on their entry-level deals, so their services remain cheap for now.

With the need to re-sign Point and cap space becoming scarce, a trade or two involving a middle-six or bottom-six forward might happen. If so, it could be for either a defenseman, a prospect, or to clear cap space for youngsters in the AHL.

Looking at no-trade clauses and non-star forwards on multi-year deals

When looking at the rest of the lineup, Tyler Johnson has five years left on his deal and is coming off a 29-goal season while possessing a no-trade clause. Ondrej Palat, who posted a career-low eight goals and 34 points while missing 18 games due to injury, has three years remaining on his contract with a NTC. J.T. Miller’s modified NTC kicks in this summer for the final four years of his deal. Alex Killorn? Four more years left on his contract while currently holding a NTC. Gourde’s six-year contract starts next season with a NTC that starts during this summer.

When you see “no-trade clause” next to a player’s name, it can be easy to assume that player can’t be dealt. That’s not necessarily true. What it means is that a player can’t be moved without getting their permission to waive that clause first. And the player has every right to say no. If a no-trade clause is modified, it means that a player submits a list of teams that he is either willing to be traded to or not willing to be moved to.

A trade involving one of those forwards might not be out of the question. When you’ve been swept in the first round after winning 62 games, multiple options and scenarios should probably be considered. Although a full-scale makeover would be ill-advised, a move or two could bring in fresh faces, shake things up among the forwards, clear cap space to promote prospects from within, and serve notice that the status quo simply isn’t cutting it anymore.

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