Can the Lightning achieve the treble?
Julien BriseBois has a special talent for building Stanley Cup champion teams, but is the feat of winning a third in a row realistic for the Tampa Bay Lightning?
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Surprise or not, the “Bolts” are once again at the top of the National Hockey League standings, tied with the Florida Panthers. At a press conference on Wednesday, the CEO kept his expectations rather low.
“It’s very hard to win a championship. The predictions for the Stanley Cup are not in our favor this year, but someone will win it, said the Quebecer. Someone will ignore the predictions and win the cup. For the past two years, we’ve been lucky enough that it’s us, and we’ll do everything we can to make it us again this year. “
“Our goal in the second half of the season is to get a playoff spot and continue to collect points, improve our game, improve our chemistry and build to make sure we’re at our best when it matters most.” , added BriseBois.
There is still a lot of hockey to play before the playoff schedule. With a lineup that can count on Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy, among others, it’s hard not to approach the sequel with confidence.
Who says good players, however, says big contracts. The Lightning is flirting with the salary cap and BriseBois is unlikely to be able to budge by the trade deadline of March 21. Kucherov’s long-term injury last year gave him more leeway.
“This year, we have no space on the payroll. We have no one to send to the minors without risking losing them on waivers, ”admitted the GM.
“Most of our players, I would even say all of our players, are good players with good contracts. They give us value for our money. It is unlikely that we will be able to find a player who will give us more for his value than the players that we will be forced to leave out, ”he analyzed.
In other words, BriseBois loves the group it has on hand. The core of the squad has been virtually the same for the past five years, but the Quebecer will likely not be able to afford any last-minute additions, as with defenseman David Savard last year or forwards Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow the last year.
In fact, its purchases for the series, BriseBois probably made them in advance with the additions this summer of Corey Perry, Pierre-Édouard Bellemare, Zach Bogosian and Brian Elliott.