With the 2020-21 season set, the Tampa Bay Lightning have a problem they must grapple with. The 2020 Stanley Cup champions are nearly $2 million over the salary cap with restricted free agents Anthony Cirelli and Erik Cernak yet to sign.
Now, their money woes might be solved in the most depressing way possible.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman is reporting that Nikita Kucherov, the 2019 Hart Trophy winner, is “battling an injury that may keep him out a while.” Kucherov is the highest-paid player on the team, making $9.5 million per season.
TB's cap issues may be solved by LTIR. There is word Nikita Kucherov is battling an injury that may keep him out awhile. No comment from team/agent, so details are sketchy — but clarity expected this week. If unable to play (unfortunately), it will clear room for the Lightning.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) December 21, 2020
The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun added that Kucherov “got a hip shot last week” and the team is waiting to see how the superstar’s body responds before any decisions are made.
Told that Kucherov got a hip shot last week. Now apparently it's about seeing how he reacts to it and feels. If he's fine, then it's all good. But if he feels discomfort? Could be LTIR. We shall see. https://t.co/tNKxEmwZkD
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 21, 2020
A long-term injury for Kucherov could potentially be devastating for the Lightning’s chances to repeat. The Russian forward has tallied 85 points or more in four consecutive seasons, reaching the 40-goal and 100-point plateaus in two of those seasons.
Headline photo courtesy of @nikitakucherov86
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