The Tampa Bay Lightning has roughly $59 million in salary committed to its roster for next season, but that does not include three key forwards.
Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin and Ondrej Palat are in the final year of their respective contracts and can become restricted free agents July 1.
With only $14 million in available salary cap space next season, signing all three players and filling additional holes on the roster, like a backup goaltender to Andrei Vasilevskiy, is near impossible.
Defenseman Andrej Sustr is also a pending restricted free agent and will command a much higher salary than the $1.65 million he's earning this season.
Johnson's name has started to make circles around the NHL, something TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie mentioned on TSN 1260 in Edmonton earlier today.
While McKenzie disclaimed that Johnson's name being available is strictly a rumor, at this point, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is believed to be taking calls on the center.
The Bolts could also explore the market on some of their other roster players, like forwards Valtteri Filppula, Alex Killorn and Palat, and defenseman Jason Garrison, even though Yzerman is looking to upgrade his defense.
Garrison owns a no-trade clause and would have to approve any deal, while Filppula has a limited no-movement clause where he can list 16 teams he would accept a trade to.