April 19, 2019 | 10:10am ET
COSMETIC CHANGES, NOT MAJOR ONES, COMING IN TAMPA?
Ryan Callahan, forward
The last thing the Tampa Bay Lightning want to do is overreact after being swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first-round of the playoffs.
Lightning GM Julien BriseBois knows some moves are coming, but major ones, like replacing the head coach or trading a major piece off the roster, aren’t in the cards.
“There will be some changes. Today, it’s too soon. The emotions are still too raw,” BriseBois said Thursday, as quoted by the team’s website, during the team’s exit day interviews. “I’m in no position to give you any indication to what those changes will be. We’re going to look at the entire situation. We’re going to look at our players, our contracts, what we have coming from the minors, what’s available out there whether it be a trade or free agency and we’re going to make the best decisions we can in order to put ourselves in the best position to hopefully succeed next season.”
Prior to the playoffs, the Bolts locked up coach Jon Cooper to a multi-year contract extension, a move BriseBoise said he’d do now if he didn’t in March.
The Bolts have three major pending unrestricted free agents to make decisions on – defencemen Braydon Coburn, Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman. Not all three are expected to be back next season, though it’s unclear whom BriseBois will try to retain.
BriseBois has only $6.5 million in available salary cap space to play with, a figure that will increase by a few million dollars once the 2019-20 cap is set.
The Lightning will look to move forward Ryan Callahan this off-season to help free up cap space. Callahan, 34, has one-year left on his deal, which comes with a $5.8 million cap hit. He also owns a 16-team trade list.
Even by shedding Callahan’s contract, more room will be needed to solidify the blueline and add some grit up front, as a big chunk of money will be allocated to pending restricted free agent star Brayden Point.
“We can’t overreact to a small sample size,” BriseBois told the Tampa Bay Times. “When the season starts next year, we’re going to be icing a really competitive team. No one is going to be saying ‘Oh, Tampa has no shot.’ Tampa Bay is a playoff team. It will be a contender again.”