Late Tuesday morning, it was announced that star forward Nikita Kucherov was being put on LTIR. While many fans think of it as a way to get better players, there’s still more that goes into it, and it’s still going to hurt the Lightning badly.
Julien BriseBois, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s general manager, made good use of the money given to the Lightning with the major loss of Kucherov, finding ways to keep Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli on the team on good contracts. It also later on helped the Lightning to gain a solid defensive player in David Savard. With that information, what could BriseBois do to fill the important hole the loss of Kucherov made?
1. Pick up a solid top 6 forward
This may seem a bit obvious, but picking up a top 6 forward can really help fill the gap made by the loss of Kucherov. Some options that the Lightning could look into for cheap, most likely one year contract players, are Alex Chiasson of the Vancouver Canucks, Tyler Pitlick of the Calgary Flames, and Drake Caggiula of the Buffalo Sabers. These are all pretty solid pickups for the Lightning, and there is enough cap space to pick up multiple players.
2. Trade bottom line players
We all hate to say it, but it has to happen sometimes. If the 4th or 3rd line players don’t play well enough, expect them to be traded out to save cap space and use them as trade material to pick up a better player. This isn’t that possible, but if the trend of staying at .500% win continues, you can expect for some players getting moved.
3. Pick up much needed defenseman
This has been said for a while by fans, but the defense needs work. Yes, Hedman, McDonagh, and Sergachev are quite good, but that can’t carry the whole defense. Some options for the Lightning to pick up are Niko Mikkola of the St. Louis Blues, Andrej Sekera of the Dallas Stars, and Brett Kulak of the Montreal Canadiens. All are solid options for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who’s defense needs work.
While we still don’t know the injury Kucherov has, it’s most likely that it needs surgery, which is why he was put into long term injury reserve. All that Lightning fans can do is hope for the best, and look forward into the future when Kucherov comes back in the playoffs.