Say goodbye to Ondrej Balat, and hello to a different lightning future

Brandon – Lastly Arrived. Lastly inevitable right here.

The door to Lightning’s locker room was left open lengthy sufficient {that a} core member of the staff ventured exterior. Ondrej Palat is gone, and there’s no substitute for Lightning juju.

To be truthful, this present day was a very long time coming. Some would argue that the method started a 12 months in the past when Tyler Johnson was traded in Chicago. Or when Yanni Gorde was kidnapped within the enlargement challenge.

However there may be an unequivocal sense that Balat’s departure is remaining. Perhaps that is the sum of all of the splits, or possibly it is the proximity of Balat’s current post-season tournaments.

Regardless of the motive, that is the brand new actuality. Tampa Bay nonetheless has a worthy playoff roster, nonetheless a Stanley Cup contender, however now not an NHL scourge.

So, yeah, it is a unhappy day. Painful day.

And possibly – possibly – a wholesome day.

I am not saying Lightning is a greater staff right now than it was a month in the past. If the wage cap wasn’t a problem, Balat, Ryan McDonagh, Blake Coleman and some different guys would nonetheless be round. Lightning might have three Stanley Cups in a row with an excellent likelihood of being fourth.

But when the wage cap meant dismantling the technology checklist too quickly, it additionally prevented Lightning from residing prior to now for too lengthy.

Ondrej Palat passes a puck as Rangers' Kevin Rooney makes a move during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Final.
Ondrej Palat passes a puck as Rangers’ Kevin Rooney makes a transfer throughout Sport Six of the Japanese Convention Last. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The switch of contracts for McDonagh, 33, Johnson, 31, and Yanni Gord, 30, allowed Lightning to signal long-term offers with Mikhail Sergeyev, 24, Anthony Cirelli, 24, and Eric Cernak, 25, this week. Permitting Palat, 31, to go away by way of free company, have given sufficient room to re-sign Nick Paul, 27, and takeover Vladislav Namestnikov, 29.

Is lightning much less essential right now? Sure, I believe they’re. However they’re additionally youthful, and maybe extra numerous than prior to now.

“That is simply the truth of the scenario,” stated Lightning Common Supervisor Julien BriseBois. “Not solely do we’ve a strict wage cap, we’ve a hard and fast wage cap and we’ve different gamers who’re simply coming into their preliminary matches and they’ll be actually good gamers for a really very long time for us and we simply ran out of canopy area.”

They are saying if you wish to dance, you have to finally pay the instrumentalist. On this case, if you wish to have a parade on a ship, you’ll finally achieve setting a most wage.

Follow all procedures in and out of the ice

Observe all procedures out and in of the ice

Join our free Lightning Strikes e-newsletter

We’ll ship you information, evaluation and commentary on Bolts weekly in the course of the season.

You might be all registered!

Need extra of our free weekly e-newsletter in your inbox? Let’s get began.

Discover all of your choices

Lightning has 5 gamers – Stephen Stamkos, Brayden Level, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevsky – who’re among the many finest on this planet of their positions. In addition they make a mixed $45 million or so. Throw in Alex Killorn and you will get six gamers consuming 60% of your most wage subsequent season.

Because of this BriseBois must pool the opposite three-quarters of the checklist with about 40 p.c of its accessible cash.

“It is simply the truth of the aggressive system in place,” BriseBois stated. “Some gamers, as a lot as you need to hold and as a lot as you need to keep, ultimately you’ll be able to’t put everybody beneath cowl.”

One 12 months and one week in the past, Workforce Lightning received the Stanley Cup. Tampa Bay used 20 skaters in the course of the qualifying spherical, and precisely half of them are gone now.

Ondrej Palat holds the Stanley Cup after the Lightning team defeated the Canadians to win it all in 2021.
Ondrej Palat holds the Stanley Cup after the Lightning staff defeated the Canadians to win all of it in 2021. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]

A few of them have been little gamers – Matthew Joseph and Luke Shen. A few of them have been complementary gamers – David Savard, Barkley Goudreau and Jean Rutte. And it had greater than a handful, at one time or one other, of the primary substances — bales, mcdonna, johnson, coleman, jord.

Regardless of the way you strive on a coat of sugar, regardless of how excited you might be about Namstnikov’s arrival alongside defenders Ian Cole, Philip Myers and Hayden Fleury, this is not the identical roster that got here throughout two Stanley Cup victories final month.

that is unlucky. And, as Presboa stated, it is not good.

But it surely’s not as if hope and optimism comply with McDonagh and bales out the door. The Lightning staff continues to be a formidable staff. They nonetheless have an opportunity of glory a 12 months from now.

It was simply that the lightning would have a distinct look once they returned to the ice. And possibly, because it seems, this would not be such a foul factor.

John Romano may be reached at [email protected]. Observe @romano_tbtimes.

• • •

Subscribe to Lightning Strikesa weekly e-newsletter from Bolts beat author Eduardo A. Encina that brings you nearer to the ice.

Do not miss the most recent information with faculty sports activities from Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida School and extra. Observe our Tampa Bay Occasions sports activities staff at Twitter And the Fb.