Lightning looking to improve blue line

After losing out in the John Tavares sweepstakes, The Tampa Bay Lightning have their roster pretty much set for the 2018-19 season…or so we thought. Just when we thought that Yzerman was done tweaking the roster, Joe Smith of the Athletic and The Tampa Times are reporting the Lightning are still in the running for D Erik Karlsson.
Ottawa is trying desperately to unload Karlsson, but wants fair market value in return. The Lightning will need to be prepared to offer Karlsson a long term deal and the Lightning would have to shed some salary to get Karlsson to fit under the salary cap.
The Lightning are considered the front runners to land Karlsson. If the lightning do acquire Karlsson, he will cammand upwards of $10 million a year making him the highest paid player on the Lightning. Right now, Stamkos at $8.5 million and Hedman at $7.9 million are the two highest paid Lightning players.
Hedman, Karlsson, Girardi, Sergachev and MacDonagh would instantly solidify the Lightning blue line and would make the Lightning the favorite to win the Stanley Cup this upcoming season. The lightning would have two of the best blue liners in the NHL in Hedman and Karlsson Signed to long term deals.
Andrei Sustr will not be back as he signed a one year deal with Anaheim. Sustr wha had played the last five years in Tampa was a scratch all during the playoff run last spring.
The Lightning did re-sign Slater Koekkoek to a one year deal. Koekkoek will make $885,000 next season. Cedric Paquette also came to terms with the Lightning. Paquette signed his one year deal earlier today At one million for next season.
If the Lightning do not land Karlsson, they will be happy to go into the 18-19 season with the roster the way It is.
The Lightning earlier signed JT Miller and Ryan MacDonagh to long term deals. The Lightning will still need to get Nikita Kucherov and Andrei Vasilevskiy to long term deals. This is the last year of Kucherov‘s contract and can be a RFA after next season if he and the Lightning cannot come to terms on a long term deal.
Kucherov will not come cheap and could demand north of $10 million per year as is one of the top 5 offensive players in the NHL. Vasilevskiy will be a RFA in 2020.