Salary cap constraints could force the Tampa Bay Lightning into a significant cost-cutting trade this summer. David Staples of the Edmonton Journal speculated they could be a prime trade target for the Oilers.
Cap Friendly indicates the Lightning carry over $86.5 million invested in 19 players for 2021-22. They’re allowed to be over the $81.5 million cap by 10 percent during the off-season but must be compliant when the regular season opens in October.
Staples believes the Oilers’ top priority should be landing a veteran winger to play alongside captain Connor McDavid, especially if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins departs this summer via free agency. He suggested Lightning forwards such as Ondrej Palat, Blake Coleman, Yannie Gourde and Alex Killorn as prime candidates, with Coleman slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
If unable to sign Coleman, perhaps the Oilers could target one of the other three at a bargain price. The Lightning won’t want to take back much salary. A decent draft pick, quality prospect, or a promising (and affordable) young player could get it done.
Palat, Gourde or Killorn could fit well on the McDavid line. Their skills and playoff experience would make them invaluable additions to the Oilers’ roster.
Their contracts are also reasonable. Palat has two seasons remaining with an annual average value of $5.3 million. Gourde has four seasons left at $5.16 million annually while Killorn has two seasons at $4.45 million per.
The sticking point for each, however, is their no-trade clauses. Gourde has a full no-trade, Palat’s becomes a modified no-trade with a 20-team trade list while Killorn has a 16-team no-trade list. If they’re not enticed by the chance to play alongside McDavid, the Oilers might have to look elsewhere.