i thought about this The Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay has about 5.3 million in cap space and if that doesn’t sound like a lot its because it’s not. The good news; after next season they’ll free up 16 million on defence. The bad news; they’ll only have three defensemen under contract. The Lightning has plenty of significant contracts they need to dump to facilitate the signing including Callahan‘s 5.8 million, Alex Killorn‘s 4.5 million and the easiest to move Tyler Johnson‘s 5 million dollars. But wait there’s more! Nikita Kucherov, you may have heard of him, his contract is also up next season and could almost double his salary of 4.76 annually.
Why it could work:
Tampa has a lot of firepower on offence and still has their top-6 D completely intact from last season. They were losers in the Eastern Final this year and will be hungry. They may regret not pulling the trigger on Erik Karlsson last season and likely don’t want to see a big fish like Tavares go to a team in their division ala Montreal, Boston or Toronto. Smaller market means less pressure and Tavares can have fun to play hockey not needing to be the leader of that team.
Why it might not work:
It is absolute cap hell in Tampa right now, overpaying loyal players has put Tampa closer and closer to the ceiling and for Tavares to sign it would be pennies on the dollar compared to another destination. No state tax in Florida does help, but he still could command more in other markets. Props to Yzerman for making a pitch, but Tampa is one of the least likely landing spots for our superstar.