The Hockey News's Jared Clinton penned a column discussing the teams that would be most impacted by the projected $2.5 million rise in the salary cap's upper limit for the 2017-18 season:
There’s no more telling situation of how a slight rise in the upper limit can benefit cap-strapped teams more than the Lightning. Tampa Bay’s situation has been one to watch and the salary cap going forward has been of some concern for almost the entire campaign. It was hard for the cap issues not to be front and center when it took until zero hour for the Lightning to ink Nikita Kucherov, the team’s 23-year-old leading scorer, to a three-year contract extension. When the deal was signed, it was the talk of the league that Lightning GM Steve Yzerman managed to get a consistent 30-goal scorer under contract for three years at less than $5 million.
Even with Kucherov signed to a team-friendly deal, though, there was still concern. The Lightning are about to enter into what are sure to be tough contract negotiations with Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat, there’s the matter of locking up Jonathan Drouin to a new deal and Yzerman is also going to need to find a way to add a few more pieces — and potentially bolster his defense — by the time 2017-18 rolls around. But a savvy move at the deadline to ship out Valtteri Filppula cleared $5 million. Add in the potential for an extra $2.5 million in spending room, as well, and a once troubling cap situation has somewhat cleared up.