Not to worry, Lightning fans – this team will be back in the Cup final soon

(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

You could see it in the dejection splashed across the face of Steven Stamkos, and hear it in the considered whisper of Jon Cooper: the Tampa Bay Lightning were spent, physically and emotionally, and at a loss for appropriate words in the wake of losing the Stanley Cup final to the superior Blackhawks Monday. Undoubtedly, their fans and management were devastated as well; you would be too if you cheered on or built up a speedy and skilled roster of players who defied the odds and two of the league’s very best goalies en route to their fourth-round showdown against the Hawks. To get within eye distance of a lifelong dream and fall short is about as excruciating as it gets for professional athletes and those who support them.

But the mourning period for this edition of the team ought to be short, because the Lightning are anything but one-year wonders. The group GM Steve Yzerman has in place will have just as good a chance of returning to next year’s Cup final and at least a couple more after that. The Bolts are young, their salary cap situation is tenable – and if you look closely enough at this year’s squad, you’ll see they should be a little more lucky when next they’re playing for the best trophy in all of sport. And they will be back, and at least as dangerous next time around. Read more

Montreal Canadiens ink Nathan Beaulieu to two-year, one-way deal

Jared Clinton
Nathan Beaulieu (Andy Marlin/Getty Images)

The Montreal Canadiens came up short of their goal for the second straight season, but they’ve locked up one young defender who can hopefully help them make two more deep post-season runs.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Canadiens have signed defenseman Nathan Beaulieu to a two-year, one-way contract that carries an average annual value of $1 million. The cap hit, which is helped by the fact Beaulieu is just 22 and only beginning to make his jump to the NHL, works perfectly for Montreal’s cap situation. Beaulieu was set to become a restricted free agent this off-season. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Dougie Hamilton deal one to watch for Bruins

Dougie Hamilton (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton is coming off an entry-level contract and lacks arbitration rights, but that might not prevent him from getting a significant raise this summer. The Bruins limited cap space for 2015-16 and the lack of depth in this summer’s UFA pool could see the 21-year-old blueliner receiving a lucrative offer sheet from a rival club.

The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa speculates the Hamilton camp could use the threat of an offer sheet as leverage in contract discussions with the Bruins. He suggests a team like the Edmonton Oilers, who are deep in young talent but lacking skilled blueline depth, might be willing to sacrifice a compensation package of draft picks to successfully sign Hamilton away from the Bruins. Read more

Watch P.K. Subban join a group of kids, play street hockey

Jared Clinton
P.K. Subban (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Whether you’re a fan of the Montreal Canadiens and P.K. Subban or not, it’s near impossible not to enjoy his infectious attitude.

Subban added another example to the long list of great, fun-loving things he has done over his short career this past weekend when, randomly, he joined a group of kids playing street hockey. Subban, a Norris Trophy winner and perennial all-star, took a bit off of his shot when testing the young netminder’s mettle, but the Canadiens’ star blueliner didn’t hold back when it came time to celebrate his goals. Take a look: Read more

Rumor Roundup: Canadiens, Oilers buzz and offer sheet speculation

Brandon Saad

The Montreal Canadiens’ recent re-signing of defenseman Jeff Petry to a six-year, $33-million contract takes a significant bite out of their remaining cap space. With over $64 million invested in their 2015-16 cap payroll, the Habs could have less than $7 million available should the cap reach $71 million as projected.

Notable free agents include RFAs Alex Galchenyuk and Nathan Beaulieu, while trade-deadline pickup Torrey Mitchell is an unrestricted free agent while Brian Flynn is restricted. Galchenyuk and Beaulieu are coming off entry-level contracts and lack arbitration rights, so they’ll likely receive affordable short-term bridge deals. Mitchell and Flynn are inexpensive checkers who shouldn’t be difficult to retain.

Assuming GM Marc Bergevin can squeeze those four within his narrow cap space, he won’t have enough remaining to bolster his anemic offense. He could swing a trade to address that need. Read more

Confident Lightning not in a panic despite missed opportunity in Game 1

Tyler Johnson  (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

TAMPA – History tells us that only two teams in NHL history have lost the first two games of the Stanley Cup final on home ice and bounced back to win the Cup. They would be your 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and 1966 Montreal Canadiens.

Reality tells us that if the Blackhawks win Game 2 of the final Saturday night, this series is over. (Google, for a short time Thursday was telling us that the Blackhawks had already won the Cup. On its Blackhawks page it had listed 2015 as one of the years the Blackhawks have won a championship.)

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