NHL Rumors: Florida Panthers, and the Tampa Bay Lightning

All Eyes Will Be on the Sunshine State

There will be a lot of downtime between the Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers before the 2024 Stanley Cup Final begins on Saturday, June 8th.

But the Sunshine State of Florida will take center stage this offseason with these same Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. There are several attractive free agents for both teams this summer. First, let’s start with the Eastern Conference Champion Florida Panthers.

NHL Rumors: Florida Panthers Want to Keep Sam Reinhart Long-Term

One of the most coveted free agents, Sam Reinhart, will be a target for many teams this summer. Reinhart finished the regular season with 57 goals. We know he wants to remain with the Panthers, and the team wants him.

GM Bill Zito extended Gustav Forsling and Jonah Gadjovic during the season. Forsling’s cap hit of $5.75 million is a steal. Reinhart will be looking for a pay raise but understands the fit is there with Florida. He feels comfortable in Paul Maurice’s system and sees the most success in his career.

The same goes for defenseman Brandon Montour. The advantage of no state tax will help as well. Both could get a little discount compared to what they could get on the open market, especially Reinhart.

NHL Rumors: Florida Panthers, and the Montreal Canadiens

According to CapFriendly.com, Reinhart makes $6.5 million; there is speculation that he make around $9 million AAV on his next contract, which is a nice jump for him. But again, it helps that the salary cap is going up.

However, Aleksander Barkov counts $10 million against the cap, while Matthew Tkachuk counts $9.5 million. It will be interesting to see if Zito tries to keep Reinhart under that number, especially with other players needing to be signed, including Vladimir Tarasenko, Montour, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Dmitry Kulikov, and the crop of their bottom six forwards.

In addition to the UFAs, restricted free agent Anton Lundell is also eligible for an extension on July 1, along with 2025 unrestricted free agents Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Bennett, and Aaron Ekblad are eligible for extensions.

Moving north to Tampa, the Lightning have to deal with Steven Stamkos. The fire that started at the beginning of the season, when Stamkos was disappointed there were no extension talks, has diminished.

NHL Rumors: Lightning To Address Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman This Summer

The Lightning want him to stay, and Stamkos intends to stay. Lightning GM Julien BriseBois got the band back together by re-acquiring Ryan McDonagh.

The Lightning were up against the salary cap, so there were no Stamkos extension talks last summer. However, this summer, the Lightning only have $5 million in cap space to sign Stamkos to an extension. A player or two may have to be moved out to make the dollars work, even if Stamkos were to take a hometown discount.

NHL Rumors: Victor Hedman, Anthony Duclair, Matt Dumba, and Jon Cooper

The last time Stamkos was a free agent, he signed in the 11th hour; this could get done sooner. Especially with players Matt Dumba and potentially Anthony Duclair, they were not returning to the Lightning next season.

Of course, there is defenseman Victor Hedman. He is eligible for an extension on July 1. It will be interesting to see how the Lightning handle Hedman, but the priority is Stamkos.