Jason Brough

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Sergachev motivated to make Lightning next season

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If Mikhail Sergachev plays 40 games for Tampa Bay next season, no draft picks will be exchanged in yesterday’s blockbuster trade with Montreal.

If, on the other hand, he doesn’t play 40 games, then the Lightning will receive the Canadiens’ second-round pick in 2018, and the Canadiens will receive the Lightning’s sixth-round pick.

So in a roundabout way, there’s an incentive for the Lightning to return Sergachev to junior for another year. The Bolts would get a second-round pick for a sixth-round pick, and that’s a good trade.

Sergachev, who turns 19 later this month, has other plans.

“I’ve played a lot in juniors and I learned a lot in those years,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “And I feel like this is my time to play in the NHL and I’ll do my best and play my best to make the Lightning roster.”

Sergachev, a defenseman, has already made his NHL debut. He played four games for the Habs this past season — three in October, before he was returned to junior, then one more in April.

In between, he played 50 games (10G, 33A) for OHL Windsor, then seven more (1G, 2A) in the playoffs. In May, he helped the Spitfires to a Memorial Cup title.

Still, as much as he’s already accomplished in junior, he’ll need to make it worth Tampa Bay’s while to keep him next season. The Lightning have Stanley Cup aspirations. As such, they’re not in a position to gift anyone a roster spot — especially if it costs them a second-round pick.

Reminder: Key dates and rules before expansion draft

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It’s going to be a hectic week in the NHL, to say the least.

As we’ve already written, a trade freeze goes into effect tomorrow afternoon for all 30 teams that aren’t the Vegas Golden Knights. Before then, we can expect to see some fairly big names traded. The Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild, New York Islanders, and Montreal Canadiens are among the teams worth watching.

Sunday morning, all 30 teams’ protected lists will be distributed. Then there’ll be some more fun, as teams are still allowed to make trades with Vegas after the freeze.

So let’s say a team had to expose a player it really doesn’t want to lose in the expansion draft. A deal could be struck with Vegas to keep the Golden Knights from selecting said player. Those deals aren’t supposed to be made public until Wednesday evening, but leaks tend to happen.

Vegas is also allowed to interview and sign RFAs and UFAs that weren’t protected. If a player is signed, that player counts as the Golden Knights’ pick from that team. There’s no compensation for RFAs. 

Read more: Trades galore before expansion draft? 

Here all the deadlines and rules, per the league:

Reports: NHLPA to vote on $75 million salary cap

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According to multiple reports, the NHLPA is expected to vote on a $75 million salary cap today.

If approved, it would raise the cap from its current level of $73 million; however, it would not quite match the $76 million figure that the league pegged in March.

It’s not clear how the union came up with the $75 million figure. It’s possible that only part of the five percent growth factor was used — say, 1.5 to 2.5 percent — with the addition of the Vegas Golden Knights making that more palatable for free agents.

There had been talk that the salary cap could remain flat for next season, as a way to address the players’ concerns about escrow.

“Obviously the higher the cap goes, the more exacerbated the escrow problem becomes,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said before the Stanley Cup Final. “Certainly our position with the players’ association has been that we’ll manage the cap tighter and keep it lower to try to address the escrow situation, if that’s your preference.”

Expect some big trades before tomorrow’s freeze kicks in

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Tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET, the 30 teams that aren’t the Vegas Golden Knights will not be allowed to trade with each other until the expansion draft has been completed.

It should make for an interesting Saturday, assuming not all the big trades are made today.

Before the freeze kicks in, teams that can’t protect a certain player will do their best to find him a new home, while teams with extra protection spots will try to fill them.

It’s a bit like a game of musical chairs. While there won’t be seats for every good player to sit, the 30 teams will at least make sure all the chairs are filled.

Let’s use Sami Vatanen as an example. Sorry, Golden Knights fans, but it’s unlikely Vegas will get the chance to pick the 26-year-old defenseman, even if the Ducks can’t protect him.

The more likely scenario is that Vatanen gets dealt to a team that does have a spot to protect him. (In a previous post, we listed New Jersey, Toronto, and Tampa Bay as possibilities.)

Stay tuned. This should be fun.

Related: Wild GM ‘listening’ to trade offers for Dumba, Brodin before expansion draft

Canucks re-sign Gudbranson, who has much to prove

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The Vancouver Canucks have signed defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a one-year contract extension worth $3.5 million.

Now he needs to prove he’s worth a longer-term commitment.

Gudbranson was traded to the Canucks last summer from Florida, and it wasn’t an easy transition. By season’s end, he’d only played 30 games after undergoing wrist surgery. The 25-year-old finished with one goal and five assists and was minus-14.

His most memorable moment as a Canuck was probably the fight he had with Toronto’s Matt Martin.

“Erik is a big, strong physical defender who I know feels has a lot to prove and has worked diligently in his injury rehab,” said GM Jim Benning. “He has leadership qualities that will be important for our young team and we are excited to see him healthy and back on the blue line next season.”

The one-year contract means that Gudbranson can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Related: The Canucks have a big decision to make with Gudbranson