Lightning waive Tyler Johnson in hopes of creating cap space

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Tyler Johnson has been placed on waivers by the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

Unlike other players put on waivers recently, this isn’t a case of GM Julien BriseBois buying out the forward’s final four years. Johnson has a full no-trade clause, so this is one way around that. (Players with no-move clauses cannot be waived.)

While Johnson carries a $5M cap hit for the next four seasons, his actual salary fluctuates for the remainder of the deal. He’ll be paid $3.75M in 2020-21; $5.5M in 2021-22; $3.75M in 2022-23; and $4.75M in the contract’s final year.

The 30-year-old sees his full no-trade clause change to a modified no-trade next summer when he has to submit a 20-team list where he would not allow a trade. The 2021 offseason will be an interesting one with the Seattle expansion draft. Johnson is a Washington state native and might be willing to be exposed for selection.

Johnson scored 14 goals and recorded 31 points in 65 games this season. He’s a four-time 20-goal scorer and has reached the 45-point mark five times in his Lightning career.

Challenge ahead for BriseBois

The Lightning are desperate to open cap space in order to re-sign their two big restricted free agents — Mikhail Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli. Tough decisions will have to be made in order to be cap compliant and competitive next season.

“Winning is a hard business at this level,” BriseBois said last week. “For us to win the Cup, the players had to do a lot of hard work and the coaching staff had to make some hard decisions and now, if we want to win another Cup, it’s my turn to make some hard decisions.

“My job — my duty — is to make decisions that increase the odds of the team being successful, and every decision I’m going to be making in the next couple of days is going to be based on trying to improve the odds that we will continue to be a Stanley Cup contender year in, year out, for the foreseeable future. And I believe that we have what it takes to be such a team.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.