This has been a major headline all season long. Nikita Kucherov is one of the NHL’s top wingers with his offensive skill set. He can make an immediate impact on any game at any time. Kucherov is a victim of a playoff injury he suffered last season. This required him to have offseason hip surgery and miss the entire regular season this year, but he seems to fine now. With this, Kucherov was placed on the LTIR. This means his $9.5 million cap hit does not count while he is on this list.
While this is in play, Tampa Bay made some ridiculous trades and offseason acquisitions with an ample amount of cap space. Once the playoffs start, the NHL Cap is irrelevant and teams can use however much cap space they want. Conveniently, Kucherov seemed to be 100% once the playoffs started and are now leading the playoffs in points. You cannot look someone in the eye and say that isn’t super sketchy to work around a secretive loophole. I mean I guess you can say it to Gary Bettman and he will agree with you.
Bettman says they looked into Kucherov’s LTIR and found nothing wrong. “The provision has been in place since 2005.”
— NHL News (@PuckReportNHL) June 28, 2021
Before the argument for each side is made, this is a rule in the NHL and it is completely legal, but that is the problem. With this rule in place. the Lightning was able to work around not having a massive cap hit from Kucherov. This allows them to go out and acquire a player like David Savard and not have to worry about any money issues until next season. As much as it sucks to admit, it is a legal tactic. This one seems to have a different feel to it.
That is why Bettman sees nothing wrong with this because it is “in the rulebook for the last 16 years”. This is also why Bettman seems to be clueless about the situation. Legal tactic or not, there is no way Kucherov was that hurt to not play for the entire season. The guy was skating with his teammates at full speed months before his return. Are we supposed to think that’s normal? Not at all. A player can’t be that hurt for an entire season just to come back and tear apart the playoffs. Wake up you bird!
📺: Game 1, Monday at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, SN, TVAS, CBC pic.twitter.com/vzAEsw4z6T
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 27, 2021
Knowing Gary Bettman, there will be nothing done to prevent something like this from happening next year. This means we need to come up with a solution for him so his job isn’t as hard. Don’t worry Gary, we got you. There are many things that can be done to prevent another Kucherov disaster again.
For instance, they can keep the rule that a player on the LTIR has no impact on the Cap. That is fine, but have some rules that apply to after the trade deadline. A possible cap could be added for the playoffs for sure. If a player is healthy to come back off the LTIR at any point, their cap must be accounted for. If they are in the lineup, their cap should be accounted for. This way a team like Tampa Bay can’t have a lineup in the playoffs this loaded while $18 million over the cap. I can understand if a team is about one or two million over, but $18 million is borderline criminal for anyone who wants to watch a clean game.
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