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Kucherov extension won't keep Lightning from adding another big contract

GM denies reports that Tampa Bay is close to making trade for Karlsson

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

The Tampa Bay Lightning could add another significant contract after signing forward Nikita Kucherov to an eight-year, $76 million extension, general manager Steve Yzerman said Tuesday.

But Yzerman, without mentioning or being asked about Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, denied reports that the Lightning were close to trading for the two-time Norris Trophy winner.

"Despite what you've read or may have reported, it's inaccurate," Yzerman said on a conference call to discuss Kucherov's extension.

 

[RELATED: Kucherov signs eight-year contract extension with Lightning]

 

There were reports Thursday that the Lightning were close to trading for Karlsson, who can become an unrestricted free agent after this season. Sportsnet reported the Senators gave Karlsson permission to speak to teams about a contract July 2.

Video: Kucherov signs eight-year extension with Lightning

"I don't think it's impossible," Yzerman said about adding another large contract. "But if you look at our commitments, if we were to bring on a [big contract], we'd have to make the money work so to speak."

Kucherov's extension, which has an average annual value of $9.5 million, begins in the 2019-20 season and runs through 2026-27.

Tampa Bay has other key players signed to long-term contracts: center Steven Stamkos through 2024 ($8.5 million AAV), defenseman Victor Hedman through 2025 ($7.875 million AAV), and defenseman Ryan McDonagh through 2026 ($6.75 million AAV).

Video: Nikita Kucherov on signing extension

"These guys are good players, really good players, and when you look around the League, they're going to get paid a certain amount," Yzerman said. "We want to keep as many of our good players as we can. We'd like to keep everybody. Unfortunately you can't do that. But we're trying to be as competitive as possible while trying to manage the (NHL) salary cap. ...

"I guess we're comfortable (with the cap) for the time being with this season. We're comfortable where we are going forward. But at some point we're going to have to make decisions that are strictly cap-related."

Kucherov is entering the final season of a three-year contract that carries a salary cap charge of $4.766 million. The 25-year-old was third in the NHL with 100 points (39 goals, 61 assists) last season. He has 334 points (147 goals, 187 assists) in 365 NHL games.

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