The Tampa Bay Lightning are bringing back one of their veteran defensemen, re-signing Braydon Coburn to a two-year deal. The contract carries an average annual value of $1.7MM, a considerable drop from Coburn’s last deal.
Coburn, 34, actually had an excellent bounce back season for the Lightning in 2018-19, finishing with 23 points in 74 games and solid possession statistics. While he’s no longer the 22+ minute man he was during his prime for the Philadelphia Flyers, Coburn still represents a reliable veteran presence on the blue line for Tampa Bay. That was obviously important for the team to maintain, given that Dan Girardi and Anton Stralman are both scheduled to become unrestricted free agents this summer. With Coburn back in the mix, it seems unlikely that the team will be able to afford either one unless they sign for a considerable bargain.
That’s because the Lightning now sit at a projected $76MM in cap commitments for next season. Amazingly that doesn’t include a deal for young star center Brayden Point, who will certainly cost more than the $6.88MM in cap space the team currently projects to have unless he takes a short-term bridge deal. Tampa Bay is expected to make a move to clear some cap space at some point this offseason.
This deal however doesn’t drastically change the arithmetic for the Lightning. They were always going to have to bring in at least one more defenseman, and a $1.7MM cap hit is reasonable for a veteran of more than 1,000 NHL games. The question will be if Coburn can continue to play at a championship level throughout the two-year deal, as the Lightning still hold contender status in the Eastern Conference. Luckily the team already has Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh locking down the left side, taking a lot of pressure off the veteran.