What Point’s Contract Means for His Lightning Future

Well, it finally happened. After a summer of speculation, concern and a little bit of fear, Brayden Point signed a three-year, $6.75 million extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

At first blush, this bridge deal is just about perfect for Tampa Bay, as it keeps a budding young star with the franchise at a price tag that is more than team-friendly. Given the cap situation that the Lightning find themselves in, Point’s $6.75 million cap-hit will give general manager Julien BriseBois some needed room to work with throughout the coming seasons.

Tampa Bay Lightning Brayden Point
After posting a 41-goal, 92-point season, Brayden Point signed a three-year bridge deal that will keep him with the Tampa Bay Lightning at team-friendly $6.75-million cap hit. (AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.)

With the full details of the contract coming to light, let’s dive into what this signing means for the Lightning, and how it will help set up Point’s future with the franchise.

Breaking Down Point’s Contract

While Point’s contract provides a team-friendlycap hit for the next three seasons, it does give a glimpse as to what the Lightning may believe he will be worth in the future. See, in the last year of the contract, he will be paid $9 million in pure salary, meaning that the qualifying offer on his next contract with Tampa Bay will have to start at that number.

So, when Point hits his next round of restricted free agency in the 2022 offseason, the Lightning will need to make his qualifying offer at least $9 million to retain his services. While this is no small amount of money, it does line up with what Nikita Kucherov received when he signed his long-term extension back in the 2018 offseason.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point
With how his contract is structured, Point will require at least a $9 million per year contract extension when he hits restricted free agency again in the 2022 offseason. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

Given that Ondrej Palat comes off the books in 2022, along with veterans like Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson entering the end of their long-term contracts, the Lightning should be a better place to give Point a big pay raise. This means that as long as he stays healthy and productive, he could easily hit the $10 to $12 million paygrade in 2022.

Other Factors Affecting Point’s Future

An interesting point to Point’s contract extension is that his three-year deal isn’t necessarily unique in an offseason full of elite restricted free agents. For example, young star players like Brock Boeser, Matthew Tkachuk, Zachary Werenski, and Charlie McAvoy all took three-year deals that paid them less than their expected market value. Based on the timing of these contracts, one can guess that players and general managers are expecting the cap to rise in the near future.

There are a few factors that would lead to this conclusion, most notably the expansion to Seattle for the 2021-22 season and the signing of a new T.V. contract by 2022 that is expected to generate a large amount of revenue for the NHL.

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It’s no coincidence that most of these contracts are ending around the 2022 offseason when there will be an influx of money coming into the NHL. If things continue as expected, players like Point could cash in on their short-term, team-friendly contracts, signing record deals as the salary cap expands.

Point’s Contract a Big Win for Lightning

No matter what the future holds, Point’s contract is the best-case scenario for the Lightning. By taking a team-friendly deal in the short term, it will allow BriseBois to retain some of the young, talented core that will help shape this franchise in 2020 and beyond.

Tampa Bay Lightning Nikita Kucherov Brayden Point
Simply put, Point’s contract is the best-case scenario for the Lightning right now. It may cost them in the future, but they should be well equipped to handle that pay raise when it eventually hits. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Even if Point misses the first month of the season due to injury, he will hopefully be back in full form by December. While a 90 point season may not be possible after missing that much time, the Lightning have to be more than happy to have their young star back on their roster. Now both parties just have to prove that they can get it done when it matters most in the playoffs.