Some may call the Tampa Bay Lightning cheaters. Others may call them brilliant.
Many hockey fans have criticized the Bolts throughout the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs because they’re $18 million over the salary cap, as Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton recently mentioned.
Lightning star forward Nikita Kucherov, who spent the entire regular season on injured reserve, responded to Hamilton’s comment on Friday.
Kucherov missed the entire regular season after undergoing hip surgery in the offseason, allowing the Lightning to alleviate their cap situation by placing his $9.5 million salary on long-term injured reserve, where it wouldn’t count against the cap.
If the 27-year-old didn’t miss the entire season, the Lightning would’ve been forced to part ways with a valuable asset, such as Alex Killorn, in order to get under the salary cap.
Since the salary cap does not apply to the playoffs, Tampa was able to activate Kucherov without consequences.
According to CapFriendly, the Bolts are currently $17.3 million over the salary cap, which is somewhat of an unfair advantage considering the other three remaining playoff teams are closer to the cap limit.