Hurricanes’ Dougie Hamilton On Five-Game Second Round Loss To Lightning: “We Lost To A Team $18 Million Over The Cap”

Photo: DonBest

After the Carolina Hurricanes’ five-game series loss in the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Tampa Bay Lightning, defenseman Dougie Hamilton had some choice words during his teams’ locker room cleanout day.

“We lost to a team $18 million over the [salary] cap,” the 27-year-old, who could become an unrestricted free agent on July 28, said on Thursday. He added, “I don’t have a problem with it, you just realize how good that team was.”

The Lightning missed forward Nikita Kucherov, who carries a $9.5 million cap hit and leads the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs with 13 assists and 18 points, during the entire regular season, and captain Steven Stamkos, who did not play after April 8 due to a lower-body injury and has tallied five goals and 13 points in 11 games during the tournament, for a large portion of it. Stamkos, 31, carries an $8.5 million cap hit.

Because Kucherov and Stamkos were on long-term injured reserve, the Lightning had an extra $18 million available in salary cap space. At the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline, they used that cap space to acquire defenseman David Savard from the Columbus Blue Jackets and defenseman Fredrik Claesson from the San Jose Sharks.

Since the salary cap is turned off when the regular season ends, the Lightning were above the it …by a lot. It is fair to wonder whether they sat their two stars out for the remainder of the regular season in a top-heavy Central Division to get some salary-cap flexibility. The Lightning finished the regular season third in the Central with 75 points, five behind the Hurricanes for first.

The Lightning had to sign center Anthony Cirelli, defenseman Erik Cernak, and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, who were all restricted free agents, before the season started. They tried to trade center Tyler Johnson, who cleared waivers on October 10, but no one was willing to take on his $5 million cap hit with a flat salary cap.

The Lightning will face the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup Semifinals in a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference Final after the Islanders eliminated the Boston Bruins in Game 6 with a 6-2 win at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday. The Lightning will have home ice but a date for Game 1 has yet to be announced.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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10 Responses to Hurricanes’ Dougie Hamilton On Five-Game Second Round Loss To Lightning: “We Lost To A Team $18 Million Over The Cap”

  1. Scottlew73 says:

    Wow what a quality opinion, considering he’s played on @ least 3 teams in his first ten years in the league. Pretty much every team that’s had Dougie can’t wait to get rid of him! Maybe if he’d sacrifice for his teammates he’d be picked up by Tampa!

  2. Anonymous says:

    What does Douggie being traded to so many teams have to do with Tampa circumventing the league??

  3. Anonymous says:

    If Tampa wins the cup they should have an * next to their name on the cup.

  4. Andrew says:

    If the players care about Tampa allegedly circumventing the cap, then they have the chance to fix it. The salary cap exception rules are entirely at the demand of the NHLPA. If the players care so much, then they should demand that the rules be changed in the collective agreement.

  5. Joe says:

    Tampa Bay followed the rules. Carolina or any team could have done exactly the same. And Tampa was exactly 1 Kucherov over the regular season limit. Since Carolina only managed 6 goals in their 4 losses, I don’t think Kucherov was the problem.

    • Anonymous says:

      No but the two good defensemen Tampa was able to get because of it might have played apart. I think the league should look into weather these two stars should have come back sooner and then Tampa would have had to make some moves. To keep star players only for the playoffs so you have more cap room is questionable

  6. Eric Lord says:

    I don’t like the fact that Tampa Bay has been significantly over the salary cap all season long, but it isn’t their fault. They just exploited the loop holes that are in the CBA. The one aspect that I’d like to see the NHL change is to prevent team’s already over the cap from trading for players just to put them on LTIR. The Lightning did that this season with Marian Gaborik & Anders Nilsson. Doing that forces teams over the cap, like the Lightning, to make tough decisions if they want to make a trade to improve their team.

  7. Anonymous says:

    according to capfriendly, there are 15 teams over the cap. the Lightning are the most over. Only 5 of the 16 teams that made the playoffs are under the cap.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The 10 penalties to 3 in one game against the hurricanes was a nice little boost also

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