Nikita Kucherov snaps back at Dougie Hamilton’s salary cap comments

nhl free agency
May 30, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton (19) and Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) battle over the puck during the second period in game one of the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

In the wake of their series defeat to the Tampa Bay Lighting, Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton took a backhanded shot at the victors.

“We had a great season. We lost to a team that’s $18 million over the cap, or whatever they are,” Hamilton remarked about losing to Tampa. I don’t have a problem with it,” Hamilton finished. “You just realize how good that team was.”

To be fair, Hamilton had a point.

Tampa Bay Lightning cap situation irked some GM’s

This season, the Lightning were almost $17 million over the cap. A large chunk of that was used up by Nikita Kucherov who spent the entire regular season on LTIR. The $9.5 million relief was used by Tampa to retain two key RFA’s in Anthony Cirelli and Mikael Sergachev to start the season.

Tampa didn’t stop there.

With other injuries to players like Steven Stamkos, they went out and acquired David Savard at the deadline to boost their defense. A perfect “storm” if you will my Canes fans.

When Kucherov started practicing back in March some GMs were up in arms behind closed doors asking who is monitoring the situation. “They are obliged to make room for him or in theory they can’t use him. Which, again in theory, could affect his playoff availability,” Pierre Lebrun tweeted. “Call me naive but I don’t think the Cup champs are playing around with this. The league is watching.”

The league also watched Tom Wilson sucker punch a prone player and then bodyslam another but only so it fit to fine him $5000. Just saying.

Nikita Kucherov stikes back

NIKITA KUCHEROV
Sep 25, 2020; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) skates against the Dallas Stars during the third period in game four of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Lightning forward, Nikita Kucherov heard Hamilton’s comments and took them a bit personally.

“I didn’t make the rules with the cap” he said today. “I didn’t do anything on purpose.” Kucherov continued to discuss his surgery and five month of rehab. “And when the time came, I was playing.”

Funny how that all perfectly worked out for Game 1 of the playoffs when the salary cap was no longer in effect.

However, Kucherov is right. He did nothing wrong and neither the Tampa Bay Lightning. They played within the rules established by the league. The NHL also does not have a problem with it, as it’s been used by almost every team at some point.

Still, this is a fine example of why there needs to be some reform to the rules. Kucherov was practicing for weeks before the playoffs started, and if was able to play then it would have had serious ramifications to the Lightning roster.

The NHL should revisit this and fix this issue accordingly.