Lightning Rumors: Erik Cernak Becoming Trade Candidate

As the Tampa Bay Lightning grapple with a tight salary cap, defenseman Erik Cernak has become a prominent trade candidate, a situation driven by financial strategy rather than performance issues, as noted by Adam Gretz of Bleacher Report.

With only $12 million in cap space available and key roster spots to fill, the Lightning face the challenge of balancing a competitive team while managing fiscal constraints.

The need to possibly extend contracts for pivotal players like Steven Stamkos adds further pressure, making the shedding of substantial contracts like Cernak's—a $5 million annual hit for the next seven years—a practical necessity for roster flexibility.

Cernak's value on the ice is undeniable; however, the structure of his contract, particularly the looming activation of his no-trade clause on July 1, makes swift action crucial.

Cernak signed an 8-year, $41.6M contract in 2022, holding an AAV of $5.2M.

This past season, the 26-year-old recorded two goals, 13 total points, a +5 plus/minus rating, 109 blocked shots, and 198 hits over 69 games played.

Trading him before this clause takes effect could prevent future complications, allowing the Lightning more freedom in their roster decisions.

Over his six-year NHL career, spent entirely with the Lightning, Cernak has scored 20 goals, 88 total points, a +64 plus/minus rating, 504 blocked shots, and 1,040 hits across 365 games played. Photo Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports