Kucherov counters Hamilton's salary cap comment: 'I didn't make the rules'
"I didn't make the rules with the cap," Kucherov said Friday, according to The Athletic's Joe Smith. "It's not me. I didn't do anything on purpose. I had to do the surgery. I had to go through the whole five months of rehabilitation, and when the time came and I was ready to play, I was playing."
Kucherov missed the entire 2020-21 campaign after undergoing hip surgery in the offseason, allowing the Bolts to alleviate their cap crunch by placing his $9.5 million average annual value on long-term injured reserve, where it wouldn't count against the cap.
The former Hart Trophy winner returned for the playoff opener and currently leads all skaters with 18 points in 11 playoff games.
If Kucherov hadn't missed the entire season, Tampa Bay likely would've been forced to part with a valuable player, such as Alex Killorn, to get under the cap. Otherwise, the Lightning would've likely had to send a significant sweetener to another team for taking on a player with an undesirable contract, like fourth-liner Tyler Johnson, who carries a $5-million cap hit.
However, Tampa was able to activate Kucherov for the postseason with no repercussions since the cap doesn't apply to the playoffs.
The Bolts' final cap hit was $98.8 million - $17.3 million over the ceiling - per CapFriendly.