The Tampa Bay Lightning have made their decision, now they have to live with it

The Tampa Bay Lightning have brought in Jake Guentzel, altering the core group of the team forever. Now they need to live with it.
Tampa Bay Lightning v Florida Panthers - Game One
Tampa Bay Lightning v Florida Panthers - Game One / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

The Tampa Bay Lightning made a big decision just ahead of free agency, trading for Jake Guentzel.

Guentzel signed with the Lightning on Monday morning, just before the start of free agency on a seven year deal worth $9 million per season. While the former two-time Stanley Cup champion is well worth the $63 million contract he signed in Tampa, this does alter the current trajectory of the team.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have made their decision, now they have to live with it.

The large elephant in the room here has to do with the Lightning's current captain—Steven Stamkos.

Stamkos was not extended throughout this past season, the entire process was drawn out. Now heading into free agency it looks like the former first overall pick and long time Bolt will be finding a new home.

General manager Julien BriseBois is doing what he thinks is best for the future of the Tampa Bay Lightning. That is evident in bringing in Guentzal a young goal scorer who the GM belives can help lead this team into the playoffs for years to come. But Stamkos is the face of the franchise, and while he will always be a Bolt for life exits like this will always be remembered.

Stamkos took a pay cut on his last contract to stay in Tampa Bay. The entire process was drown out then when he signed an eight year extension with the Lightning on June 29, 2016. Now eight years later, he has captained a team to the Stanley Cup Final three times, winning two cups along the way and has been a difference maker for the team his entire career.

While the Lightning can replace the goal scoring ability of Stamkos with Guentzel, there is one thing that could be hard to replace—his leadership.

The Lightning will have to live with this decision. They have altered the core of a team that went to three straight Stanley Cup Finals and won two championships. What remains to be seen is if they can win again.

There is an upside with bringing ing Guentzel. The team did just get younger and at $9 million, he still is not the heighest paid player on this team. Guentzel can slot into a core group of forwards of Kucherov, Point, Hagel and Cirrelli.

When the time comes and Stamkos retires as a Bolt and eventually gets his number retired by the organization hopefully there are a few more championship banners in the rafters to help the organization live with the decision of moving on from their longtime captain.