Lightning are NHL's smartest spenders

Steve Yzerman has earned high marks for his shrewd moves as the Lightning's GM. Cliff Welch/Icon SMI

Steve Yzerman gets an A-plus in cap management this season.

The Tampa Bay Lightning's rookie general manager not only helped the team make an impressive 24-point gain in the standings over last season, he also helped it finish the season as the lowest spender among the 16 playoff teams.

The Lightning collected 46 wins and 103 points while spending an estimated $50.3 million -- about $9.1 million below the $59.4 million upper limit.

In a CapGeek.com analysis of cap dollars spent per standings point, Tampa Bay is far and away the leader with a ratio of $488,893. The high-spending Vancouver Canucks, winners of the 2010-11 Presidents' Trophy, checked in at No. 2 with a ratio of $507,692 per standings point.

So how did the Lightning manage to pull this off?

On the surface, it might seem like the numbers wouldn't work out so well for a team paying $7.7 million for Vincent Lecavalier and $5.25 million for Simon Gagne. While those two players finished third and fifth in team scoring, respectively, their production (54 and 40 points) doesn't quite match their hefty price tags.

But Yzerman did a fine job of getting his value elsewhere.