Saturday, 1 July 2017

Brain Fart: Lightning Sign Girardi to Two-Year Contract

The Tampa Bay Lightning signed Dan Girardi, the former New York Rangers defenseman, to a two-year contract worth an average of $3M per season this morning.  In doing so, they have acquired a defenseman who simply isn't capable of keeping up in today's game, and was bought out in New York as a result.

When you look at Girardi's signing in a vacuum, it is what it is.  It's a bad contract for a now-bad player, but those get dished out in the NHL all the time these days.  Where things get confusing specific to the Lightning is that, just last week, the team gave up Nikita Gusev's rights, a second-round pick, and a fourth-round pick so they could unload Jason Garrison's contract.  This move was presumably made to open up a spot for one of the kids to play, such as a Slater Koekkoek or Mikhail Sergachev.  Instead, the Lightning chose to give up those assets to get rid of Garrison so that they could fill the spot with a worse player and an extra year of term:

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Tuesday's Tampa Recap: New Threads + A Pending Side Deal

On the new jerseys...

The big happening in the National Hockey League today was the reveal of the new Adidas jerseys that will be sported starting in 2017-18.  All teams underwent a makeover, with most deciding to go with minor tweaks rather than a major overhaul.  The Tampa Bay Lightning's, as an example, will remain almost exactly the same:
With the exception of the laces being gone on the neckline, Tampa's look won't change much when the squad hits the ice this Fall.  The naked eye won't tell you that this jersey has a crest that is 46% lighter than the old crest, nor will the naked eye tell you that the new threads are 133% more permeable than the previous Reebok jerseys.  The Lightning have something that works, and they've largely stuck to it.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Lightning, Peter Budaj Agree to Terms on a Two-Year Extension

The Tampa Bay Lightning took care of a minor housekeeping item today.  As per TSN's Bob McKenzie, the Bolts have a two-year agreement in place with backup goaltender Peter Budaj:
Budaj, 34, finished the season with Tampa Bay last year after being acquired as part of the deal that sent Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings.  In seven appearances with the Lightning, the veteran netminder posted a 3-1-0 record, 2.80 goals-against average, and .898 save percentage.  The numbers don't exactly jump off the page as superb or worthy of a multi-year deal, but Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is obviously hoping that Budaj can recapture some of the magic that saw him lead the Kings for most of the 2016-17 campaign.  What the Bolts are hoping to avoid, though, is the sort of goaltending that saw Budaj become a fringe NHLer during 2014-15 and 2015-16.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Koekkoek, Dotchin Exposed as Lightning Elect to Protect Coburn

NHL expansion draft protection lists were released at 10:00am 10:30am today.  There were no surprises up front or in goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning, with the following players being protected as per Erik Erlendsson of LightningInsider.com:
  • Ryan Callahan
  • Steven Stamkos
  • Tyler Johnson
  • Nikita Kucherov
  • Alex Killorn
  • Vladislav Namestnikov
  • Ondrej Palat
  • Andrei Vasilevskiy
Where things get a little bit interesting, however, is on defense.  The general consensus within Bolts Nation was that either Jake Dotchin or Slater Koekkoek was going to be exposed, while the other would be protected alongside Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman.  Well, both Hedman and Stralman were protected as expected (duh!), but both Dotchin and Koekkoek were exposed.  The Lightning instead opted to protect Braydon Coburn, who will be 33 years old by the end of next season.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Namestnikov is the Secret Prize in the Lightning's Drouin, Sergachev Deal

The Tampa Bay Lightning sent forward Jonathan Drouin to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for junior defenseman Mikhail Sergachev yesterday.  In doing so, the Bolts opened up an expansion draft protection spot that was almost certainly going to be occupied by the team's former Number-27.  If Drouin and the sort of mammoth deal he signed with the Canadiens wasn't in the long-term plans for Tampa, the timing of this trade couldn't have been better.  It will allow the team to protect Vladislav Namestnikov, a player who has the potential to be a cornerstone of the team's top six next year.

It's admittedly a little bit difficult to get overly excited about a player who potted 10 goals and 28 points last season, but Namestnikov's situation is a little bit unique.  The underlying numbers, both traditional and 'fancy', give plenty of reason for optimism.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

TRADE: Lightning Send Drouin, Conditional Sixth to Canadiens for Sergachev, Conditional Second

Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman has spoken at length this offseason about his desire to improve and solidify the team's blue line heading into the 2017-18 season.  He likely didn't do that today.  What he did do, however, was obtain one of the league's top defensive prospects, one who figures to be a mainstay on the Tampa blue line within the next couple years.  The Lightning today traded potential-star forward Jonathan Drouin to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for 2016 9th overall pick, Mikhail Sergachev:
Only moments after the trade was announced, the Canadiens inked Drouin to a six-year deal worth $5.5M per season.  Sergachev, who still has another year of junior eligibility, remains on his entry-level contract:
The trade sent shockwaves through the hockey world, to say the least.  It was expected that the Lightning would do something this offseason, but this specific deal with the Canadiens wasn't on anybody's radar.  It's a move that comes with significant risk and offsetting potential rewards for both sides, so naturally the intrigue level is high.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Rumor: Lightning, Canadiens Discussing a Galchenyuk-for-Drouin Swap

Ever since the Tampa Bay Lightning shut the doors on their 2016-17 season, the hockey world has been waiting for Steve Yzerman to drop a shoe.  The general consensus has been that he will look to deal a young forward (i.e. Jonathan Drouin) for help on the blue line (e.g. Ryan Ellis, Matt Dumba, Sami Vatanen).  The assumption has always been that a simple deal of that sorts would help to propel the Bolts back to post-season contention in 2018.

As someone who is and always has been firmly on Team Drouin, I haven't been a huge fan of the idea that Tampa should trade him for a defender.  Drouin has the potential to be really, really special.  You don't trade a player of that caliber for anything but a top-pairing defender.  The Lightning don't need a top-pairing defender; they have one in Victor Hedman.  Instead, what the Lightning need is someone who can step in on a second pair and take minutes away from players like Andrej Sustr and Jason Garrison.  That's the pressing need on this roster.