Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Yzerman Deals Filppula to Philadelphia, Cements Himself as a Trade Wizard

Never in the history of hockey has selling felt and looked so good.  After moving on from pending free agents Ben Bishop and Brian Boyle earlier in the week, Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman did the seemingly impossible when he moved Valtteri Filppula to Philadelphia in advance of Wednesday's trade deadline.  The full particulars of the trade were as follows:

To: Tampa Bay
Mark Streit

To: Philadelphia
Valtteri Filppula
2017 Fourth Round Pick
2017 Seventh Round Pick

Monday, 27 February 2017

Lightning Trade Brian Boyle to Maple Leafs

If sending Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings in a deal yesterday didn't signal to the league that the Tampa Bay Lightning are sellers, today's trade that sent Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a 2017 second-round pick and forward Byron Froese certainly should:
A pending-UFA, Boyle finishes his Lightning career having scored 41 goals and 66 points in 212 games.  Signed during the summer of 2014, Boyle was instrumental in solidifying Tampa's fourth line on its way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015 and Eastern Conference Final in 2016.  He had a job to do, and on most nights he did it really well.  Fans and coaches alike knew exactly what they were going to get from #11 whenever he took to the ice.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

BREAKING: Lightning Trade Goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings

The Tampa Bay Lightning are officially trade deadline sellers.  TSN's Bob McKenzie is reporting that GM Steve Yzerman has traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings:
With the Lightning mired in a down year and facing the reality of a tremendous cap crunch in the offseason, Bishop, a pending UFA, had to be moved.  The fact of the matter is that Andrei Vasilevskiy is more than capable of manning the Tampa crease, and at a fraction of the cost.  Of course, just because trading Bishop has looked like the smart thing to do for a while doesn't mean that it was ever a guarantee.  The market for goaltenders is notoriously weak, and there were other options available (read: Ryan Miller).  The fact that Yzerman was able to turn a great asset like Bishop into something, even if the return isn't of a jump-for-joy sort of quality, makes this a great day for the Tampa Bay Lightning organization.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Opinion: Cashing in on Boyle's Career-High Shooting Percentage is Smart Business

It's been a rough year for the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Stuck near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the team everyone saw as a Stanley Cup contender just a few months ago is now faced with the very real prospect of being a seller at this year's trade deadline.  While things feel slightly rosier right now, thanks to a four-game point streak (3W, 1SOL), the reality of the situation is still rather bleak: Per SportsClubStats.com, as of writing time the Lightning only have an 11.5% chance of making the postseason.

Because of that unfortunate probability, the rumor mill has been rampant with speculation that GM Steve Yzerman might be willing to pull the trigger on deals as the deadline approaches.  Valtteri Filppula's name has been out there for a while, Ben Bishop is almost certainly available, and there's even been some talk about one of the triplets being a potential target for teams in advance of March 1st.  Another guy who might (read: should) be on the market?  Brian Boyle.  Things on that front kicked up a notch today:
While some fans have been reluctant to consider the possibility of trading Boyle, that report from CBC's Elliotte Friedman should change the equation.  If Steve Yzerman can turn a 32-year-old, fourth-line center on an expiring contract into a first-round pick, he'd be foolish not to.  Even if this year's entry draft isn't as strong or deep as one might like, a first-round pick is still a tremendously valuable commodity.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Memo to Drouin: "There is More Than One Net in a Rink"

We all know that Jonathan Drouin is not good defensively.  Twitter says so.

Unfortunately, things are getting worse by the day.  The offense is disappearing.  The defense is non-existent.  Drouin is suffering through the worst season of his young career.

That's it.  I said it.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

#DistantThunder: Chasing the Lightning Across Western Canada

I grew up just outside Vancouver, British Columbia.  I now live right in the heart of Edmonton, Alberta, just a few blocks away from the newly-constructed Rogers Place.  I've never called Tampa, Florida home.  I have no family connections in Tampa, or the southern United States for that matter.  So, it comes as little surprise that I've been asked the whole "How did you become a Lightning fan?" question a million times.  I wrote about that in an early blog here at The Lightning Lounge.

According to Google maps, the distance between my condo and Amalie Arena is in excess of 4,000 kilometers.  It would take approximately 42 hours to make that trek in a car, and it's basically a full-day journey by plane given that there's almost always a connecting flight involved.  The tremendous distance between my place of abode and the team I cheer for every night is what makes the Lightning's now-annual swing through Western Canada so special.  Getting down to Amalie Arena obviously isn't the easiest thing in the world for me, but walking two blocks to Rogers Place is quite literally a walk in the park(ing lot).

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Coburn's Play an Unexpected Bright Spot for the Struggling Lightning

A lot has been made over the last couple seasons of the Tampa Bay Lightning's salary cap management.  Contracts like Ryan Callahan's and Braydon Coburn's left fans puzzled, as the need for dollars to re-sign players like Nikita Kucherov and Jonathan Drouin, among others, is significant.  As much as the decision to sign Coburn to a three-year, $11.1M extension through the 2018-19 season left this blogger with a lot of question marks, his play on the ice this season has left me with anything but.  In short, he's been an unexpected bright spot for a struggling Bolts team to start the year.

To truly understand why the descriptor "unexpected" was used in that last sentence, it's important to look at some of Coburn's historical numbers, courtesy of Puckalytics.com:

In short, the trend over the past handful of seasons hasn't been pretty.  With the exception of 2013-14, Coburn has been a drag on team shot attempt share every year since 2009-10.  The thought from many when the Lightning extended Coburn was simple: Did it make sense to use finite cap space on a now 30-plus-year-old defender who hasn't been a consistent driver of shot attempts for quite some time?  Likely not.