Sunday, 1 July 2018

BREAKING: Lightning Sign Ryan McDonagh to Seven-Year Extension

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today that they have signed defender Ryan McDonagh to a seven-year contract extension, worth $6.75M per season. According to Joe Smith of The Athletic, the deal comes with a full no-trade clause through 2026. McDonagh, who was acquired at the 2018 trade deadline from the New York Rangers, has one season remaining on his current contract.

As mentioned in this blog earlier in the offseason, McDonagh comes with a sterling reputation. Long viewed as one of the league's premier rearguards, he brings with him a pedigree that is nearly unmatched around the league. The trouble, of course, is that teams shouldn't sign seven year extensions to pay for past performance; they should be looking towards the future.

In this case, projections for future performance are iffy at best. A quick look at McDonagh's statistical trend line tells a concerning story:

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Opinion: Cashing in on Ryan McDonagh's Reputation Could Make Sense for Tampa Bay

As Raw Charge's @loserpoints eloquently points out, the Lightning paid a big price for Ryan McDonagh at the 2017 trade deadline, and need him to be a consistent presence to justify that price moving forward. The question this blogger has been wrestling with over the past number of weeks is whether it makes more sense for the Lightning to gamble on a McDonagh bounce back campaign or to cash in on his sterling reputation now by way of a trade. Having given it some measure of thought, I'm leaning more and more towards at least exploring the trade option to see if value can be derived there.

My reasoning for the aforementioned conclusion is essentially twofold:

1) The Lightning's *real* need is (and was at the time of the McDonagh acquisition, for that matter) on the right side of the blue line; and
2) The trendline in McDonagh's past performance suggests that his reputation might provide the Lightning with more value than any expected future results

Monday, 26 February 2018

Lightning Deal Namestnikov, Futures to Rangers for McDonagh, Miller

Imagine you're battling a bad case of the flu. The package of Tylenol says to take one dose of medicine every four hours, or six daily. Now imagine you only choose to take three of the six every day. You're probably still feeling quite sick. But, what would happen if you decided to add a fourth dose?  What if that fourth dose was extra strength?  You're likely still not feeling 100%, but I can guarantee that you're a heck of a lot better than you were when you were only taking three.

That's what happened to the Tampa Bay Lightning defence core today, when the team dealt Vladislav Namestnikov and some futures to the New York Rangers for Ryan McDonagh and JT Miller. Full particulars of the deal are included below:

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Could Nikita Kucherov get Connor McDavid Money?

Much has been made of the fact that the Tampa Bay Lightning have forward Nikita Kucherov under contract at $4.77M per season for this year and next.  Bolts GM Steve Yzerman has been given ample credit for getting one of the game's brightest stars under contract for a fraction of his true market value.  Cornered into signing a bridge deal at the end of his entry-level contract, Kucherov had little negotiating leverage and was all but forced into signing what the team put in front of him.  The long and tense negotiation and resulting team-friendly deal almost certainly played a role in Kucherov changing agents earlier this year.

The trouble with signing Kucherov to a deal with such bountiful short-term benefits is the long-term cost.  What could have been a long-term deal with a $6-7M cap hit two summers ago is now going to be much, much worse for the Lightning.  Kucherov's continued meteoric rise to stardom means that he will be able to command a tremendous amount of wealth on his next contract.

Still, there seems to be some underlying theory in Tampa hockey circles that, because Steven Stamkos took less and signed for $8.5M per season on his deal, Kucherov will do the same and come in around that same number.  With each passing day, that idea sounds more and more ridiculous.  In a league where stars are being paid big dollars earlier and earlier in their careers, the notion that Kucherov will settle below $8.5M because someone else did seems far-fetched.  Especially after the way his last contract negotiation went.

The question, then, is this: Could Nikita Kucherov get Connor McDavid money?

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Three Things: Lightning vs. Red Wings

Able to fight off a late third period flurry, the Tampa Bay Lightning held on for a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night, thus improving their record on the year to 9-1-1.  Here are tonight's three things:

Thing #1: Keeping the Streak(s) Alive

Two Lightning players came into tonight having a chance to do something special.  Both Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov had tallied at least a single point in each of the team's first ten games; the team record is an 11-game point streak to start a season, as set by Martin St. Louis.

Both players tied the record tonight, with Stamkos scoring a key third period goal and Kucherov scoring a goal of his own plus an assist.  They'll have a chance to set a new mark in franchise history on Saturday against a very good Anaheim Ducks team.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Three Things: Lightning @ Hurricanes

While the the great majority of civilization was watching baseball, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 5-1 on Tuesday night.  The scoreboard doesn't exactly reflect the way things went, however, as the 'Canes were the better team for most of the night.  The Lightning took advantage of bounces, an empty net (x2), and their goaltender's heroics to grab the victory.  Here are tonight's three things:

Thing #1: Vasilevskiy means business.

There were some questions about Andrei Vasilevskiy's readiness to be a #1 goaltender for this team.  While the sample size is still small, those questions have seemingly been answered:
Vasy was full value for the win in tonight's game.  He stopped 31 of 32 Hurricanes shots, nearly earning himself another shutout.  As the team in front of him flailed around and allowed flurries of activity in the defensive zone, Vasilevskiy stood tall and gave the group a shot at victory.

He leads the league in wins, sits top-5 in save percentage, and is T1 in shutouts.  Diving a little bit deeper, using Corsica.Hockey as a guide, it's clear that Vasilevskiy has been a big reason behind the Lightning's early success.  Prior to the inclusion of tonight's game's stats, Vasilevskiy was sitting amongst the top-10 in goals saved above average at five-on-five, and second overall in cumulative "star" rating.  He's doing the work of an elite goaltender at a relative fraction of the cost.

Questions?  Answered.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Slater Koekkoek is Knocking on Opportunity's Door

The Tampa Bay Lightning are reaping the rewards of giving consistent opportunity to a young defenseman who was taken inside the top-10 at the NHL draft.  Mikhail Sergachev has been a huge breath of fresh air for a Bolts defense that was built upon a foundation of more questions than answers heading into the 2017-18 campaign.  What the team has learned with Sergachev is that, if you give a talented young player the chance and are willing to forgive the occasional mistake, the rewards can be plentiful.  The prudent move now is to apply that experience to the treatment of Slater Koekkoek.

That TLL is pro-Koekkoek will come as no surprise to long-time readers, as evidenced here and here.  The fact of the matter is that a competent NHL team shouldn't take a player 10th overall at the draft and have him sit in no-man's-land during the prime of his career.  It's true that Koekkoek doesn't have an overtly strong resume behind him, but it's also true that to have experience on a resume you need playing time.  It's the age old tale of needing a job to get experience but needing experience to get the job.  Faulting Koekkoek for not having a resume to this point is not particularly fair.  The better thing to do is question whether or not Koekkoek has done anything that should dissuade the coaching staff from giving him that first taste of a REAL opportunity.