Friday, 26 February 2016

Coburn Extension Leaves More Questions than Answers

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced earlier today that they have re-signed defenseman Braydon Coburn to a three-year contract extension worth an average of $3.7MM per year.  Coburn, who turns 31 tomorrow, has played in 64 regular season games and 26 playoff games for Tampa since being acquired prior to last year's trade deadline.

My reaction to this announcement is admittedly not a positive one.  Don't get me wrong: Coburn hasn't been a brutal player for the Lightning like, say, Eric Brewer was during the latter days of his tenure.  Perhaps the highlight of his Lightning career to date was when he scored the game-winner in the team's pivotal Game Seven matchup with the Detroit Red Wings, which then helped to propel the team forward to the Stanley Cup Final.  I liked that moment just as much as any Lightning fan, but this decision to extend him for another three seasons?  It has me incredibly confused.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Reader Question: Will Drouin be moved by the deadline or will Yzerman wait until the draft?

One of my long-time readers, Sean L., asked me the following question: Will Jonathan Drouin be moved by the February 29th trade deadline or will the team wait to pull the trigger on a deal until the draft?  It's an almost impossible question to answer, especially when you consider that Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has a penchant for surprising the fanbase with trades out of left field.  We might wake up tomorrow to news that Drouin has been dealt.  We might go to bed three months from now with Drouin still sitting on the sidelines as Lightning property.  Predicting what Steve Yzerman is going to do is a bit like picking lottery numbers --- in almost every case, it's a pointless exercise!

With that in mind, a more answerable question might be: Should Yzerman trade Drouin before the deadline or wait until the draft?  But, again, it's tough to say.  There are so many variables to consider.  Can the team get fair value (a notoriously subjective thing) for Drouin before deadline?  Are they more likely to get a better return at the draft?  How long does the GM want to have the Drouin file sitting on his desk?  Which side is more likely to blink first?  The list of questions goes on and on.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Stamkos Sticking Around... for Now

Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman announced today that he will not be trading Captain Steven Stamkos before this month’s NHL trade deadline.  A preemptive move that will hopefully quiet the distracting speculation and rumormongering, Yzerman’s announcement was emphatically clear.  From the press release:
"As February 29th approaches, I am stating today that Steven Stamkos will not be traded before the NHL’s trade deadline. I have said repeatedly that it is our hope to reach an agreement with Steven on a new contract at some point, and with 27 games remaining in the season, our entire organization, Steven included, wants to focus on making the playoffs. I will keep the negotiating process strictly between the involved parties and have no further comment on the state of those negotiations."

There’s exactly zero wiggle room there.  Zero.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

J.T. Brown Continues to Give the Lightning Effective Minutes

I wrote earlier in the season that J.T. Brown had been really good for the Tampa Bay Lightning to that point.  It’s time to check in on the speedy forward once again.  The bottom line: He continues to give the Lightning really, really effective bottom-six minutes, and is quickly establishing himself as someone who should definitely be kept around moving forward.

It might seem a little bit crazy to fawn over a third line guy like that, but the reality of the situation is that depth is important.  Take a look at the Pittsburgh Penguins as a perfect example.  A team can have all the star power in the world, but without a strong supporting cast it’s going nowhere.  J.T. Brown is proving himself to be the definition of a strong supporting cast member this season.