Saturday, 15 October 2016

Scratching Koekkoek Takes One of the Lightning's Better Defenders Out of the Lineup

Per Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, there will be no lineup changes for the Tampa Bay Lightning for tonight's game against the New Jersey Devils aside from a goaltending switch.  That means that 22-year-old Slater Koekkoek, the team's first round pick from the 2012 draft, will once again find himself on popcorn duty.

The good new for the Lightning is that they don't have a history of scratching supremely talented young players who have proven that they are ready to contribute at hockey's highest level.  They don't have a history of driving those players to the brink, resulting in a showdown between player and management.  They don't have a history of needing a magic breakfast meeting to smooth things over, either.

Oh, right.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Making Dollars (and Cents) of Kucherov's Three-Year Contract

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced yesterday that Nikita Kucherov has signed a three-year deal, confirmed by Bob McKenzie as being worth $4.766M per season:
The deal, which keeps Kucherov in Bolts blue while the team works to get its "cap house" in order, was signed just in time for Number-86 to be in the lineup for Thursday's season opener against the Detroit Red Wings.

Monday, 10 October 2016

REPORT: Kucherov, Lightning Getting Close to a Deal

After months of radio silence, it sounds like a deal between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nikita Kucherov is getting close.  Per TSN's Bob McKenzie:
If there's one thing the hockey world knows about Bob, it's that he won't go live with that sort of report unless he has a substantive reason to do so.  In short, there is tremendous reason for optimism if you're a fan of Kucherov and the Lightning.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Point's Preseason Play Provides Lightning with Reason for Optimism

As the clock continues to tick on the NHL's preseason, Nikita Kucherov remains without a contract.  One of the big questions for the Tampa Bay Lightning right now is who can and will step up to serve as a "replacement" for the dynamic Russian should the need arise.  If preseason play is any indication, Brayden Point appears poised to do the job well.

The general consensus heading into camp was that Cory Conacher would fit the role, having performed at a high level with the Lightning's top players in the past.  That much was made clear by Lightning Assistant GM Julien BriseBois, who framed Conacher's situation as follows:
If the plan is for him to be up with the Lightning all year anyways, it just makes sense to slide him into Kucherov's spot until Kucherov signs on the dotted line, right?  Even if Conacher isn't the offensive dynamo and everyday NHL player he appeared to be during his original stint with the Lightning, him taking a short-term tour of duty playing in a familiar top-six setting likely can't turn into a disaster.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Lightning to Retire Marty St. Louis' Number-26

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced today that they will be retiring Martin St. Louis' Number-26.  Scheduled for January 13th, the ceremony will mark the return of a player who defined what it meant to be a Bolt for so long.  While his departure from the team is marked with controversy, the fact remains that Marty is and was the best of the best in Lightning blue.  While people can debate the timing of the honor, there is no denying that it is well deserved.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Making (Dollars and) Cents of the Nikita Kucherov Contract Negotiation

I wrote earlier in the week about the Tampa Bay Lightning's unenviable situation with restricted free agent Nikita Kucherov.  In short, he's not showing up until he has signed on the dotted line.  The big question, though, is what the contract above that dotted line might look like.  There's been a lot of talk of long-term deals and big money contracts, but one under-discussed option is that of a bridge deal; the idea was first floated to the masses by Mike Gallimore earlier in the year:
At first blush, the thought of a bridge deal seems patently unfair to a player who has scored 131 points in 159 games over the last two seasons.  It seems almost like a penalty against a player who is arguably the team's offensive leader.  Why should Kucherov have to sign a short-term deal worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $4M per season given all he's done for the team?  Don't be a monster, Steve!!