Yzerman’s trades bringing the thunder to the Lightning

A storm is brewing in Tampa Bay and when the clouds clear, fans won’t recognize their team.

There’s a sense of giddiness in the air for Lightning fans, the kind a small child has when he peers out the window to see a heat Lightning show spread across the sky on a Florida summer night.

Surely the league has heard the thunderous ringtone from general manager Steve Yzerman’s office this weekend. It almost feels like the general manager is attempting to load up to win now instead of doing a reload for a new season.

As I was just about to hit publish, Yzerman struck again. And I’m sure by the time I do hit publish, another trade will go down.

How’s this for you this week for roster additions/subtractions:

That’s in addition to locking up Ryan Callahan, several restricted free agents including Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Richard Panik and taking a serious run for the first-overall pick in the draft by offering up an enticing trade for Dale Tallon. (You do wonder now if Purcell and Gagner were included in that proposed deal, or if Yzerman could have flipped Gagner to the Panthers for the pick with other players.)

Oh, and Jonathan Drouin is all but expected to play with the big team next year.

It’s amazing that coupled with the Martin St. Louis trade, Yzerman has both been able to be brave to pull off big trades and make serious moves to upgrade the team.

Who did he talk to during this UFA courting period to free up to pull these moves now to go after a key free agent? Hopefully we’ll find out by July 1.

The Edmonton/Arizona moves are to free up $5.5 million in salary, TSN reported in the Gagner trade, but with the Lightning retaining $1.6 million plus a $231,000 cap penalty for bonuses awarded, according to Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson, that’s more than the $1.15 million B.J. Crombeen earned.

Then with Thompson headed to Anaheim, his $1.6 million then negated the $1.6 retained in the Ganger trade. Got it?

The official numbers are $5.5 million in cash and $5.65 million in cap space, according to Pierre LeBrun.

What this does do is immediately dump a contract. NHL teams are only allowed to have 50 contracts and a 90-player maximum reserve, which include prospects on entry-level deals in the AHL. From what I see on Cap Geek, I think the team may be right up at that limit or near it. Now, the players in juniors don’t count because the clock doesn’t tick on those entry-level deals until they play 11 games in one NHL season.

A couple of prior draft classes could see their time to move up into the AHL like Adam Erne and the NHL with Drouin that will start ticking contracts. And yes, there is still a back-up goalie to be signed in the free agent market, whether it would be Lindback or others.

Now, about that second trade sending Gagner to the Coyotes:

Canadian Press reporter Stephen Whyno tweeted some nuggets from Arizona Coyotoes GM Don Maloney  about the trade, essentially that he wanted to trade for him from the Oilers but money was too high and Oilers GM Craig MacTavish already traded him to Tampa Bay, so Yzerman and Maloney had a drink separately to think it over and Yzerman decided to keep one-third of the salary in a trade to Arizona if they take B.J. Crombeen and send back a pick.

Maloney also told Whyno that Coyotes wanted Gagner from Lightning before Bolts would buyout contract and make Gagner a UFA.

This Lightning team is certainly different from the one that lost four straight against the Canadiens. The young players, many of them rookies will all be a year older. Hopefully the sophomore slump doesn’t come with.

This is also why I regret getting player autographs because they like get shipped out in the next season, and why I rarely get hockey sweaters with names on the back. (Oops on the Lecavalier purchase.)

But I won’t regret seeing whatever line-up is on the ice this season.

Tampa’s suddenly dandy defense

The Tampa Bay Lightning knew they could use a couple of key items during the offseason.

One of them was a young, experienced defenseman and another was a back-up goaltender. Steve Yzerman continued to tidy up his summer shopping list with a nice taking from the Vancouver Canucks.

How Jason Garrison came back to the Sunshine State is interesting when you look at what’s involved:

Tampa gets Jason Garrison, rights to a college prospect in Notre Dame’s Jeff Costello and a seventh-round pick in next year’s draft all for the price of a second-round pick.

Despite the declaration that the 2014 draft lacks high-end players, a second-round pick in any draft can yield a pretty good defenseman. Taking into consideration that Jason Garrison got into the league as an undrafted college player, this pick is fair. And so I wonder why a prospect, which Vancouver just acquired from Ottawa this spring, and a low-round pick are being packaged in the deal.

Steve Yzerman has two first-round picks, so why would Vancouver give up additional assets?

Yzerman talked up how beneficial Garrison’s contract is structured, but he now is the second-highest paid defenseman on Tampa’s blue line behind Matt Carle and ahead of Victor Hedman. The $4.6 million cap hit worked for Yzerman but he could have played up on new Canucks GM Jim Benning, “geez, you know, that’s a lot of salary to be taking on for a defenseman this young. Throw in a couple of insurance measures, will ya?”

Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson looked at how the financials break down:

The contract carries a salary cap hit of $4.6 million, and includes a $1.5-million signing bonus the next two seasons. The 29-year-old will make $5 million this season, $4.5 million next season, $3.6 million in 2016-17 and $2.5 million in the final year of the deal. Tampa Bay had interest in signing Garrison when he was a free agent two years ago and he waived his no-trade clause to allow the deal to be made.

“As a player you always want to play for somebody who wants you there,’’ Garrison said. “I think if you are in a situation where they want to move you, and you just stay, you may not be as happy as playing for somebody who wants you and thinks you can play a role.”

Garrison earned his coin pumping shots on the Panthers power play, getting his hometown team Canucks to agree on a six-year, $27.6 million in 2012.  It was because of that 2012 season he got a contract, setting Florida franchise records for most goals by a defenseman in a season, 16, and tied for power play goals for a defenseman in a season with 9.

I appreciated what Garrison brought to the Panthers and was shocked the team wasn’t able to keep him as they desperately needed a winner. It turns out ownership was on its way out, leaving Dale Tallon in a salary squeeze.

Garrison also has a history of groin injuries that can become a major issue–especially on less than desirable ice conditions. The Caps had a run of bad luck with groin injuries over the years with Chris Clark, Tom Poti and Brooks Laich all having long layoffs.

He got lucky in the lockout shortened season, being able to do 47 of the 48 games to recover from his groin injury. In a full season, he only missed one game. Let’s see how he does on ice back in a state that has its ice issues.

After the trade, the team also announced Mark Barberio re-signed with the team, leaving a few defenseman left to take care of. Sami Salo is an unrestricted free agent, and I’d like to see him come back feeding pucks on the point to Garrison as long as he can keep up the pace.

I didn’t realize that Sami Salo is actually older than Dan Boyle. Salo will turn 40 in September while Boyle will turn 38 in July. It could be a push as Salo had his share of serious injuries. Boyle, another former Florida Panther, has put up more points, but you realize he is a risk for giving up goals.

They’re both right-handed shots, too, and it would seem as if it would be a fair swap, but there might not be room for Salo or Boyle now with six NHL defenseman signed. I doubt Yzerman would want Salo or Boyle or even Gudas sitting out as a seventh defeseman. With Barberio on a one-way contract now, only Gudas could be sent down.

It would be nice to have a grizzled, affordable stay-at-home veteran to help the younger defenseman to come along while not hurting the team when they’re in the line-up.  It would help keep the Syracuse Crunch stocked, which missed the playoffs.

Yzerman addressed that situation with Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, albeit about forwards, about what happens when you have good prospects:

“But its American Hockey League affiliate, Syracuse, might as Tampa Bay used a lot of its depth in playing 12 rookies, including forwards and rookie of the year finalists Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat.

Jonathan Drouin, the first-round pick in 2013 (third overall), is likely to impact the club this season. So, as Yzerman says, their “depth of prospects were depleted because we put them on the NHL team.”

Remember that Andrej Sustr was sent down during the season after initially making the team and that at the end, Lightning saw the names of Keith Aulie and Mike Kostka find their ways in the lineup. It would behoove the Lightning to let these younger defenseman develop and became more reliable during a call-up when the more experienced blue liners are injured.

In Friday’s first round, Yzerman selected Sarnia Sting defenseman Anthony DeAngelo, a native of South Philadelphia, as an offensive-defenseman. In a year, he could help that case to stock up the AHL club. It should be noted that DeAngelo is trying to drop his reputation after being suspended for using slurs against an official and a teammate.  Let’s hope Tampa and Syracuse can help build him back up.

“He’s going to have to change if he’s going to make it as a professional hockey player,” Yzerman told TSN’s James Duthie during the NHL Draft broadcast, adding he thinks he’s going to change for the better.

The second first-round pick was sent to the Islanders forth the 38th and 57th picks. Turning that conditional first-round pick acquired from the Rangers for Martin St. Louis into second and third round picks. Quantity is better at this stage given the slimmer chances that these lower picks get. That’s only seven spots back from the first pick when you look at it.

This GM has some major balls, and they’re working just fine so far.

Going back to Cally, Cally, Cally


Fans and media buzzed Wednesday morning with the Tampa Bay Lightning both announced locking Ryan Callahan to a deal and buying out Ryan Malone.

Maybe not so much the second item.

No matter what team was going to sign Callahan, they were probably going to overpay when looking at this stat sheet. He’s not expected to put up 40 goals, 82 games played is a wish but he keeps his nose clean except when going to the net. Something Malone could have learned.

Callahan’s six-year, $34.8 million deal will carry an annual average value of $5.8 million, reported Tampa Tribune’s Erik Erlendsson. Fans balked at the price on Twitter, especially after the Los Angeles Kings said they nailed down Marian Gaborik for a seven-year deal that averages $4.87 million a year. The extra year could skew that average, plus we don’t know the year-to-year structure and any back-diving.

A power forward making bank who’s oft-injured should sound familiar to the Bolts because they just bought that man out. Ryan Malone was signed to a seven-year contract with the Bolts that had an average annual value and cap hit of $4.5 million. The first three years paid Bugsy $6 million (!!!), then $5.5 million, $3 million and ended with $2.5 million for this year and next year.

Obviously the team didn’t get leadership in that package deal. Just a well tanned party boy, it turns out. Really, it’s more horrific seeing that Malone made about the same as Gaborik will in his new deal. It’s all about winning the Cup at the right time to cash in.

What I’m saying is that there is hope that this $5.8 million is worth it if the intangibles can equal out the rest.  He clearly wanted to be here, especially because he didn’t even enter the courting period for other teams to contact him, he told the Tampa Bay Times:

“It was really important,” Callahan said. “To have that security — not for me, but for the family and for the kids. Nobody likes to be uprooted and move in the middle of the season.”

That is saying more than that man who he was traded for. I’ll take that deal any day.

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Tampa Bay Lightning hope for lucky strike in Vegas (Lightning Links)

Wynn Las Vegas

The NHL Awards will broadcast from the Encore Theater at the Wynn in Las Vegas. Photo by Charles Schelle

The NHL Awards are finally here, set to broadcast at 7 p.m. Tuesday on NBCSN, with the Bolts leading away.

The team has done well for itself getting deserved coverage this past week for each of its nominees: goalie Ben Bishop, coach Jon Cooper plus rookies Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat.

Dan Rosen of NHL.com looked at how the Lightning and Colorado Avalanche are leading the top nominees at the awards, and everyone is all smiles, including Johnson:

“To come to the awards like this, I never really thought it was possible so just to be here is a dream come true,” Johnson said. “It’s even better to have the guys on our team, like it’s a little team reunion so it’s a lot of fun.”

While I’m eager to hear Johnson’s night on the town in Vegas, I’m still waiting to hear more of his Red Light District visit in Amsterdam.

The awards are noted for their awkwardness with selecting Canadian bands nobody heard of, or nobody wants to hear from again or Def Leppard putting the goddamn trophy upside down. There are also celebrity presenters who screw up names. As Puck Daddy’s Greg  Wyshynski opined in 2012, despite bringing in Nickelback and then Jay Mohr for a second time, IMG Productions helped improve the broadcast and the celebrity line-up as the sports mogul also has a long list of actors and models at its disposal. That ought to be a wider net now that IMG was acquired by powerhouse agency William Morris. (Full disclosure: I cover IMG Academy’s business dealings in Bradenton for my employer.)

Here are this year’s celebrities, according to the NHL:

Current and former NHLers P.K. SubbanChris ProngerRich PeverleyDanny DeKeyserMichael Pecaand Luc Robitaille will present alongside notable hockey fans David Boreanaz (“Bones”), Cuba Gooding Jr. (“The Butler”), Retta (“Parks and Recreation”), Eric Stonestreet (“Modern Family”) andDavid Walton (“About a Boy”). Longtime hockey fans Michael J. Fox (“Family Ties”), Susan Sarandon (“Tammy”), James Lipton (“Insider the Actor’s Studio”), Kevin Connolly (“Entourage”) and Whoopi Goldberg (“The View”) also will be featured during the broadcast in pre-taped segments.

So this year, it’s Phillip Phillips singing, who is not an IMG or William Morris client, and George Stroumboulopoulos, who will take over CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, relegating Ron MacLean and Don Cherry to smaller roles as part of Roger’s production. I do admit I miss some of MacLean’s corny jokes at the NHL Awards when he hosted them in the past. They were better hockey jokes than anything the celebrity hosts could write.

As much as it’s about making a good show in Vegas, there is hardware to hand out. Here are more of the Bolts checking in from Vegas and the rest of Lightning Links.

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Will Andreychuk ever get the call to the Hall of Fame? (Lightning Links)

For being the offseason, the Lightning are sure generating a lot of pixels and print with free agents, surprise free agents, a new schedule, awards and the draft.

In the case of the Hockey Hall of Fame nominees expected to be announced Monday, it is the absence of such mentions that Lightning fans should be paying attention to.

Scott Radley, a columnist for The Hamilton Spectator newspaper in Ontario, wonders if Lightning vice president of fans Dave Andreychuk will ever get the call to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

This would be the sixth year he could miss out and Radley thinks that it should be Mike Modano’s time to wait:

He played 1,499 National Hockey League games. That’s impressive. It’s nearly as many as Andreychuk’s even more-impressive 1,639.

In those games, Modano scored 561 goals. Which are almost comparable to Andreychuk’s 640.

Modano collected 121 goals on the power play. Which is a fantastic career total. Until you put it beside Andreychuk’s record 274.

Modano had a 50-goal season. That makes him elite. That said, Andreychuk had a 53-goal season. Plus two seasons with more than 40 goals, something Modano never did.

Modano’s best year was a wonderful 93-point campaign, one of two 90-plus years he had. Andreychuk also had two seasons above 90. Though for the record, his best was 99.

Modano won a Stanley Cup, though Buffalo Sabres fans might still argue the validity of his Dallas Stars’ 1999 toe-in-the-crease win. Andreychuk won a Stanley Cup, as well. Interestingly, his came while he was serving as team captain and acknowledged inspirational leader of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

When Andreychuk was waived by the Lightning in 2006, he couldn’t bring himself to say he would retire. But at least he knew when it was his time as opposed to Modano overstaying his welcome.

LIGHTNING LINKS

 

Lightning schedule does few favors for peak snowbird season

IMG_1381A request to the NHL schedule makers should be simple for the Lightning: more road trips during October and more home dates after the Super Bowl.

When the Lightning schedule was released Sunday afternoon, the home and road dates are somewhat bipolar. After three games to start at home, it’s off to Western Canada for five games. The Bolts will have four of these five-game road trips, which isn’t preferable to be gone so long at a time when you’re looking to drive attendance at a steady hum, but it might be a trade-off to get 22 home dates from January to the end of the season, including a six-game home stand in March.

The Bolts know that they draw better at home when the snowbirds are here and when the Bucs aren’t playing or doing well. Last season the team lost out big time with being on the road in February and having the Olympic break carve up a good part of the month.

This year, a five-game western road swing takes the team out of sight from Feb. 13 to 22. Then they have five days off after that until they play at home. That’s essentially two full weeks of the Lightning being out of pocket for home fans, especially those who go to bed early.

The Forum is a busy arena for concerts and Ringling/Feld events like the circus, Disney on Ice and all, but they don’t have another tenant to worry about during the bulk of the hockey season. And that’s why I’m astounded at how bizarre of a schedule they get, even when they can’t truly load up on home dates until March.

The Florida Panthers’ schedule is slightly more snowbird friendly, though they need more help for attendance than Tampa. The Panthers have a five-game home stand in late January, then February is largely on the road  but from Feb. 26 to March 12 the Panthers play seven consecutive home games! They have another three games in a row at home later in March then end the season with all five of their April dates in Sunrise.

March is also favorable for the Lightning with six in a row at home and three in a row earlier that month.

John Walton of the Washington Capitals broadcast team spoke with the team’s assistant general manager Don Fishman about what it takes to make a schedule and the length of time it takes to form one. It’s  worth the watch for Scheduling 101.

In it, Fishman and Walton gush how the Caps were able to get plenty of short road trips of two to three games, some four, and eliminate a lot of one-off trips and have a geographically friendly schedule. They also have a lot of weekend dates, too, and only have to contend with the circus, Fishman said, because the arena didn’t get booked for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The Verizon Center is by far busier than the Forum, having the Caps, Washington Wizards and Georgetown Hoyas basketball all as tenants. That’s in addition to your standard concerts and WWE affairs.

The Caps have the advantage of geography being clustered closer to the rest of the Eastern Conference, and Ted Leonsis also owning the Wizards and Washington Mystics for that matter. And the major league dates are probably easier to plan for and black out than the concert tours being orchestrated.

I don’t know if the Caps had this issue this past season or not, but I remember that when the Hoyas season started up, there would be many times that the Hoyas would play an 11 a.m. or noon game then the arena staff transforms the floor from hardwood to an ice rink in a matter of hours in time for warmups. The ice is horrendous, slushy and chippy from the ice baking underneath, not to mention the large Metro station underneath pumping hot air to the surface. But the Caps still gets those Saturday evenings.

All of this could be moot, though. The Lightning are a playoff team again, they were attracting sell-out crowds, and hopefully has lit a spark for more fans to come out October through January.

Other schedule analysis:

 

Lightning looking elsewhere for back-up goalie: report

Anders Lindback

Anders Lindback takes a break during training camp. Photo by Charles Schelle

Props to Tampa Tribune Erik Erlendsson for making it clear what the Lightning are and aren’t doing with its back-up goalie situation: The team prefers to have someone other than Anders Lindback.

Erlendsson’s report makes it clear that the Lightning are going to market for a back-up goalie though Lindback could find his way back:

The Lightning will not be issuing a qualifying offer to goaltender Anders Lindback, allowing the 26-year-old to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

In order to retain Lindback’s rights as a restricted free agent, the Lightning would have had to issue an offer equal to the $2.2 million salary he played for last season.

Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times had a similar piece on Friday, and maybe he had the same information or perhaps something changed since he talked to general manager Steve Yzerman:

Yzerman said they’re still talking with goalie Anders Lindback as they’re looking for a backup goalie for Ben Bishop. “He’s still in the mix,” Yzerman said. “They understand what I’m trying to do at this point and he’s still a guy we’re considering signing for next year.”

Once Erlendsson’s report was out and tweeted, Smith later added the same information on Twitter.

It seemed to be heading this direction with Lindback earlier this month when Syracuse Crunch beat reporter Lindsay Kramer  of The Post-Standard covered what Crunch players won’t be tendered an offer and he tweeted that assistant GM Julien BriseBois said he’d have to ask Yzerman:

When they won’t tell you, then it’s not a yes.

Lindback could very well be back as both Tampa media reports say, but there is a wide availability of veteran back-ups in the UFA crop this summer. Teams like the Lightning and Washington Capitals are probably seeing this as their chance to lure Martin Brodeur to be their Hall of Fame back-up and push and teach promising young starters Ben Bishop and Braden Holtby. The Caps definitely have an opening after saying goodbye to Jaroslav Halak and Michal Neuvirth.

If you want a full rundown and analysis of every free agent goalie available this summer, head over to JapersRink, which also includes goalies who could be up for a trade having a year left on their deal.

For the Bolts, maybe Yzerman saw this as the end of a competition between Lindback and Bishop and declared a winner. It’s clear they’re seeking an upgrade after seeing what happened in the playoffs.

Coach Jon Cooper told Smith in Sunday’s Times that after re-watching the series against the Canadiens, the games weren’t even close:

“Our goaltending wasn’t good enough. Our defensemen weren’t good enough, and our forwards weren’t good enough,” Cooper said. “And ultimately, maybe our coaching wasn’t good enough.”

Lindback showed a remarkable improvement from where he played during most of the regular season and took his play to the next level during the final stretch of the season and into the start of the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Lightning needed him to play at the level he was showing in the playoffs beforehand and play another level above that if they were going to win. Part of that is on Lindback, though most of it was on the team for giving up some horrendous chances.

Going back to the Capitals, I’d be curious to see if coach Barry Trotz would be open to having Lindback on the Caps. He doesn’t fit the profile of what the Caps are looking for—a veteran back-up (read: older)—but sometimes familiarity is best. Lindback has improved since Trotz and goalie coach Mitch Korn last had him, mainly from added playing time. However, the same argument could be made for the Caps bringing back Tomas Vokoun for reunion with Trotz.

What’s clear is that the goaltending situation in Tampa is in what I call a Phase III of a rebuild. Phase I was draft prospects while replacing veteran goaltenders with unproven ones, Phase II was to have competition between your new goaltenders to find a winner and Phase III is dispose of the weaker asset and acquire a veteran back-up. The young, up-and-coming goalie tandem rarely works and teams figure out that at some point, you need a veteran presence.

It’s unfortunate that Yzerman couldn’t flip Lindback’s rights to another team for at least a draft pick, but Lindback’s value isn’t even that high. Honestly, I rather have this problem instead of having two very good young goaltenders and trading the wrong one.

Lightning alumnus Gallant now Panthers coach (Bygone Bolts)

Tampa Bay Lightning alumnus Gerard Gallant is now the head coach of the Florida Panthers.

The kitties made the announcement, perhaps with a meow instead of a roar, on Saturday afternoon, as they passed over Dan Bylsma. Bylsma, according to some in the Canadian hockey media, might have priced himself out of a deal.

Here’s the Panthers clawing their way through a press release:

“We are pleased to welcome Gerard as the new head coach of the Florida Panthers,” said Tallon. “He is an individual with tremendous character, integrity and a strong passion for the game and has experience as an NHL head coach. Gerard is an excellent teacher and motivator who possesses the leadership qualities and hockey knowledge that are necessary to lead our team.”

Gallant, 50, who at one time was the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, spent the last two years (2012-2014) serving as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens, helping the team advance to the postseason each year, including the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals.  During his two years as an assistant coach, Montreal posted a 75-42-13 mark, including their first 100-point season since 2007-2008.

As for Gallant’s time in Tampa Bay, he played his final 52 games in the NHL with the Bolts, all but one in the 1993-94 season. He got through one game the next season and that was it. He spent most of his playing career with the Detroit Red Wings, posting four 30-goal seasons, with one 39 goal season.

With Terry Crisp at the helm in 93-94, the team went 30-43-11. Gallant, a left wing who sported No. 17, played with guys like Brent Gretzky, Brian Bradley, John Tucker, Roman Hamrlik and Daren Puppa. He put up 13 points and 74 PIM in those games.

It’s a shame him and Lightning alumnus Marc Bergevin helped the Canadiens sweep the Bolts this year.

Gallant will see his old buddies the Lightning during Tampa’s home opener on Thursday, Oct. 9, which was also announced Sunday by the NHL. The Panthers home opener is Oct. 11 against New Jersey.

Although Bylsma was the popular choice, this is probably best for the Panthers franchise because Gallant has paid his dues when given a mediocre roster in Columbus that at least allowed Rick Nash to put up big numbers. The Panthers hope to avoid another season of a star player lead the league in goals and tank in the standings. After Columbus, Gallant spent time with another franchise with a weird ownership and management situation, the New York Islanders, as an assistant before working on his craft in the QMJHL where he won two championships with Jonathan Huberdeau before Michel Therrien came calling in Montreal.

Bylsma’s only train wreck he had to experience was the 2005-06 New York Islanders as an assistant. After developing young players with the Baby Pens, he had a pretty good situation taking over a roster of riches with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and company from Michel Therrien.

Still, he showed promise and maybe Panthers GM Dale Tallon did always want him but money might have got in the way. It would be somewhat unfair and a shame with it. Somehow players who were bought out of massive contracts seem to load up with a nice contract with another team and rarely get signed for a bargain contract.

Coaches who are being paid from a prior contract and hired elsewhere? This is the first time I’ve heard of a situation like this reported where allegedly a coaching candidate wanted what probably would be fair NHL market value, but ownership balked because you’re already dipping from another nice salary. It would be fascinating to hear if any of these situations in hockey came up before or even recently.

As CBC/Rogers reporter Elliotte Friedman said on NHL Live this week, it’s been a bizarre coaching search this summer. For one, having so many names available and others let go plus Ron Wilson coming out of hiding. (As an aside, I’m surprised anyone considered talking to Marc Crawford with him expected to be involved in the Todd Bertuzzi trial this September.  Champions Hockey League in Europe tweeted Crawford will stay in Switzerland this season.)

Again, if true, it also shows that owner Vinnie Viola might not be as willing to 100 percent commit financially to have a winning team if he wants coaching on the cheap. Hopefully he’s funding the scouting department properly. But while the owner said he wants a winner in South Florida and is giving the green light for Tallon to spend, Viola is asking for $80 million in tax dollars to help him out. This franchise might have a revolving door of owners until its lease is up in 2028 and can find a smaller home elsewhere in South Florida…or in North America.

Richards retreads and Bolts pre-season schedule out (Lightning Links)

Lightning fans are letting nostalgia creep in again when Brad Richards was bought out from the New York Rangers, making him and Dan Boyle both available.

Their agents helped fan the passionate flames when they both told Tampa Bay Times reporter Joe Smith that both Boyle and Richards would be open to returning to Tampa:

 

Let’s step back for a second. They’re both jobless and looking for work. They’re not going to say they would not have interest. Smith noted in another tweet that he questions if Richards would be a fit, despite a need for more veteran leadership.

The Lightning have a lot of reasons for Richards and Boyle to be excited about playing in Tampa again like working with Stamkos, Hedman, Bishop, Palat and for Richards, a reunion with former Rangers teammate Ryan Callahan. (Though I’m sure a functional ownership, front office and coach sure helps.) But, we’re pretty good at center.

Boyle, though, would have to be happy with playing reduced minutes. After paying a good chunk for Eric Brewer, Cooper has found the key for the veteran’s effectiveness is to limit his minutes. Boyle’s at the stage of his career where he can’t stay out there all night without letting five goals pop in.

I’ve written here before that in all likelihood, the nostalgia he would rather relive is probably joining his Dallas Stars buddies in Glendale, Ariz., with the Arizona Coyotes. Dave Tippett is there, so is Mike Ribeiro and Mike Smith, who was sent with Richards to Dallas. Maybe him and Shane Doan can make things work, too.

Boyle? I don’t know. Maybe Marty St. Louis will complain that his buddy is gone and he needs another Bolt retread like Dan Boyle or maybe beg that they acquire Vinny Lecavalier. He ought to instead concentrate on feeding Rick Nash the puck.

LIGHTNING LINKS

  • Pre-season schedule! No trips to Orlando or Estero—three home dates at the Forum. Regular season schedule to be out Monday. Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Of note in the regular season schedule that leaked, the Capitals will host the Chicago Blackhawks for the Winter Classic. Likely at Nats Park, and I will definitely be there.  Alex Prewitt | Washington Post
  • Yzerman working on resigning Callahan and Lindback. Joe Smith | Tampa Bay Times
  • So, the Syracuse Crunch was originally a cereal? Onondaga Historical Association | The Post-Standard
  • Also, haven’t found a link that directly covered this issue, but tweets from several in the media seem to think that the Florida Panthers coaching search is taking so long because they couldn’t afford Dan Bylsma, who is being paid by the Penguins for the remainder of his contract. Perhaps negotiating is still ongoing or they’ll just say the hell with it and Gerard Gallant, a Montreal assistant, will coach Jonathan Huberdeau … as a pro. The financial situation in Sunrise is well, cloudy, as the new owners seem to

 

Alex Killorn cashes in (Lightning Links)


Steve Yzerman is neatly sweeping through his restricted free agents this summer locking them up to new deals.

Alex Killorn will make $2.4 million next year and $2.7 million the next year, according to the Tampa Bay Times. This is what we call a bridge deal. It creates a buffer between Killorn’s entry level deal and hopefully gets him to a point where he can make or break, ideally for Killorn to cash in on a long-term deal.

Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat both inked three-year deals this spring, and it makes sense given they get the extra year and cash given their performance. Still gives the club time for them to over perform on an affordable contract before they could be knocking on the door for a lot of cash.

That leaves Andrej Sustr, JT Brown, Richard Panik, Keith Aulie, Mike Barberio, Anders Lindback and Crunch’s Brett Connolly to be taken care of for RFAs. Not even going to get into the UFA talks yet (cough, cough, Ryan Callahan).

You do wonder if the players can work magic for Yzerman and all perform at a championship level on mainly entry-level deals and bridge deals. Can only keep the band together so long in a cap world.

Hopefully we’ll see more killer out of Killorn this season. He put up 41 point in 82 games, but you feel like he has a higher ceiling than 17 goals, and certainly above a 20-goal plateau.

Lightning Links

Junior Jolts