Embed from Getty ImagesA 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:
- Ryan Malone bought out
- Jason Garrison and rights to prospect Jeff Costello and seventh-round pick next year acquired for a second-round pick this year
- Teddy Purcell shipped out to Edmonton for Sam Gagner straight-up
- Then Gagner flipped to Arizona by retaining one-third of salary, packaged with B.J Crombeen in exchange for a sixth-round pick
- Nate Thompson and his $1.6 million contract sent to the Anaheim Ducks for a 2015 fourth-round and seventh-round pick.
- Letting Anders Lindback become an UFA to get another back-up goalie
- Not really covered, but by way of available spots, Sami Salo will likely not return
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.