Lightning Free Agency: Taming of the shrewd

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General managers will tell you at times the best deal you can make is the one you didn’t make.

So far, Steve Yzerman resisted temptation of Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen, who both signed massive deals in Washington to be reunited with Penguins defensive coach Todd Reirden. Who knows if they were truly in the race for Jarome Iginla, too.

What the day turned out to be was filled with key signings that didn’t hit the wallet too bad:

  • Islander goalie Evgeni Nabokov fills back-up role in one-year deal for $1.55 million, according to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times
  • Ranger defenseman Anton Stralman completes top-four D pairing for five years, $22.5 million, averaging $4.5 million a year
  • Ranger forward Brian Boyle signs for three years, $6 million
  • Minor leaguer Mike Blunden from Montreal getting a $600,000 deal  to float between Syracuse and Tampa

The Lightning still have about $5.7 million in cap space, but Yzerman will probably want to save some knowing that he has an extension to sign Bishop as he heads into his final contract year plus Stamkos the year after that.

What’s funny is that both Rangers and Lightning fans should be happy with their Boyle signings. Brian Boyle and Dan Boyle both wore 22. Tampa fans can dust off their Dan Boyle sweaters from 2008 for Brian Boyle, while Rangers fans can keep their blue 22 for Dan.

One of the moves Yzerman didn’t make was signing Martin Brodeur. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported that Tampa was one of the teams that Brodeur spoke to:

I’d imagine that Brodeur probably demand much more money than Nabokov and wanted more playing time or some sort of a more solid guarantee.

This partially makes up for Thompson, Crombeen and Purcell jerseys being made obsolete in a few hours span Sunday night, in addition to Malone’s being unwanted.

Fantasy Slotting

Right now, the Lightning forwards looks like this at first glance:

Ondrej Palat-Steven Stamkos-Tyler Johnson

Nikita Kucherov-Valterri Filppula-Ryan Callahan

Richard Panik-Jonathan Drouin-Alex Killorn

J.T. Brown-Brian Boyle-Tom Pyatt

Extra: Cedric Paquette

Brian Boyle will earn most of his money and ice time on the penalty kill and will be elevated to the third line at times, and Ryan Callahan might drop at times to pair with Boyle. After that, I don’t know if this year’s lines will look anything like last year other than Stamkos on the top line.

We’ve seen him play wing for Tyler Johnson and vice versa after his return from injury.

Drouin’s placement will be the cog that can really change everything on this roster in terms of where players slot. If they’re going to put Drouin on wing, he’s probably not going to be with the pass-first Filppula and might have to be elevated to dish to Steven Stamkos. And you don’t want to drop Filppula to the third line where he was in Detroit, being underplayed in a deep roster.

On defense:




Eric Brewer is an UFA next summer, making him a trade candidate early, but his playing has improved under Cooper with his minutes being better managed. A veteran defenseman like Brewer, despite his shortcomings, is still hard to get. Matt Carle is signed here on a long-term deal at $5.5 million deal for another four seasons. That’s not good at all for a third pairing defenseman. As we’ve seen before, if Yzerman is going to move this contract, he will even if it means getting a late-round draft pick.

In goal:



Again, after this season, the Lightning will not have an NHL goalie under contract. Time for Bishop to play big for the money because the Syracuse goalies are hankering for a chance.

What will happen like each season though, is that the paper victories from today rarely translate onto the ice. Let’s see how many of these deals fall apart by Thanksgiving.

One thought on “Lightning Free Agency: Taming of the shrewd

  1. Pingback: Bygone Bolts: Where former Lightning players signed in free agency | hockeynutsandbolts

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