Tampa Bay Lightning at the deadline

Steve Yzerman and Guy Boucher have turned this rebuilding team into one that’s ready to win now and Yzerman’s been making the moves so they can do so. While the acquisitions of Simon Gagne and Dan Ellis this summer didn’t exactly go as planned, there are many other things that went right for this Lightning team. They are in first place in the Southeast, have the league leader in goals and they already made a few trades this season to address needs. The question is where do they go from here?

In terms of what the Bolts could do at the deadline, you first have to look at their roster and how much cap space they have to play with, which is about at $9 mil. They are a team that’s done just about everything well this year except for goaltending, which was worst in the league at one point. Yzerman fixed this by trading for Dwayne Roloson, who has played well with a .924 save percentage at even strength. He also boosted the team’s defensive depth by acquiring Eric Brewer for the Blues in exchange for Beau Beukeboom and a 3rd rounder. I thought this was a good deal for Tampa Bay since Brewer had solid corsi numbers and a positive rating in St. Louis while taking a lot of defensive draws and playing against somewhat tough competition. The Lightning had the cap space to absorb his contract so it was a good move to make at the time. The fact that they traded Dan Ellis for Curtis McElhinney makes me think that another move is on the way since that was basically a salary dump, same thing with waiving Mike Smith.

The Big Picture
Top 3 Forwards: Lecavalier, St. Louis, Malone $17,852,273
Middle 6 Forwards: Downie, Moore, Tyrell, ???, ???, ??? $3,795,833
Top 4 Defensemen: Kubina, Ohlund, Hedman, Clark $12,457,143
Goaltending: ???, ???
Bottom 8 Players: Thompson $900,000

UFA: Roloson, Smith, McElhinney, Brewer, Hall, Bergenheim, Gagne
RFA: Stamkos, Purcell, Lundin, Smaby

First off, I don’t think there is any chance that Steven Stamkos won’t be re-signed. They will work out a contract before the season is over. The Lightning do have a lot of money invested in Malone, Lecavalier and St. Louis but they do have a good amount of contracts coming off the books next year and still have cap space to play with so I don’t think they need to worry about money now. I’m not sure if Simon Gagne will be re-signed seeing how he’s been hurt for a good chunk of the year and underwhelming when healthy. They might offer Roloson a one-year deal to not rush Cedrick Desjardins/Dustin Tokarski or find someone else to address their goaltending situation. Teddy Purcell’s been playing well with good linemates so he might stick around, as well. The rest of the holes in their bottom-8 will probably be filled with AHL call-ups or free agents. Carter Ashton might have a chance to make the team out of camp next season so that’s one solution.

Depth Chart:
St. Louis-Stamkos-Downie
Gagne-Lecavalier-Purcell
Bergenheim-Moore-Hall
Bergeron-Thompson-Tyrell

Hedman-Clark
Kubina-Smaby
Jones-Brewer
Lundin (inj.) Ohlund (inj.)

Roloson
McElhinney
Smith (AHL)

Very lethal top-six and solid depth with the next three forwards but the fact that they have Marc-Andre Bergeron playing as a forward could be a problem. I could see Stevie Y making a couple other small moves at the deadline for a depth forward or two but nothing huge. Like I said, I think he traded Dan Ellis to clear some cap space so that might be foreshadowing another trade. Mattias Ohlund’s injury apparently isn’t anything serious so they won’t have to worry about replacing him for now. I think that’s why they acquired Brewer in the first place though since he makes their defensive depth look a lot better. This Tampa team will be dangerous in the playoffs with the potential they have but you have to wonder if Yzerman thinks he can make a good roster even better.

 

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