Category Archives: TB Lightning

Predicting Protected Lists: Tampa Bay Lightning 

The Tampa Bay Lightning will have to make a fairly large decision up front before the expansion draft, however Steve Yzerman’s situation is not as dire as it is made out to be. 

According to a report, Ryan Callahan is not expected to be asked to waive his no-movement clause. That makes him an obvious shoe-in to be protected. 

Other guarantees to be protected at forward are Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, and Tyler Johnson. 

There have been rumblings that Jonathan Drouin could be traded before the expansion draft. However, nothing has surfaced yet and he will be on Tampa Bay’s protection list as of now. 

That leaves one spot remaining and it could go to either Vlad Namestnikov or Alex Killorn. 

Namestnikov, 24, had 28 points in 74 games last season. He was a first round pick by Tampa Bay in 2011. 

As for Killorn, the 27-year-old had 36 points in 81 games last season. 

This choice is a coin flip to some people, however I believe that Alex Killorn will be the last protected forward for Tampa Bay. 

Regardless of who is protected, though, the other player immediately becomes a top candidate to go to Vegas for next season. 

On defense, Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman are guarantees to be protected. 

After that, Slater Koekkoek is next in line. Although he is not as experienced as other options, he holds the potential to become a solid, top-four defender in the league. He is actually closer to that role than some people may think. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s protection list could look like this:

Forwards: Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Killorn

Defense: Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, Slater Koekkoek

Goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy

The Lightnig’s list could change based solely on the fact that Drouin or Johnson could be moved in a trade. But as of now, this is where it stands. 

Next team: Toronto Maple Leafs

Kevin, @TheNHLFiles 

The fight for the final NHL playoff spot will come down to the last weekend 

Heading into the final weekend of the NHL season, fifteen out of the sixteen playoff teams have been determined. The last spot remaining is in the Eastern Conference and has come down to the Maple Leafs, Islanders, and Lightning. 

With a shootout win over Boston on Thursday night, the Ottawa Senators locked up their playoff hopes. On that same night, both the Islanders and Lightning won in regulation while the Maple Leafs lost in regulation. The young Toronto team now finds themselves in a precarious situation, however they do control their own destiny. 

All three teams currently sit with 80 games played. Toronto has 93 points, whereas Tampa Bay and New York each have 90. In terms of ROW (regulation plus overtime wins), the denoted first tie breaker in the NHL, Toronto has 38, the Islanders have 37, and Tampa Bay has 36. 

For scheduling, Toronto has definitely been dealt the worst hand on the surface. They play Columbus and Pittsburgh over the final three days of the season. However, both of those teams have already punched their ticket to the playoffs and already have their seeding (second and third place in the Metropolitan Division respectively) locked down. The Penguins and Blue Jackets technically have nothing to play for heading into the final weekend, so it is possible that they will rest their star players and starting goalies. But, the argument could be made that the Penguins and Blue Jackets want to win in order to pass the Blackhawks in points, in the case that one of those teams meets up with Chicago in the Stanley Cup Final. 

The Islanders and Lightning each play a team in the playoffs and a team outside of the playoffs in their final two games. For the Islanders it is going to be New Jersey and Ottawa, and for Tampa Bay it is going to be Montreal and Buffalo. 

In order for Toronto to fall out of a playoff position, they have to lose their final two games in regulation and either the Islanders or Tampa Bay need to win their final two games. If Toronto loses one game in overtime or a shootout and loses the other in regulation, only the Islanders can overtake them if they win both of their games in regulation. Two overtime or shootout losses by Toronto would put them into the playoffs. 

There are still a lot of moving parts and a lot can change over the course of the next 72 hours. Tampa Bay plays tomorrow, Friday night, in Montreal. A loss of any kind and they will be eliminated from playoff contention. 

Although there is not as much as usual, the end of the NHL season will have some drama to keep an eye on. Toronto has their fate in their own hands, but New York and Tampa Bay remain knocking at the door. 

Keep up with our Twitter for updates on the playoff race. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles 

Three winners and three losers from the 2017 NHL trade deadline 

The 2017 NHL trade deadline has come and gone. Quite frankly, it was pretty boring this year. No big or surprising names were moved. However, there was certainly enough action to determine winners or losers of the past few days.

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Trade Possibility: Tyler Johnson 

Despite Steven Stamkos’ long-term injury at the start of the season, few picked the Tampa Bay Lightning to miss the playoffs. They’ve gone through this before without their captain multiple times — when he broke his leg and when he suffered from blood clots.

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Recap: Hall/Larsson and Subban/Weber trades, plus Stamkos’ signing 

Yes — we are just as confused as you are. 

In thirty minutes, the course of the next NHL season changed dramatically. In what was likely the biggest flurry of trades in NHL history, PK Subban, Taylor Hall, Shea Weber, and Adam Larsson were all dealt. Not to mention Steven Stamkos re-signed in Tampa Bay. 

So let’s start at the first trade of the day. New Jersey acquired Taylor Hall from Edmonton in exchange for Adam Larsson. This was a desperate move met by a lot of scrutiny, mostly rightful, by Peter Chiarelli. With trading chips such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle, a deal involving Taylor Hall shouldn’t have been necessary. Adam Larsson is a solid young defender, but nowhere near the caliber of defenseman that should have been brought in for Taylor Hall. 

Regardless, this likely makes Edmonton the firm landing spot for Milan Lucic. That’s not to say Lucic is a formidable replacement for Taylor Hall, but it is what is going to happen.  

As for New Jersey, they get a bonafide first line winger. They’ve been devoid of scoring for a few years now and this is a tremendous pickup. 

Just a few minutes later, rumblings from Nick Kypreos came out that PK Subban could be on the move. That happened a few minutes later when he was traded to Nashville in exchange for Shea Weber. 

This is a mind boggling deal. Subban is a better player than Weber, who has significantly declined over the past few years. Weber will also be turning 31 at the start of the season and still has ten years left on his deal. It’s hard to find a rationale from Bergevin’s side when looking at this trade. 

From Nashville’s side, it is a fantastic trade. They get a younger, dynamic defenseman in Subban who can anchor their top-four for years to come. Ryan Ellis, PK Subban, Matthias Ekholm, and Roman Josi is a scary defensive corps. 

Moving on from trades, the Lighting also announced that they had re-signed big fish free agent Steven Stamkos to a eight year, 8.5 million per deal. This is a lower AAV than what other teams may have given him, but with no state income tax in Florida, he’ll earn a lot more than he would elsewhere. 

This changes Friday’s gameplan drastically. Almost every team was going to take a shot at Stamkos, so now they all have to revert to Plan B. David Backes and Frans Nielsen just moved up the leaderboard big time. 

Stay tuned for more NHL news, because I’m sure we’ll get some. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Looming expansion draft could force Bishop, Fleury trades

With the expansion draft slated to take place next offseason, a lot of general managers are fiddling with their rosters to assure they won’t lose anyone of value, particularly in goal. Each team is only allowed to protect one goalie, and although only three goalies will be selected at max, you certainly do not want to find yourself on the short end of the stick.  Read the rest of this entry

Drouin, Backes proving worth  

There was a certain level of uncertainty in regards to Jonathan Drouin and David Backes this summer, but it seems to be dispelling more and more as the days go by. Both players are on teams in the conference finals and both are playing fantastic. Drouin is second on Tampa Bay in assists and Backes is second on St. Louis in goals.  Read the rest of this entry

Montreal, Anaheim, and St. Louis emerge as frontrunners for Jonathan Drouin

The Jonathan Drouin saga has been going on for a couple of weeks now and frontrunner have emerged. From the west, the Ducks and Blues have the most interest. In the east, Montreal will be making a big push for him. That does not rule out another team like Buffalo or Nashville, but these three teams have expressed serious interest thus far. 

Anaheim Ducks 

The Ducks seem to be in the best position regarding Drouin at this point. They have a lot of depth on defense and they desperately need goal scoring. Sami Vatanen has been a name that has gotten thrown out there. Nick Ritchie as well. The Ducks are extremely reluctant to move Shea Theodore but it all depends on how desperate they are for Drouin and potential goal scoring. 

St. Louis Blues 

Robby Fabbri’s name has been thrown into discussions, which would be a nice piece for Tampa Bay to add if they are giving up Drouin. A one-for-one with Kevin Shattenkirk is highly unlikely, although he still could be involved. A trade between the Blues and Lightning would include a lot of moving pieces giving the availability of Blues players and their position in the standings right now. We all saw how long the trade with Bartley, Elliott, and Tinordi took to orchestrate, so don’t hold your breathe. 

Montreal Canadiens 

The Canadiens don’t have the depth on the blueline that Anaheim, per say, has, but they still have the pieces to make it work. Nathan Beaulieu is a name that can be thrown in. Due to the lack of high-quality defensemen they can move, a mid-to-high quality forward plus a pick and/or prospect(s) would be included. Montreal would have to overpay if they want Drouin due to being in the same division as Tampa Bay. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Montreal, Anaheim, and St. Louis emerge as frontrunners for Jonathan Drouin

The Jonathan Drouin saga has been going on for a couple of weeks now and frontrunner have emerged. From the west, the Ducks and Blues have the most interest. In the east, Montreal will be making a big push for him. That does not rule out another team like Buffalo or Nashville, but these three teams have expressed serious interest thus far. 

Anaheim Ducks 

The Ducks seem to be in the best position regarding Drouin at this point. They have a lot of depth on defense and they desperately need goal scoring. Sami Vatanen has been a name that has gotten thrown out there. Nick Ritchie as well. The Ducks are extremely reluctant to move Shea Theodore but it all depends on how desperate they are for Drouin and potential goal scoring. 

St. Louis Blues 

Robby Fabbri’s name has been thrown into discussions, which would be a nice piece for Tampa Bay to add if they are giving up Drouin. A one-for-one with Kevin Shattenkirk is highly unlikely, although he still could be involved. A trade between the Blues and Lightning would include a lot of moving pieces giving the availability of Blues players and their position in the standings right now. We all saw how long the trade with Bartley, Elliott, and Tinordi took to orchestrate, so don’t hold your breathe. 

Montreal Canadiens 

The Canadiens don’t have the depth on the blueline that Anaheim, per say, has, but they still have the pieces to make it work. Nathan Beaulieu is a name that can be thrown in. Due to the lack of high-quality defensemen they can move, a mid-to-high quality forward plus a pick and/or prospect(s) would be included. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Steve Yzerman has major decisions to make over the next two years

The first half of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s year has gone less than ideally. They currently hold the tenth spot in the Eastern Conference and are four points out of a wildcard spot with two less games played than Boston and the same number of games played as New Jersey and Detroit. It’s not a dire situation standings-wise yet, but it is not the situation the team expected to be in after making it to the Stanley Cup Finals last year. On top of that, general manager Steve Yzerman has a boatload of player personnel issues to deal with moving forward. 

This past Sunday, it came to the forefront that Jonathan Drouin asked for a trade last November, as said by his agent Allan Walsh in a statement. Drouin was the third overall pick in 2013 behind Nathan MacKinnon and Aleksander Barkov, but unlike those two players he hasn’t found consistent success in the NHL. He has shown flashes of brilliance, especially in the 2015-2016 preseason, but Jon Cooper, Steve Yzerman, and company can’t seem to find a place for him on the team. Whether or not Drouin is dealt soon, it just adds to the stress Yzerman is dealing with regarding his club. 

The Stamkos saga has been going on for months now. Little to no progress has been made on contract negotiations and the trade deadline looms around the corner. If Tampa Bay is out of a playoff spot, the team has to make the onerous decision of whether or not to trade him now and gain some assets back, or risk losing him in free agency in a few months and forever holding their peace. 

Outside of these two public stories, behind the scenes in Tampa there is possibly a bigger problem coming up. Nikita Kucherov needs a contract this year. The summer of 2017 is the big one. Ben Bishop, Victor Hedman, Ondrej Palat, and Tyler Johnson all need contracts. That’s a lot of money you need to be ready to dish out. In a salary cap world, it’s hard to keep a legitimate contending team without constantly refreshing pieces (see Chicago, for example). You are at the risk of losing one or two of these players if you sign Steven Stamkos to a long term, possibly ten million or more per year, deal. They could take an estimated risk and hope Andrei Vasilevskiy will be ready and give up Ben Bishop, but that is a huge risk. 

Steve Yzerman and Tampa Bay will have a lot on their plate in the upcoming months that will decide the fate of the franchise and their course of action over the next two years. Deciding if they will try to keep Steven Stamkos on a massive deal or not will have ginormous implications on the team’s salary cap situation moving forward, as will if they decide to trade him for more incoming pieces. Dealing Stamkos’ possible future replacement in Drouin won’t come easy either, and if a deal is struck it will likely be at the draft, unless Tampa Bay gets into a playoff spot and wants to try to trade Drouin for a piece that will help them now for one last run with Stamkos. Add all of this to the multitude re-signings and you have two years of hell upcoming. 

There are a lot of questions to be answered and not a lot of time in Tampa Bay. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Trade Winds: Defensive Addition 

It’s hard to find a solid, NHL defenseman on the trade market before the deadline, let alone this early in the year. However, some options are there. Teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Carolina Hurricanes are looking for help on the blueline amongst others. None of the names available are flashy, but they can get the job done for any team desperate for help. 

The “biggest” name on the market as of today is Dennis Wideman. The 32 year old can still put up points with 56 last season and 6 assists in 12 games this season, but his contract is scaring other teams off. His teammate Kris Russell has also been linked to trade talks. Russell lead the league in blocked shots last year and is on good pace to do so this year again. Whether that’s indicative to Calgary’s play or Russell’s individual play, nobody will know unless a trade happens. 

Bob McKenzie also reported the other day that the services of Luke Schenn, Roman Polak, and Matt Carle are available for the right price. Schenn and Polak could be moved later in the year, but Carle is an interesting name. He’s been brutal this year for the Lightning but they are still a win-now team so the price could fluctuate for a guy like him. It’ll be interesting to see how his storyline progresses over the year. Carle has two season left on his contract after this year at 5.5 million per, which will significantly decrease his value if he doesn’t pick up his game. 

The Jets also have an abundance of defensemen. Dustin Byfuglien won’t be traded until later this year, but players such as Paul Potsma and Grant Clitsome (although he is currently hurt) may be in play. Clitsome is entering into the final year of his deal and Potsma has one year remaining after this season at a reasonable price. Neither player has seen any in game action this year which could scare some teams off. If it comes down to it, the risk would be worth taking because they don’t have the contractual issues some other options do. 

As the season progresses, we’ll get a clearer look at the standings to see who needs help and who doesn’t. Although it might not be for a defenseman, also keep an eye out for Anaheim and Ottawa to be exploring on the trade market soon. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Adam Larsson Could Mimick Victor Hedman’s Success

When Adam Larsson was drafted fourth overall in 2011, there was a lot of hype surrounding him, and rightfully so. It was the second time in three years that a Swedish defenseman went in the top-five, with Victor Hedman preceding him in 2009. Larsson, however, hasn’t translated all of his success into the NHL, but that could change very soon.  Read the rest of this entry