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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 

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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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

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