I haven’t said much this summer about the Tampa Bay
Lightning, now have I? The summer hadn’t really driven me to remark besides
being confused by Julien BriseBois push to sign Joe Pavelski at the opening of
the 2019 NHL Free Agent season. It was defense where the Lightning were in need
– not because of a lack of talent but because of aging and free agent loses. Dan
Girardi? Gone (okay, he’s unsigned but likely won’t be back). Anton Stralman? History
(and, ahem, a
threat to NHL owners). Brayden Coburn was re-signed, Luke Schenn was inked
(and met with a negative fan reaction). While other minor D were re-upped and
other roster moves made in July, it felt like the Bolts hadn’t done anything.
But when the New York Rangers bought-out
Kevin Shattenkirk (a little late in free agency, which made it seem odd) I had
the thought, “Oh, gee, wouldn’t that be a fitting signing after a meh
A one-year, $1.75 million contract for a defenseman who has
been a hot commodity in the NHL on the market (via trade or free agency) the
past few seasons. While the man is known for contributing offensively (by way
of assists) he also has split his career in the plus/minus field. I mean that literally
– six of 11 NHL seasons have been a positive plus-minus for Kevin. If you
average out the numbers, he’s a career minus-4.4, yet that’s just evidence that
his seaons of a negative plus/minus have been more consistently large (-11
twice, -14 twice, -15) than his seasons
of a highly positive plus- (+20, +19, everything else is single-digits). Then
again, plus/minus is too often a sign of a team’s general performance and not
just how a defenseman is playing.
If you haven’t qupped about the Bolts being associated with
the New York Rangers (or being the Rangers), do so now. I’ll wait.
Finished? Oh, good, I’ll get back to the news on Shattenkirk.
I don’t know if he’ll necessarily be paired on the top defensive pairing with
Victor Hedman. Why not share potency on the blue-line by having Hedman on the
top pairing and Shattenkirk on the second. Of course it depend son how well Jon
Cooper manages ice-time for the defense, or the move wouldn’t be so wise. We’ll
see how it goes in about a month…
It’s a notable addition… It slows dependence on
system-produced talent on the blue-line (well, at least until the trade
deadline if the system produces, or the season’s outcome goes negative and
makes Shattenkirk expendable).
Of course, there are two other major moves of note by the
Bolts in that Ryan Callahan has
gone bye-bye and Andrei Vasilevskiy has been solidified with Tampa Bay
(which will not only lead to him becoming the franchise’s all-time winningest
goaltender, which will happen this season, but the longest tenured goalie by
Cally’s departure is disappointing for fans, but his injury
status leads the transaction to be a cap move for both the Ottawa Senators and
Tampa Bay Lightning. While Ryan is gone from the roster, he ain’t so much from
Tampa, or so he’s told The Athletic’s Joe Smith:
…and then there’s the non-signing. The albatross of the 2019
free agent season for the Lihhtning. A signing of interest and concern that
hasn’t happened (and what may turn into a kick-the-can-down-the-street move a-la
Nikita Kucherov’s 2016 two-year signing that delayed his long-term extension of
2018). Braydon Point is still a restricted free agent. He’s also a player that
the Montreal Canadiens had considered
signing to an offer-sheet before going with Sebastian Aho instead. That was
a month-and-a-half ago and in these doldrums of the summer season, it wouldn’t
be surprising if a team (be it Montreal or elsewhere in the league) did make an
offer-sheet deal with Point.
CBS Sports linked
the Callahan trade specifically to Brayden Point’s contract.
The last transaction of note was yesterday when Steve Yzerman,
now General Manager of the Detroit Red Wings, obtained a cog from the Tampacuse
system in Adam Erne. Erne, a 2013 second-round draft pick, played 65 games with
the Bolts last season. He had been a mainstay with the Syracuse Crunch while spending lower-line
time with the Lightning. I’m not surprised at all for Yzerman to acquire talent
from the Tampa Bay system (and neither should Lightning nor Red Wings fans).
How well Erne fits in Detroit, or how he helps enable he Yzerplan for
the Wings, remains to be seen.