Some quick remarks about the Lightning’s summer
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 summer?”
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 and large).
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.