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Lightning signs Andrej Sustr to two year deal

Andrej Sustr, 24, a restricted free agent, was a mainstay on the Lightning blueline last season, racking up 13 assists in 72 games.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Andrej Sustr, 24, a restricted free agent, was a mainstay on the Lightning blueline last season, racking up 13 assists in 72 games.

The Lightning has signed defenseman Andrej Sustr to a two-year, $2.9 million deal.

It comes as little surprise as Sustr, 24, a restricted free agent, was a mainstay on the Lightning blueline last season, racking up 13 assists in 72 games. Sustr was in the third pairing, for the most part, with veteran Matt Carle.

A 6-foot-7, 220-pound defenseman, Sustr still has some room to improve, coming off just his second NHL season.

Tampa Bay is expected to come to deals with its other restricted free agents, including center Vladislav Namestnikov and defenseman Luke Witkowski.

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Andreychuk not in 2015 Hall of Fame class

Dave Andreychuk did not make the 2015 Hall of Fame class, which was announced Monday afternoon.

DIRK SHADD | Times (2003)

Dave Andreychuk did not make the 2015 Hall of Fame class, which was announced Monday afternoon.

For former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk, the wait continues. 

Andreychuk did not make the 2015 Hall of Fame class, which was announced Monday afternoon. 

The five-player class included four male players, with Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov, Chris Pronger and Phil Housley. Women's star Angela Ruggiero also made it, with Peter Karmanos in as a builder. 

While Lidstrom, Fedorov and Pronger appeared to be locks, you could make an argument Andreychuk should have made it in over Housley. Andreychuk has 640 career goals, 14th all time, the only 600-goal scorer in league history not in the Hall of Fame. Andreychuk also has NHL record for power play goals. Andreychuk captained the Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2004, remaking his game late in his 23-year career. 

Andreychuk should get in at some point, and next year isn't a strong group of first year eligibles. It's just a matter of time.  

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Barberio not issued qualifying offer by Lightning

Defenseman Mark Barberio was not given a qualifying offer and will become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Defenseman Mark Barberio was not given a qualifying offer and will become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday.

In some ways, Lightning defenseman Mark Barberio saw the writing on the wall.

Barberio, 25, essentially the team's seventh defenseman the past two seasons, played in just one game during the two-month Stanley Cup playoff run, with rookie Nikita Nesterov emerging. So when Barberio, 24, was not given a qualifying offer Monday, "it wasn't a complete shock."

Barberio, the Lightning's sixth round pick in 2008, will be an unrestricted free agent Wednesday.

"It's still tough," Barberio said in a phone interview. "Especially when it's your first team, it's all you know. You fall in love with the team. But another team can give you a shot. It's not always a bad thing, change can be good."

The Lightning announced Monday the five restricted free agents it has given qualifying offers to by today's deadline, including defensemen Andrej Sustr and Luke Witkowski, along with center Vladislav Namestnikov and prospects Carter Ashton and Philippe Paradis. Forward Mike Blunden was signed to a one-year, two-way deal. …

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Lightning make qualifying offers to three, sign Marchessault

The Lightning continues to chip away at its offseason checklist, making qualifying offers to defensemen Andrej Sustr and Luke Witkowski, along with center Vladislav Namestnikov.

Tampa Bay also signed forward Jonathan Marchessault to a one-year, two-way deal and forward Brian Hart to a three-year, two-way entry level contract.

In making a qualifying offers to Sustr, 24, Witkowski and Namestnikov, team retains their rights, with both sides planning to continue to talk. Tampa Bay has until Monday's deadline to extend offers to its other RFAs, including defenseman Mark Barberio, who could end up the odd man out.

Signing Marchessault, 24, another restricted fre agent, was an easy call, having led the AHL Syracuse Crunch in scoring, earning two appearances during the Lightning's playoff run. While Marchessault is on a two-way deal, he's still waiver eligible, so he'll be a player to watch during training camp. If Marchessault doesn't make the roster, he could be lost to another team (like Richard Panik did last year).

Hart, 21, a second-round pick in 2012, had 18 goals and 50 points in three seasons at Harvard. He'll bring some size (6-2) to the Crunch forward group next season. …

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Lightning sign Marchessault, Hart

The Lightning signed forward Jonathan Marchessault to a one-year, two-way deal Sunday, and also signed Brian Hart to a three-year, two-way entry level contract.

Marchessault, 24, was an easy decision, after the forward led the AHL Syracuse Crunch in scoring and appeared in two playoff games for the Lightning. While Marchessault is on a two-way deal, keep in mind that he is still waiver-eligible, so he'll be a player to watch during to training camp (can be lost to another team if he doesn't make roster).

Hart, 21, had 18 goals and 50 points over three seasons at Harvard, and will likely help the Crunch next season. Hart was a second round pick in 2012. He'll bring some size (6-2, 203) up front in Syracuse.

 

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Will Dave Andreychuk finally get the call into Hall of Fame?

The Hockey Hall of Fame's selection committee will announce the 2015 inductees Monday at 4 p.m.

And it certainly seems like it could be time for former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk to get his much-awaited call.

The committee can add up to four male members. There are a few no-doubt locks like Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Pronger, as well as likely Sergei Fedorov. But you could make a strong case for Andreychuk as a possible fourth Andreychuk is the only 600-goal scorer (640) not already in the Hall of Fame, has the most power play goals in NHL history (274). Andreychuk also captained the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup championship team, remaking his game at the latter stages of his career.

There are many others worthy of consideration, including Mark Recchi (1,533 points), Jeremy Roenick (513 goals and 1,216 points), Eric Lindros and Phil Housley (1,232 points). Andreychuk, 51, currerntly the Lightning's VP for corporate and community affairs, will be a Hall of Famer at some point.

Maybe it'll be Monday.

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Lightning NHL Draft Live Blog: Stephens selected in 2nd round

The Lightning kicked off its draft Saturday morning, selecting center Mitchell Stephens from Saginaw (OHL).

Stephens, a 6-foot- 187-pound right shot, is known for his two-way style and compete level, as well as a strong hockey sense. He believes he'll fit right in with the "high energy" players in the Tampa Bay system.

"It's amazing feeling, I'm a little tight for words," Stephens said.

Stephens had 22 goals and 26 assists (minus-17) in 62 games for the Spirit this season. He felt his game took a big step in the Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.

"I'm a two-way player, a bring a lot of  high energy compete to the game," Stephens said. "A very good skater. I think that with the system that Tampa Bay plays, a high paced game, I'm going to fit in well."

**Then, with Tampa Bay's other second round pick, at No. 44, it selected defenseman Matthew Spencer from Peterborough. A strong, transitional, two-way defenseman who has played in all situations. Spencer said he took a big step in his skating this season, as well as being able to stop opposing team's top lines. A teammate of Stephens with the Under-18 team, calls him the ultimate competitor, strong leader. …

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Yzerman says moving way up in draft 'virtually impossible'

The NHL Draft floor is ripe for wheeling and dealing, and it appears the Coyotes are making their No. 3 overall pick available to all takers.

How about the Lightning?

"If you've got an idea, let me know," general manager Steve Yzerman said, smiling. "It'd be difficult for us to get one of those picks."

It's not like Yzerman hasn't tried before, he reportedly pushed hard for the No. 1 overall pick last year, which the Panthers wisely kept and chose defenseman Aaron Ekblad, the NHL Rookie of the Year. But with the Lightning boasting the No. 28 overall pick, it would need to significantly sweeten the pot to get into the top-3.

“It’s really hard to move way up, it’s virtually impossible,” Yzerman said.

Yzerman does have some flexibility this weekend, with nine overall picks, including two fourths and two sixths. But it appears Tampa Bay is inclined to keep them.

"We like having draft picks," Yzerman said. "Our guys spend a lot of time throughout the year scouting. It's nice to be able to put that time to good use. Those (trade) calls are made on the floor, when you're trading up or trading down. Our plan right now is to hang on to our picks and use them." …

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Lightning set schedule for prospect tournament

The Lightning will host a four-team rookie tournament at Germain Arena in Estero Sept. 12-15, which will be open to the public.

The six-game tournament - pitting the top prospects - will include Tampa Bay, Nashville, Florida and Washington. This will be the first time the Lightning has hosted a rookie showcase.

The Tampa Bay Lightning will host a four-team rookie tournament at Germain Arena in Estero, Florida from Saturday, September 12 through Tuesday, September 15, the team announced today.

Below is the game schedule:
Saturday, Sep. 12

3:00 p.m. - Florida @ Washington

7:00 p.m. - Nashville @ Tampa Bay

Sunday, Sep. 13

3:00 p.m. - Nashville @ Florida

7:00 p.m. - Tampa Bay @ Washington

Monday, Sep. 14

(No games)

Tuesday, Sep. 15

10:00 a.m. - Washington @ Nashville

2:00 p.m. - Florida @ Tampa Bay

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Lightning's 2015-16 schedule released

The Lightning's path back to the Stanley Cup final will be a tough one.

Tampa Bay will play 11 of its first 16 games on the road, as well as the final four, per the schedule released today by the NHL.

After opening at home against the Flyers Oct. 8 at Amalie Arena, the Lightning heads on a three-game swing to Buffalo, Boston and Detroit. Tampa Bay has two more at home before a difficult, four-game swing through four playoff teams, Nashville, Winnipeg, then a Stanley Cup final rematch in Chicago (Oct. 24) and St. Louis.

The Lightning's west-coast trip will be in early December, trip to Anaheim, San Jose and Los Angeles (Dec. 2-6). Tampa Bay will have a six-game homestand through the Christmas holiday (Dec. 20-Jan. 2). The Western Canada trip, which happened in October last season, will be in early January, a trek through Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Colorado (Jan. 5-12).

Tampa Bay will have another six-game homestand Mar. 22-April 2, before finishing the season with four on the road, against the Islanders, Rangers, Devils and the season finale, April 9, in Montreal.

Here's the full schedule.

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Lightning 2015-16 schedule released

The Lightning's path back to the Stanley Cup final will be a tough one.

Tampa Bay will play 11 of its first 16 games on the road, as well as the final four, per the schedule released today by the NHL.

After opening at home against the Flyers Oct. 8 at Amalie Arena, the Lightning heads on a three-game swing to Buffalo, Boston and Detroit. Tampa Bay has two more at home before a difficult, four-game swing through four playoff teams, Nashville, Winnipeg, then a Stanley Cup final rematch in Chicago (Oct 24) and St. Louis.

The Lightning's west-coast trip will be in early December, trip to Anaheim, San Jose and Los Angeles (Dec. 2-6). Tampa Bay will have a six-game homestand through the Christmas holiday (Dec. 20-Jan. 2). The Western Canada trip, which happened in October last season, will be in early January, a trek through Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Colorado (Jan. 5-12).

Tampa Bay will have another six-game homestand Mar. 22-April 2, before finishing the season with four on the road, against the Islanders, Rangers, Devils and the season finale, April 9, in Montreal.

Here's the full schedule

http://www.nhl.com/ice/schedulebyseason.htm?team=tbl

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Lightning 2015-16 schedule released

The Lightning's path back to the Stanley Cup final won't be an easy one.

Tampa Bay will play 11 of its first 16 games on the road next season, and finish with four - in seven days - away from Amalie Arena, according to the schedule released by the NHL today.

The Lightning opens the season Oct. 8 at Amalie Arena against the Flyers, then begins a three-game trip to Buffalo, Boston and Detroit. After a couple home games, Tampa Bay then faces a difficult four-game trip through Nashville, Winnipeg before a Stanley Cup final rematch with the Blackhawks in Chicago Oct. 24.

Tampa Bay will do a west-coast trip Dec. 2-Dec. 6 to Anaheim, San Jose and Los Angeles, but be at Amalie Arena for a six-game homestand around Christmas (Dec. 2-Jan. 2). The Western Canada trip, which happened in October last season, is in January this time, Jan 5-12 through Calgary, Edmonton (Connor McDavid), Vancouver and Colorado.

The Lightning has another six game homestand Mar 22-April 2, before ending the season with four on the road (due to the Frozen Four), with games against the Islanders, Rangers, Devils before a season finale in Montreal.

 

 

 

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Steve Yzerman wins NHL GM of the Year

Steve Yzerman is one of three finalists for the NHL GM of the Year, an award to be announced tonight in Las Vegas

DIRK SHADD | Times

Steve Yzerman is one of three finalists for the NHL GM of the Year, an award to be announced tonight in Las Vegas

The Lightning's Steve Yzerman was named the NHL's GM of the Year Wednesday night at the annual awards show in Las Vegas.

Anaheim's Bob Murray and the Rangers' Glen Sather are the other finalists.

Yzerman said he accepted the award on behalf of the organization, crediting his staff for all their work. The Lightning reached the Stanley Cup final but lost to the Blackhawks 4-2. 

"There's a lot of hard decisions, a lot of sleepless nights," Yzerman said in a phone interview. "But ultimately we haven't won the Stanley Cup, so there's still work to do." 

Voting was conducted by the 30 club general managers and a panel of NHL executives, print and broadcast media at the end of the second round of the playoffs. Buoyed by some key summer moves by Yzerman, acquiring defenseman Anton Stralman and Jason Garrison, along with center Brian Boyle, the Lightning reached the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Blackhawks. Yzerman also made a move at the trade deadline in trading for defenseman Braydon Coburn.

 

 

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Steven Stamkos 'not losing any sleep' over contract

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is still catching his breath in this abbreviated offseason.

Stamkos, 25, went on a quick vacation after the Stanley Cup final wrapped up last week. On Tuesday, Stamkos got a blister taking batting practice before the Rays-Blue Jays game at Tropicana Field.

But, later this week, Stamkos will head home to Toronto, soon confronting the biggest issue of the Lightning's offseason: getting the captain signed to a contract extension. Stamkos is expected to meet with his agents as early as next week, with his reps saying they won't negotiate with the Lightning until they sit down with Stamkos.

Stamkos, who is entering the final year of his contract, is confident a deal will get done.

"A lot of people forget I still have another year left on my deal, it's not like I'm leaving," Stamkos said. "I'm not going anywhere. That stuff is going to take care of itself. It's a bigger story now that we went so deep and that everyone is expecting news right away. We literally just finished the toughest hockey we've played in our careers. Wer'e going to relax a little bit. I'm going to go home this week, talk to who I need to talk to and go from there. …

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Photo gallery: Lightning goes deep at Rays batting practice

Lightning center Steven Stamkos takes some swings during batting practice.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning center Steven Stamkos takes some swings during batting practice.

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop grew up playing baseball, so he was no stranger to taking a few swings.

And Bishop certainly looked the part Tuesday afternoon, hitting a home run over the leftfield wall during Rays batting practice. Encouraged to round the bases by Lightning teammates Steven Stamkos, Alex Killorn, Brian Boyle and Alex Killorn, Bishop did so with a big grin.

"It's fun," Bishop said. "It feels good. You definitely feel it when you hit it in the sweet spot and it goes."

The Lightning players, coming off their remarkable run to the Stanley Cup final, were special guests of the Rays before Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays. The Rays had supported the Lightning during the playoffs, hanging Lightning jerseys and posting good luck tweets, and Tampa Bay players wanted to return the favor. The players were scheduled to watch the game from a suite.

Stamkos, who got a pretty bad blister after a few rounds of batting practice, hit a shot off the leftfield foul pole, joking he was waiting for an instant replay review. …

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