Lightning still wants high-flying Meszaros
Let's assume the Lightning and Penguins cannot make a deal for the third-round draft pick Tampa Bay needs to be part of the compensation to sign Senators unsigned defenseman Adrej Meszaros to an offer sheet. And considering Pittsburgh's front office is on vacation through next week and the rumbling Tampa Bay is not talking to the Penguins, that possibility is less and less likely. Let's also assume Meszaros does not sign an offer sheet with another team. If he doesn't, Tampa Bay will still try to get his rights through trade.
The Lightning isn't commenting, but such a move makes sense. Meszaros, shown here on the left during the 2007 playoffs, is young, 23 in October, and has the puck-moving and goal-scoring skills the team covets. It will cost a bunch -- Ottawa newspapers have said Meszaros is looking for about $5-million a season -- but at least with a trade, the Lightning can shed some payroll in return. And considering the team, as of now, is about $1-million off the $56.7-million salary cap, that would be a good thing.
What would the Senators want? Given they would be losing a huge part of their blue-line, it makes sense they would want an NHL-ready defenseman. That is a tough call. Do you give up Matt Carle? That would help with the salary cap (he will make $2.95-million this season). Do you give up Paul Ranger? He might one day be a star. Or how about Filip Kuba? Again, that would help the cap situation ($3-million), but that would take a huge chunk of experience away from a defensive corps that already is relatively young and inexperienced. Ottawa might also want a prospect as their organizational depth on defense is questionable. And perhaps Tampa Bay says the Senators also have to take one of the Lightning's extra forwards.
What the Lightning would get back would be an upgrade from whomever they trade. Consider Meszaros has 16 goals and 71 points the past two seasons. He had six power-play goals last season. Granted he was playing with a star-studdded lineup, but Tampa Bay's forwards aren't too shabby right now either.
As mentioned in the previous post, though, Canada's TSN has reported Meszaros already has signed an offer sheet with another team. If that is true, all this might not matter.