Niskala suspended (not as bad as it sounds)
It seems like a formality while defenseman Janne Niskala negotiates a deal with a European club, though it still is not clear where he might be going. In the interim, the Lightning has assigned Niskala to AHL Norfolk, though he will not report there, Tampa Bay general manager Brian Lawton said.
The suspension is a formality so the Lightning no longer has to pay Niskala's $600,000 salary while he looks for a European destination. Niskala's agent, Craig Oster, said he is negotiating with "a number of teams" and should have a deal set in a few days.
"We don't have to suspend him, we could pay him and send him back there," Lawton said,. "But that wasn't our first option."
Niskala, unhappy with diminished playing time, and with his wife pregnant, asked to be moved, Lawton said. His contract allows a move to a European team, which will end the Lightning's financial obligation.
With Niskala gone, the Lightning reduced its roster to 22, one under the limit, which allowed it to remove right wing Radim Vrbata from injured reserve. Vrbata, who said he hasn't felt any groin pain in several days, is in tonight's lineup against the Rangers. Coach Barry Melrose said Ryan Craig will be scratched, in part, to give his surgically repaired right knee a rest after two straight games.
Mike Smith also gets the start in goal.