Owner says they're done; anyone believe it?
Owner Len Barrie punctuated a busy Monday night by saying that for all practical matters, the flurry of moves the team has made to reshape the franchise are over (I am not counting, here, signing depth players basically to help AHL Norfolk). Still, seeing the breakneck pace Barrie and Oren Koules have set, best never to say never. Especially when you hear the scuttlebutt the team will be searching the waiver wires for a veteran stay-at-home defenseman, it just seems as if these guys can't help stockpiling players and Tampa Bay has 16 forwards right now with NHL contracts.
There are several ways to cull the herd, so to speak: trades and sending players to the minors. The first option is much more likely given those who could be sent down have one-way contracts (so they will cost the same whether they play in the NHL or minors). On the other hand, if a player can be shipped out on re-call waivers (in which half salary is paid by the original and the new teams), that might not be a bad option, given specific players.
So, who are the most likely to go? Consider these lines, which, as always, are subject to change:
Vinny Prospal-Vinny Lecavalier-Marty St. Louis
Ryan Malone-Steve Stamkos-Radim Vrbata
Gary Roberts-Jeff Halpern-Mark Recchi
Nick Tarnasky-Ryan Craig-Evgeny Artyukhin
That leaves Jason Ward, Adam Hall, Jussi Jokinen and Michel Ouellet.
Trades, trades, trades are coming, especially, it would seem, with Jokinen and Ouellet, both of whom could fetch draft choices, prospects and even more depth players for the minors. All of those things this organization has lacked recently. What a great opportunity to fill in the holes.
On defense, the top seven seems to be Matt Carle, Paul Ranger, Filip Kuba, Mike Lundin, Alex Picard, Shane O'Brien and Andrew Hutchinson with Janne Niskala and Matt Smaby trying to crack that group.
Lundin is an interesting case. He was 22 when he signed his contract in July 2007. (NOTE: I originally had 2006 here, which was a typo. It does not change that Lundin was 22 when he signed, as his birthday is Sept, 24, 1984).
Carry on ...
Players who sign at that age, according to the CBA, can avoid waivers if they play no more than 70 NHL games. But Lundin played 81 games last season, hence he needs to clear waivers if he is sent to the minors. Seems Lundin is just the kind of player another team would snap up. So expect to see him with Tampa Bay unless he just tanks, though great training camps by Niskala or Smaby also could change the dynamic. Niskala, of course, has a European transfer option, meaning if he doesn't make the Lightning, he can be sent back to Europe with that team assuming a good part of his contract.
In other words, there are enough moving parts and enough of a track record when it comes to the new ownership's love of transactions to keep your seat belts fastened.